A dear friend of mine will be consecrated as a Lutheran deaconess this weekend. She has had to wait several months for her service to be rescheduled and it will look very different from her original plans. But we know God is faithful and that God continues to call us regardless of what is going on in the world around us and no matter how long it takes us to make things “official.”
One of her texts for the service is the Parable of the Sower from Mark (Mark 4:1-20). As the gardening season has been coming to a close, I have been reflecting on this text. It seems like only a few months ago spring was dawning, and we were preparing the soil and scattering seeds. I was even starting seeds indoors for our gardens and doing little seed projects with my two-year-old son.
We were tilling the garden, planting, and anxiously waiting for the plants to grow. We have had many adventures at this new home with trying various plants in different areas only to be disappointed when we discovered the soil was too rocky, too sandy, too weedy, or too devoid of nutrients from previous owners spraying it to death.
This summer, however, we finally had some success! And the success came from two main areas where we have heavily invested into the soil. Beginning last fall, we mulched and spread manure. Then we worked it in and tilled again in the spring. We added peat moss, coffee grounds (for our acidic garden), and various nutrients. The soil became “good” soil and we have literally seen the fruits of our labor.
Now, it is several months later and little seems to have progressed in terms of the pandemic. The hopefulness and the budding of new life in early spring has progressed through a rainy and hot summer, many smokey days from the surrounding wildfires, and now into a cool fall. Fall is usually one of my favorite seasons with the crispness of the air and beauty of the changing leaves. Yet somehow, this fall feels different. Winter seems to be looming around the corner, eerily reminding us of all the time we have already spent indoors and isolated.
But like I have witnessed in my own gardens this year, soil can change and be changed. God remains with us no matter what kind of soil we are or what cycle of life we may find ourselves in. God continues to scatter the Word – the Good News – over and over. We are never alone. Nor are we ever without God’s continuous gifts of grace, love, and forgiveness.
The fruit may be gone for this season, but that fruit left seeds of abundance for next spring – for the next cycle of life. We are not left emptyhanded and can trust that the Word will not return empty as Isaiah reminds us. We can expect those seeds to grow and the seed of the Word to grow within us. God may work in mysterious or even untraceable ways, but God is at work. And that is something in which we can take comfort!
God of life, thank you for this beautiful creation and the changing seasons. Thank you for walking alongside us through each season and its changing soil. Shower us with your love and mercy, and sow in us the Good News of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.