This is the last time I will be writing to you as your pastor. Our journey together, over the past four years has been interesting, fruitful, fulfilling, rewarding, meaningful and pleasant.
In general terms, I have always understood:
- The Church to be a spiritual institution. It is of God, commissioned by Jesus, and led by the Holy Spirit. The Church is here to shine God’s light in the world and so lead the world to God.
- The Church to be the Body of Christ on earth. I understand that as members of Christ’s Body, God is our Father/ Mother (both) and we are all God’s children. Jesus is our elder brother and we are all brothers and sisters unto one another. You are my sisters and brothers in Christ, my mothers and fathers, my aunts and uncles, my nephews and nieces. The congregation, like every family, has some amount of dysfunction; however, God calls us to love and care for each member.
- That, as the Church, the Body of Christ, Christ says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded. Remember I am with you always even to the end of the age.”
Today I would like to use this last opportunity to comment on “Planting Seeds of Hope.”
In reflection on the subject of HOPE, Paul, in his letter to the Romans, chapter 8, says, “For it is by hope that we are saved. Hope that is seen is not hope. If we hope for what is not seen, we wait for it in eager longing.” In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul understands Hope as one of the three basic elements of Christianity, he says, “And now faith, hope and love abide these three…” The common saying is “Hope springs eternal.” Without HOPE there is no looking forward to life tomorrow/next week/ next year, no enthusiasm and no positive view for today. Without HOPE pessimism rules supreme and we are doomed to death. Christians are people of hope because Christians are “resurrection people” who are always looking forward to new life.
In the Gospel according to St. Mark, chapter 4 and verses 26 to 34, Jesus tells his disciples that the kingdom of God is like scattering seeds on the ground, and then going to sleep night and day and leaving those seeds to sprout and grow. Jesus further notes that some of those seeds may be the smallest of all seeds.
The Empire of God
is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,
and would sleep and rise night and day,
and the seed would sprout and grow,
the sower does not know how.
The earth produces of itself,
first the stalk, then the head,
then the full grain in the head.
– Mark 4.26-29, 31
The Rev’d. Steve Garnaas-Holmes (United Methodist Pastor in Acton, MA) says that the whole Empire (Kingdom [Church]) of God is dependent on Planting Seeds of Hope. Here are his words and thoughts:
“God is always scattering his/her grace, his/her beauty his/her presence in you and through you.
You are to scatter your tiny life in the world.
In light and darkness, clear times and obscured, you are to always go on.
You may die and rise, die and rise scattering seeds of hope.
By your presence and action of dying and rising you are scattering seeds of hope.
As you continue to die and rise, Divine Love in you will continue to grow.
It is pure mystery!—it is unseen, it is beyond our mastery, it is pure gift.
It comes slowly.
You wait. You watch. You keep watching.
You see slowly, you sense slowly the small signs.
In time there is fullness.
It is not something you accomplish. It is given.
You are sent, as a disciple to plant…
In time the reaping will come
What is most precious …you cut and give away…
Remember, in your offering others find new shade, new assurance, new courage and new life.
They soon find safety and then nourishment.
You yourself are God’s harvest.
You are an acorn of God growing for God.”
Keep planting seeds of hope, love, mercy, forgiveness, acceptance and assurance. In time, God will be about the increase. It is all of God!
We love you dearly and we will sincerely miss you,
Ezra, Michelle and Ernest