Sowing Seeds

Most of us know the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, the parable in which Jesus describes a farmer tossing out seed while planting his fields, the seed falling on a variety of soils and how those seeds grew.

“As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – Matthew 13:4-8By Morgan McClean, courtesy of Morguefile.com

Often we think of this parable as a parable of the soils (some translations do title it this way), a lesson about the conditions of our hearts and our response to the Word. But what if we think of this from the perspective of the farmer? He sows freely, scattering the seed across all the soil, not just the good soil, and allows it to grow freely.

This spring, I took my first swat at a vegetable garden. While I have a little bit of experience with flower gardening, I have effectively no experience with vegetable gardening. But I wanted to try growing some of my own food, having fresh herbs (a basil or mint plant cost about the same amount as a bunch of fresh herbs, anyway) and a few vegetables outside my back door. I tried starting some seeds indoors in the early spring, but none of them really germinated, so I gave up on them and relied on the flower bulbs and vegetable plants I bought from the local nursery. After filling the raised beds with bags of garden soil, I tossed in the little bits soil that I had used in the failed attempt to germinate the seeds indoors.

Within a week of planting a bunch of hosta and astilbe bulbs in the larger of my raised beds, a few large, flat leaves poked up from the soil and I got excited! They didn’t look like hosta leaves, so I assumed they were the astilbe I had planted (but never seen in person before). As time went on, though, it became clear that these were NOT astilbe leaves and the yellow, conical flowers confirmed that these were summer squash plants, popped up from the seeds left in the soil I had tossed in last minute, assuming the seeds dried out and dead. Next thing I knew, the seeds I hadn’t known I sowed were growing rapidly and flourishing.

Sometimes, we sow the seeds of faith intentionally, cultivating the soil of our relationships so that the truth will spring up and produce a good crop as our friends come to Christ and build relationships with him. Once in a very great while, we get to see the harvest, too. But sometimes we don’t. Continue reading

Apron Theology

129If you have any expectation of staying clean while cooking (particularly baking, I’ve found), you’re wearing an apron. I personally have a terrible habit of remembering halfway through the recipe that I should probably put mine on. Cooking without something to protect your clothes gets messy– sometimes irreversibly so. I nearly lost one of my favorite cardigans (that I wear very frequently) to pulled pork juices in the crockpot last weekend.

We are trained from a young age to protect ourselves from things that might make us dirty. We put on aprons when cooking, gloves when cleaning the toilet, smocks when painting, old shoes when mowing the lawn. Particularly when something is a chore, we find ways to protect ourselves from being made messy. We don’t want to be unclean.

The Jews of Jesus’ time were much the same way. We need only glance through the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy to get a feel for how easily one would be made unclean and the consequences of such a state. It’s hard for me to imagine not being permitted to attend worship once a month because of my monthly cycle (Leviticus 15:19-24). But yet, as Holy Week arrives, I am struck by the extreme gift that Joseph of Arimathea gave by making himself unclean in order to lay Christ’s body to rest, knowing that simply by touching the body of his dead savior, he would be unclean on the Sabbath day.

Joseph’s act is reminiscent of Jesus’ behavior while he was still in active ministry. A woman, bleeding for twelve years (!), is absolutely desperate for healing, so she risks all she has to risk. She reaches out to touch the edge of Jesus’ robe. (Mark 5:25-24) Because she has been bleeding, she has been unclean for just as long. For twelve years, she has not been touched by another person. Just imagine how isolating this would be, to be set apart from everyone for twelve years because you are sick, to know that anyone to touch you would be ceremonially unclean, separated from God and the Temple. You would be isolated from everything and everyone, including God.

So she risks it. She risks reaching out to touch the edge of the robe of the man she believes is her last hope. She risks making him unclean in hopes that maybe she could be made clean. She risks dirtying the most pure, holy, undefiled person to have ever walked on this earth.

And he blesses her for it. Continue reading

Rejoice, A New Creation!

This week was a very blessed week for my family as my husband and I became members of the church we have been attending since this summer, which has welcomed us with open arms. But even more important than that, my husband made his faith formal and public by taking the sacrament of baptism! For some, the significance of that moment may be less obvious than to others, but it is terribly significant to Christ. It is an act of acceptance and obedience to Christ’s calling and an act of submission to His plan for your life, “an outward sign of inward grace,” symbolic of the washing away of sins and the death of the old man and birth of the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Lobster BisqueBecause of the significance of the occasion, I treated him to one of his favorite meals (and, coincidentally, the most expensive meal I’ve ever made): Lobster Bisque. He’s lucky I love him 😛

A special meal is one of those ways that I like to celebrate significant moments in life because, particularly when you make it yourself, it actively responds to the importance of the occasion. So, here are the reasons I chose to cook him this meal and why to cook something special at all.

  1. It’s his favorite. It’s not my favorite (although it certainly is delicious), but his favorite, and something he doesn’t ever get at home.
  2. It’s expensive. If not today, on what is one of the most important days of his life, then when? He certainly isn’t going to get it ‘just because’ on a Wednesday night! But more significantly, this event deserves an expensive meal. It is a sacrifice to serve such a luxurious meal and, in the same way as the Israelites of the Old Testament would offer burnt sacrifices for spiritual commitment and renewal, I can give this meal to God as much as to my husband, as a thanks offering to His faithfulness and goodness.
  3. It’s not the easiest. I can acknowledge and celebrate the significance of the occasion by putting in a little more effort than I typically would when putting together dinner.

Continue reading

Loving In Deed

Valentine's DayIt’s that time of year again, the time of year men bemoan and women anxiously fret over whether or not their men will come through or, if single, if they will spend the day alone. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day! As I’ve grown older, the meaning of the day has changed a lot for me, likely primarily because I have outgrown a lot of that high school insecurity. However, as much as I think we shouldn’t overvalue Valentine’s Day, I do think it is important to remember the importance of what the day is meant to celebrate and encourage: love.

Little children, let’s not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

A major theme in Scripture is our responsibility to “love one another as [Christ has] loved you” (John 5:12). Call me crazy, but that sounds… well…hard. Like, really hard. I could be wrong, but I don’t think, Jesus was talking about giving each other chocolates one day a year. I also don’t think he was talking about giving said chocolates to just our significant others. I think, just maybe, He was talking about something bigger, much bigger.

So how can we love one another, like we are commanded? Well, fortunately, one of the ways you can do it is with food! (Yes, that’s always a wonderful answer!)

Continue reading