Thursday, September 11, 2014

Seeds, Sprouts, and Seasonal Shifts

We're trying an experiment in my church.  We're spending 2 weeks with each text.  Last week we read Matthew 13:1-9, the parable of the sower, with the seeds that fall on different types of ground. 

Last week's discussion of seeds took me back to a children's sermon that I preached in 2012.  That week's Gospel talked about mustard seeds, and I had found a jar of mustard seeds, which was so cheap that I should have bought several. 

I came up with the idea of sprouting them much too late--or so I thought.  But I wrapped them in some damp paper towels, which I kept damp.  Much to my surprise, in just 4 days, they looked like this:

It took nothing more:  not special food, not sunlight, no enriched soil.  Just cover and dampness.

I've been thinking about seeds, how tiny they are:

I've been thinking about how quickly seeds sprout with just the slightest encouragement.

But I'm also thinking about the potted plants on my porch.  At the beginning of summer, they were full and lush.  These days of heat have taken their toll, no matter how much water I give them.

The parable reminds us that the sprouting process is not the hard part.  No, as anyone who has tried a healthier approach to living knows, the hard part comes in later seasons.

As a church, maybe we should talk more about what to do when we're feeling our faith wilting.  Maybe we should talk about the season of wilting as a normal part of the faith cycle.

The ways to deal with a wilting faith are similar as the ways to enrich the soil to make sure that seedlings thrive.  The ways are as varied as humans.  The trick is to keep doing the practices that have worked in the past, even when we're not sure that they're presently working.

We keep reading our Bibles even when we'd like to be watching old movies.  We keep going to church, even though we might rather sleep.  We pray, even as we wonder if anyone hears us.   The list could go on and on.

Eventually, we will look up and realize that we have some new leaves on our brittle stems.  We will have left the time of rocky ground and thorns, and we will be ready for new shoots to take root.

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