Sowing Seeds

We are not so green fingered in our house, so yesterday was a day to get some of the garden sorted. We cut the grass and swept up lots of debris from the paths. We even potted a few plants in the hope that they will yield some colour and brightness around the place.

When the children were younger we used to take them to a gardening club in a garden centre on Saturday mornings. I don’t know which was the bigger attraction, getting covered from head to toe in soil and peat moss, or the juice and biscuits that came at the end of the session. It was a lovely thing to go to and we have great memories of those times.

Once a month, on a Saturday afternoon, our daughter, Lucy, enjoys a club that takes place in a church, for children with disabilities and their siblings. The leaders and helpers do an amazing job and there are often crafts that involve baking and potting things or sowing seeds and it’s always exciting to see what will become of those tiny seeds if we look after them a bit and water them and let nature do its thing.

Last week was a special week of sowing of another kind in the life of our church. Different speakers came in over the course of the week to speak to our organisations and at church services to speak about faith making a difference in their lives. When we organise a week like that, it’s hard to know where it will go? How do you measure success?

Would we count it a successful week if the numbers were huge at every gathering we organised? Would it be a success if people came who don’t usually come to church events and had a good experience? Would people think it successful if the speakers delivered a very inspiring and telling message that everyone connected with? 

I would say, if we looked at those criteria, it was a bit of a mixed bag. If attendance were the yardstick, I’d say the turnout was quite small at many of the gatherings. Every household in the parish was invited and events happened at different times of the day to facilitate those who might be working or those who might find it difficult to come out at night. Some people who normally don’t come to church or church events or who wouldn’t normally invite much by way of spiritual content into their lives were there and were exposed to people sharing why that side of their lives was important to them. Having been at most of the events, I would say that all the speakers were very different and had different approaches, but were very engaging.

Nobody explicitly came up to me after a service or event and said, “ I need to get right with God after hearing that and I’d love to give my life to Jesus.”Nobody used that kind of language with me, but lots of people came to me and said I found that really interesting what that person said or shared. Lots of people said things like, “I wish my friend had been here to hear what that lady or that man said.” Some people went away saying nothing, but their eyes were bright and they were brimming with wonder. A few people said of the person that they heard that he or she was amazing and I’d love to hear them again.

So, only God knows if it was a success. I really love the Jesus approach to sowing spiritual seed which you can read about in Matthew 13, Mark 4 or Luke 8. In one of Jesus’s most famous teachings he spoke about throwing it out there not knowing where it might land, how it might be received depending on the sort of soil it fell on.

You could say the same about every conversation you ever engage in about your spiritual life. You could think, if you are a preacher, about every talk or sermon or school assembly you have ever done. You might cringe when you think of some of them and how bad they were and nothing seems to have happened. Thankfully, Jesus’s approach didn’t dwell on such things.

He didn’t waste much time in the post sermon analysis. He just kept throwing the stuff out there in the hope that some might respond to it, or that it might end up taking root and growing. So it is with sermons, blogs and podcasts and weeks of mission. Thankfully, the results don’t depend on us, it’s all the work of God’s Holy Spirit. Could we take a leaf out of Jesus’s book with the urgency of keeping at it, even when it doesn’t seem to go well? He just got up, shook the dust off his feet and went to another village. May we keep relentlessly and enthusiastically sowing wherever God has placed us.

Looking forward to speaking again soon.

Much love to everyone,


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