The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.
I know next to nothing about gardening. Anyone who would dare put me in charge of a garden is courting disaster. I never cease to give thanks to God for the many gifts with which God has blessed me, but a green thumb was not one of them.
I regularly state this disclaimer around this time of the Year A Lectionary because for the next several weeks, we’ll be hearing parables from the Gospel of Matthew that have to do with growing, gardening, planting, and harvesting.
These passages, and its images of plants and weeds, seeds and soil, teach us a lot about being disciples. The challenge, however, is that we aren’t, for the most part, farmers or vineyard workers or fishermen or shepherds. We don’t have the perspective that the crowds did in Jesus’ day. And so we have to be extra careful that we understand these charming parables about seeds and plants and growing. Matthew seems to put quite a bit of emphasis on understanding.
One resource that might be helpful toward that end is a book by Barbara Brown Taylor. Titled, The Seeds of Heaven, Taylor has put together a collection of sermons from the Gospel of Matthew which include the parable of the Sower – the lesson for this upcoming Sixth Sunday after Pentecost. The sermons are quick, thoughtful reads which I would highly suggest for anyone who really wants to delve into this summer’s gospel interpretations, or who simply wants to keep up with what your pastor is preaching on while you’re on vacation.
I make this recommendation because I plan to veer away from reflections on the upcoming Gospel readings and focus more of my attention on the other lessons in the lectionary, or on occasion not focus on the lectionary at all, just for the sake of variety. So if you do look to this weekly article for thoughts, ideas, or inspiration – as some have indicated that you do – I want to forewarn you so as not to dash your expectations.
This Thursday our rostered ministers will gather at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Cuyahoga Falls for a Boundaries Workshop. As people who work with people, maintaining respectful boundaries is important toward strengthening relationships. The Northeastern Ohio Synod requires that pastors and deacons attend a boundaries workshop every three years.
Saturday our Synod Council meets at the Lutheran Center.
For those of you who weren’t present at our Synod Assembly, I invite you to read my report to the Assembly by clicking HERE. In keeping with the theme, “God’s Word, Our Heritage, Our Hope,” it was my intent to demonstrate how our Lutheran heritage is reflected in activities around the synod. Feel free to download the report and share with your congregation.
May the seeds of God’s love be planted in you, that you may sow that love in others this week and always.
+Bishop Abraham Allende