How shall our garden grow?
By Lou Florio
Originally posted June 29, 2013, at 2pennyblog. Republished with permission of the author.
“Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8).
Summer is a season of growth. Planting is done, but there is much watering, weeding and tending left to do before the harvest. Sure, we can plant seed in the best soil available, then walk away and hope things grow by the grace of God. Yet, our plot probably won’t bear as much fruit, vegetables or flowers without our active, attentive, intentional involvement. Life might never sprout at all.
We, too, grow by the grace of God. The seed of faith has been planted in our hearts, and our history, surroundings and dispositions affect us much like soil. Worse, life can be hot and dry or too stormy, threatening to wither us, outside of our control. So like the local fields, we need tending. Our summer travels can be part of that, refreshing and renewing us, yet we can’t ever think rest alone is enough to make us yield thirty, sixty or a hundredfold. God has to be in the mix, for only God makes things grow and become greater (1 Corinthians 3:7).
To help with this, Messiah is offering a number of opportunities to encourage individual growth, as well as the growth of our congregation and greater community. We’ll have a series of unified services with special offerings from visitors wishing to minister to us — including their use of liturgical music and performing arts. We’ll celebrate our full communion and shared ministry with All Souls Episcopal in worship together and pulpit exchanges. We will minister to others through our Lutheran Family Services Picnic for adopted and foster care families, the summer program at our school, our popular vacation Bible school, and more. These efforts will certainly bless our neighbors this summer, but volunteers time and again report the multiplied blessings they have encountered through building relationship with others and in serving together. Yet, that’s not all. Opportunities continue for Bible study, contemplative prayer, Christian formation, and active service including with our many partnering nonprofits. We’ll also have youth and adults attending Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp, mission trips, and other retreats for all ages. God will be active here. Why not you?
Growth requires balance — daily rest and work centered on and fed by the love of God. Yes, near or far, at rest or active in service, we remain the church. We have nothing to fear from darkness, storm or death, for eternal life will be ours through faith. Still, our shared hope remains as in Paul’s long ago prayer; that all of us together may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as we bear fruit in every good work and as we grow in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10).
No matter our circumstance, we find ourselves always in a mission field. Jesus has come so that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10) while in that field and beyond. On vacation or not, no matter the season, let us heed Christ’s invitation, cooperate with the grace offered us and intentionally strive to nurture his life in our hearts and the hearts of others.
Lou Florio is the pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Mechanicsville, Va. Find a link to his blog 2pennyblog at Lutheran Blogs.
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