We want to be a church focused on sending instead of building. We want to “go and be,” rather than asking the world to “come and see.” Ideally, the messages of those two are not contradictory. As we go into the world, we can then invite others to come and be with us. But the first impulse is the movement outward. Only as we go out can we effectively invite and include others in God’s grace.
Ash Wednesday - “Torn”
Before a seed can be planted in the earth, the earth has to be torn. Otherwise, the seed just remains on the surface of the ground and nothing happens. So as we begin Lent, and pray for God’s seed to grow in and through us, we begin with confession and repentance. OT practice was tearing clothes as a sign of repentance, but the prophets say rend your hearts and not your clothes. As our hearts are torn open, then God’s seed is planted…..
March 10 - “Scattered”
The farmer is an indiscriminate sower—he throws seed on all kinds of ground. Part of the point is that you never know where and when you will find fertile ground. So we are called to sow God’s word—to carry God’s love into the world and to pass it on without judgment for how people look or how we think they’ll receive it, for we never know when the seed will find a fertile heart, torn open and ready to receive it.
March 17 - “Blown”
Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being “born of the Spirit,” and then compares the Spirit to wind: “The wind blows where it will, you hear its sound but you cannot tell where it is going.” This is certainly true of the early church—they were blown by the Spirit, carried into relationships and situations that the disciples did not expect. This is indeed what it means to be “filled” with the Spirit—not to be filled like a jug full of water, but to be filled like a sail, powered and directed by the wind.
March 24 - “Planted”
There’s an old adage that goes: Bloom where you are planted. The fact is, every seed eventually finds a landing place. And so, consider the idea that you are planted exactly where God wants you to be. What does it mean to embrace the place where you are? Perhaps you’re in a difficult place in life, things are not going the way you want. But maybe there are people or resources around you, perhaps God has provided all you need, perhaps you’re planted here for a reason. Or perhaps you’re flourishing where you are. Look around, and see if others are flourishing too. Perhaps there is a ministry opportunity, perhaps there is someone God has put in your path or in your proximity, and he’s asking you to share his love with them. Pay attention to where you are planted.
March 31 - “Nourished”
Sometimes our role is to nourish a seed that someone else has planted. Random acts of love are great, but even better when it leads to conversation, and when conversations get repeated and develop into relationships.
April 7 - “Fruited”
Jesus once cursed a fig tree. This is one of the stranger acts Jesus does, but it is a prophetic act. It is a statement about the kind of religion and worship Jesus sees in Jerusalem. The people of Israel are supposed to bear fruit, but they’re not doing so. We think of fruit as something sweet and good to eat. But fruit is nature’s “seed-delivery” system. We bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. (a la Gal 5:22-23) not just because they make our life better; we bear these fruit in order to plant seeds in the world and in others’ lives. The more we bear fruit, the more seed is planted in the earth. So the cycle repeats itself, and we are called to ask ourselves if we are bearing the kind of fruit that the master is looking for. Because that is our mission—to bear fruit that plants the seed of the Kingdom.
Palm Sunday (April 14) - “Torn (reprise) and Buried”
We end where we began. Torn again. The earth is torn, and the seed is planted. Jesus spoke of this by analogy in John 12:20-32. He says: “Unless a seed dies and is planted in the earth, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it becomes many seeds.” He goes on to remark that those who love their life will lose it, but those who give their life away will keep it for eternal glory. He is speaking about selflessness in general perhaps, that the path to true life is making our life an offering (to God and to others). But he is speaking about himself—he is the seed who will be torn. He is the seed who will be buried, so that many more seeds can come. So how do we, like Christ, die to self that we might live to God?