Every year we talk about getting an early start to our garden by planting seeds indoors in the early Spring. Every year we go and buy tomato plants because we didn’t get any seeds started. Seeds take a different type of tending and time line. This year we did amend the soil in our little tomato garden plot with some of our own compost.
Every year we hear Jesus speak in parables. Every week we feast on God’s word and get opportunities to grow. For the next several weeks we hear Jesus speak in the parables of seeds, soil and sowers, wheat and weeds, yeast and mustard seeds.
To fertilize the soil of our minds as we listen to and learn from parables I share with you what Dr. Karoline Lewis writes in her exploration of parables:
Jesus tells parables not for explanation but for exploration. Not for answers but so as to engage the imagination. Not for certainties about faith but for discoveries about how faith works. In this regard, Jesus asks us to talk in parables, too. Because something happens in telling parables that cannot occur in just listening to them. Figuring out a parable to tell is a different experience than securing its purpose.
Dr. Lewis goes on to share:
The problem is, we tend to tame parables with our endless attempts at allegory. Of course, Jesus invites such allegorical invitations when on several occasions he sets out to identify each element or character in the parables for his disciples. And we like it when Jesus does that -- a lot. The bottom line is, then and now, Jesus’ disciples tend to be great fans of explanation. We lack a certain amount of patience when it comes to letting parables work.
I encourage you to read the entire article from Professor Karoline Lewis. She wrote it in 201. Those seeds were sown and now we get to hear them. These next weeks as we hear parables it is an invitation into pondering and patience.
Patience. That’s what seeds ask of us. The soil in our tomato garden this year is better. Each year we learn a little more about gardening in this particular location such as the hail protection above the tomatoes that Dan built last year and the fence around the tomato plants to keep out the dogs. This year we are growing basil alongside the tomatoes. I had read that tomatoes and basil grow well together.
It’s a work in progress to keep learning how to plant and tend our garden. So it is with following Jesus. We get to ask questions, try out new things, enter into God’s sacred story of scripture. In this time of our lives, as Jesus’ followers, we are getting to learn how to be Church in new ways. It is going to take experimenting, practicing and patience.
For the rest of July we are experimenting with a worship pattern we hope is more sustainable for our energy output, an opportunity for those in need of in person connection and allows us to keep sowing God’s word. We will worship on Saturdays at 5pm via Zoom only and on Sundays at 9am both on the Patio and via Zoom. The Saturday 5pm worship will be recorded and available on our YouTube channel (subscribe here) for you to watch at a time that works for you.
There are choices for how the seed of God’s word can be planted in you. You can choose to attend worship outdoors on the patio below the PLC building keeping safe physical distance, protecting one another by wearing masks, bringing our own chairs, sun protection and items for communion. You can be intentional in reading scripture using Christ in our Home, a daily bible reading program, joining in one of our weekly bible studies.
Being Church together takes on a variety of forms. The Spirit is forever working among us. Over the next three weeks we will also be hearing Romans 8 in our worship services. This chapter is entitled in the NRSV as “Life in the Spirit” and in the Message as “The Solution is Life on God’s terms”. I invite and encourage you to read through Romans 8 in it’s entirety as “soil preparation” to hear God’s word. Here is the link to the Message translation.
For the next three weeks in our Children’s message I will invite us to reflect upon and memorize Ephesians 4:32 as I share this song with some hand motions so everyone can join in the singing even in a safe way:
Be ye kind, one unto another, tender hearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ has forgiven you.
And…This month I want to invite you into INTENTIONAL ACTS OF KINDNESS. Will you join in experimenting planting seeds of kindness? Faith calls us into action. We get to learn by experimenting.
Starting with letting in the love, compassion and kindness of Jesus, will you be intentional in treating yourself kindly? Will you allow for how the Spirit is interceding for you and showering you with kindness? Will you then extend intentional acts of kindness to your neighbor and the stranger?
The seeds of kindness that we allow to be sown within then sprout as seeds of kindness to share with others. As part of this we will look at verse thirty-one. Ephesians 4:31-32 will serve as the theme verses for this month of growing:
31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Putting away bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander and malice- can be seen as the “weeding”. We ask for God to remove from us that which gets in the way. We ask God to plant in us kindness, tenderheartedness (the Greek word translated as tenderhearted in Ephesians 4:32 means a gut level compassion, a positive empathy, and forgiveness).
Imagine us together, being Church in the world, practicing kindness with intentionality, having compassion and positive empathy and forgiveness for ourselves and one another. Something happens when these seeds are planted. Something happens when we have hearts that are open. The song, “Lord let my heart be good soil” has been running through my head all week. We will sing it this weekend.
Worshipping together allows Scripture to come alive in new ways; as we read it and hear it together, we sing scripture, we listen together, we speak together. And we are learning that “together” can be in a variety of ways. Something happens when we are together that helps us open to the “seed” of God’s word. Seeds, soil, scripture and the summer of the Spirit are an invitation to grow.
This coming Wednesday we are offering another intentional opportunity to learn and grow. Zoom in from 6:30-7pm July 15 for an introduction to Dr. Adrian Neibauer - our facilitator who will be walking alongside us as we enter into courageous conversations about race and privilege- and it will be an introduction to the summer book study of White Fragility:Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Dr. Robin DiAngelo. If you would like to borrow a copy of this book to read we have several to loan out- please contact myself or Carlyn Peterson.
God only knows the yield as we plant seeds of learning together and talking about hard things. God only knows what the soil of each of hearts, minds and spirits needs. This Summer of the Spirit let your heart be good soil, open to the seed of God’s word.