July 8, 2012

Ministry is Sowing Seeds

This year, so far, we have looked at ways we can have the heart for God and of God. Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians and people of Philippi to ‘rejoice, pray, give thanks, and be Spirit filled’ in order to live in the peace of God started off the year during Epiphany. (see the blog posts for January) The ‘peace of God’ is not a quiet corner or an unchanging sameness. Instead, the peace of God is active and challenging.
God’s peace takes us on a journey like those of Dorothy in Oz and Naomi in Moab, which we studied during Lent. (February and March blogs) Even when we think we are lost and cannot find our way home, God provides friends and guidance until we discover there is a new beginning, but we have to let go and fall into God’s arms first.
During Easter-tide we looked at Psalm 100 (April and May postings) as a way to live into that new beginning when we ‘make a joyful noise and worship’ the God we come to know more and more each day. Living into new life often means abandoning many of our preconceived plans and ideas for our life, though. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at Charles de Foucauld’s Prayer of Abandonment as a way to learn how to let go so God can act.
The season of Pentecost is sometimes called Ordinary Time because it’s a time in the church year when there are no big feast days like Christmas or Easter. However, Pentecost is the time in the Church calendar when growth in ministry, both personal and in the Body of Christ can happen. The Festival times of the year can be so busy with the preparations and celebrations, that we can lose sight of living and growing in Christ.
Living as a person ‘after God’s heart’ is God’s ultimate plan, but it is lived out differently by each one of us. It can be easy to say or think “I’m not doing enough because I am not doing x, y, or z like that person who has a great and huge ministry.” However, I recently heard a quote from William Wordsworth: “The best portion of a good man's life - his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." It’s not necessarily the big pieces of ministry that we do, but the little day-to-day things that show we belong to Christ. Perhaps it is as simple as setting up a pool so children can play in the summer, or offering a smile to a tired check out clerk... 
Ministry is very much like the Parable of the Growing Seed from Mark 4:26-28 which we will be looking at for the next few weeks. We don’t see what’s happening underground, and have to trust that something IS happening. In her Easter letter Katherine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, said “I would encourage you to look at where you are finding new life and resurrection, where life abundant and love incarnate are springing up in your lives and the lives of your communities. There is indeed greenness, whatever the season.” Even if you don’t feel like you are ‘doing’ ministry, you are part of the entire ministry of the Body of Christ-the Church of God. 
Read the Parable of the Growing Seed sometime in the next week, just to see if it speaks to you about ministry, then come and check out the blog over the next few weeks as we consider together what seed sowing and growing can teach us about ministry and living as a person after God's heart.

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