In an attempt to put this seemingly endless winter behind us, Teresa and I went to this year’s Home and Garden Show. The place was filled with entrepreneurs all eager to convince us that we absolutely, without a doubt, definitely needed their particular product or service; and that today, and today alone, was the best opportunity to take advantage of their offer. As we walked up and down the aisles, it occurred to me that many of the businesses included "eco" or "green" as part of their name. Moreover, quite a few were giving away packages of seeds in an effort to get us to stop and chat. Since I am a sucker for any freebie, we did plenty of chatting and, consequently, came home with enough flower seeds to beautify several areas in our garden.
I am sure this will be stating the obvious, but those seeds won’t do our garden a bit of good unless we plant them, and continue to care for them. If we do our work well, they will grow to maturity, and produce lovely fragrant flowers, or delicious fruit. We may also find ourselves able to harvest new seeds to plant elsewhere and spread the garden further. All this because we will plant and care for a small batch of seeds.
"Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1: 11-12 (NIV)
Jesus taught in parables and often used seeds to illustrate his point. "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." Matthew 13: 3-8 (NIV)
The Gospel is like a seed and we are like the farmer. As Christians, we are commissioned to plant the seed of the Gospel to all the nations. Sure some of the seed will fall on deaf ears and sometimes we may find ourselves rebuked for even attempting to share the good news. But often we will plant a single seed with someone who is seeking, and that seed will germinate and grow. Our continuing task is to feed and nourish that person’s spiritual growth, and while this task never ends, our objective is also to teach that person how to plant and nourish the seed of the Gospel.
A few months ago, we all had the opportunity to respond to a "Congregational Self-analysis" survey. The results of which were used, by the Search committee, to develop the Congregational Profile – the seed that will eventually lead to the calling of our new Pastor.
Looking beyond the calling of a Pastor, the survey responses also provided some significant food for thought. In one area, we were asked to, "Describe the year you remember as being the congregation’s best and what was good about it." The bulk of the responses, as one member of our Search team put it, related to how the Pastor and Church Leadership were feeding us as a congregation. While there is nothing wrong with being fed, perhaps it’s time we stepped out into the mission field and began to plant seeds and feed the community – feeding the masses just as Jesus did.
When the disciples asked how they could possibly feed so many with so little, what was Jesus’ response?
Jesus said, "Bring them here to me." Matthew 14: 18 (NIV) We know what happened then!