Pastor Mary’s Musings
I Corinthians 3: 7,9: “So neither the one who plants, nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field….”
Of course, Paul wasn’t talking about real plants; he was talking about the congregation’s spiritual (and, yes, numeric) growth. But this time of year, as I look at my garden and see sprouts and vigorous plants in all my raised beds and pots, it is easy to see the similarities between church and agriculture.
In a really productive garden, there is not simply one planting, then stop and wait. The grower plants seeds and crops in season successively. Thus, when some plants are coming ripe, other seeds go in the ground. The harvest is extended, both how long fruits can be gathered, as well as the variety of food available. For example, in my own yard, while tomatoes are only blossoms, and beans are only sprouts, I have been enjoying peas, rhubarb, chard & kale for several weeks. I can’t enjoy all the fruit all at once, but there is the promise of moving from one as it wanes, to the next as it comes in season. But just because I planted the seeds, doesn’t mean I get full credit for the harvest. I did not send the rain, create the soil, or engineer the DNA that allows a shriveled seed to know, once buried in the ground and watered, whether it will be a sunflower or a zucchini or a bean or a carrot. I can only plant and trust God at work in the growth and harvest. Occasionally, some specific crops disappoint, the weather doesn’t co-operate, the bugs get more than their share – but I usually have enough of some portion of the crop that not only do I enjoy it, I have some to share.
The church to which Paul was writing had been arguing over whose “Christianity” was most authentic, based on the particular person by whom they had been baptized. Paul dismisses that premise for conflict, by basically reminding them that, church wasn’t /isn’t about them. It is about God. It isn’t what we do that makes worship or congregation valid, but what God has done in and through worship (forgiveness of sins in the sacrament, promise of divine presence) that makes church holy.
That being said, we are not exempt from participation in the process once the seeds are planted! Paul wasn’t suggesting folks sit around waiting for something to happen! Simply that while they (we) work, we trust God for the results, rather than trying to force them, or take credit for them ourselves. Then, when the results begin to take place – we still have cause to rejoice!
God is also growing fruits of the Spirit here and we get to share in them, then share those fruits with others. Whether it is Bible studies, worship and music, thefood bank, quilting, or "just plain fellowship," it is always exciting to wait expectantly for the harvest the Spirit will bring! All are welcome to share in this joy -- including you!
Your fellow gardener for Christ,