Who here has had a garden at some point? What are some of the things that need to take place in order for a garden to grow and flourish? Sun, water, good soil, time… some would say a strong sense of hope and belief in the future as well. I think the church is something like a plant… there are things that we do that can nourish and help us grow and pass on to the next generation.
Who first nourished your faith? Who planted the seeds of faith within you? The seeds of faith were first planted and nourished in me by my parents. It was nourished through Sunday School and junior choir. It was strengthened in worship and in discussion groups as an adult.
Who first nourished your faith? Who planted the seeds of faith within you? For some of you, you can hardly remember a time when you didn’t have some sense of faith and of this place being holy. For some, your faith was nourished and fed in a different place. For some, you have come later to faith.
And for many of us, our faith waxes and wanes… Sometimes very strong… I have sometime described mine like a rope… And sometimes very small… like a strand of embroidery floss… How can we nourish the faith that we have?
The gospel reading is part of the Kingdom or Realm of God parables… this week Mark likens the realm of God to a mustard seed, one which grows into a huge shrub and gives shelter to birds. Mustard was not a desired plant… much like dandelions… It was often considered an invasive plant… so for Jesus to liken the kingdom of God would be the same as us saying the kingdom of God is like a field of dandelions. So many of us spend countless hours trying to get rid of dandelions… and why? They provide the first food for butterflies… the greens of the young plants are tender and tasty… you can brew tea out of the stems… In fact, they are a really useful plant… and despite our best efforts, we can’t eradicate them.
Jesus also talked about the kingdom of God being like a sower… who sows the seed and tends it… but really how do any of us know how a tiny seed grows into something? It’s like a miracle every time… but it is so commonplace, we forget to be overcome with awe.
What seeds of faith are we sowing in each other and in the next generation? Or in the generation after that? Are we tending or neglecting the fields? Are we so fixated on how we were told to tend the fields that we don’t notice what is growing in our midst? What field of dandelions is really the kingdom of God? Seeing a field of dandelions as an asset instead of a liability requires a shift in thinking and philosophy.
What might we consider weeds in God’s garden? Is it new music? Is it a different way of engaging in ministry with children? Is it newcomers who aren’t related to anyone here or known to the church? Are we so focused on trying to maintain what was that we miss out on what is right in front of us? It is easy to focus on what we don’t have or what we used to have. But when I look around… and I know I have only been here for 5 months… but sometimes fresh eyes on a situation can see things that long time eyes can’t.
You are a congregation blessed with an accessible building that is in good repair, no significant debt and parking. You might take those for granted, but believe me, those are not to be taken lightly. You are blessed with strong leadership… with people who are willing to take on projects and exercise leadership on committees and boards.
There are challenges, there is no doubt. How do we connect with a world that is at least one generation from faith? How do we look around and see what is in front of us as an asset not a liability? How do plant and tend seeds of faith? Seeds of faith have been planted in our children and youth… we probably won’t see many of them till next fall. We leave their faith development in their parents and grandparents hands over the summer months. We leave it in God’s hands.
Thanks be to God, amen.
Mark 4: 26-34
June 14, 2015
St. Paul’s Spryfield
(C) Catherine MacDonald 201