God speed the plough (19-01-23)
Bible Readings: Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. When a farmer ploughs for planting, does he plough continually? Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? When he has levelled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way…All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom. (Isaiah 28. 23 – 26, 29)
Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4. 26 – 29)
Last Sunday we celebrated Plough Sunday at the Benefice Service in Walgrave. In doing so, we were reconnecting with an age-old tradition as well as considering what it might mean for us today. We heard Wisdom from the Old Testament prophets and Parables of Jesus from the Gospels along with some insights into farming today from Brian Knight, who came equipped with a blade from a plough (surprisingly heavy for a small piece of metal) and some seed corn to show us. The youngsters all planted ‘supergreens’, which they will be able to watch germinating and growing in the coming days, secure in the knowledge that whether they sleep or get up, all by itself the seed will grow.
This ties in very well with Leading your Church into Growth and our expectations of church growth during 2023. First the ground is carefully prepared, but the farmer does not spend all his time ploughing. Different types of seeds are planted in different places, as God instructs. There is a message here for us, as we plant the seeds of the gospel into the lives of our families, friends and neighbours. We cannot spend all our time ‘preparing the ground’, waiting for the right moment. At some point, we have to step out in faith, listen to God and do some sowing. The sowing is our part of the deal. Nothing is going to grow in the soil except weeds, if we don’t sow any good seed.
Sowing a seed might be praying for church growth every time you dig your own garden, or peel your veg, or it might be praying the LYCIG prayer every day. Sowing a seed might be sitting down with someone over a cuppa and sharing a bit of your story of faith in a relaxed conversation. Sowing a seed might be as easy as inviting someone you know to come to a Lent lunch or the safari supper, or suggesting that they come to a special service or join an Alpha course.
I encourage you to sow liberally in whatever way you can and see where God gives the growth. If we all do a bit of ploughing, preparing the soil and sowing, God will give the growth and it will result in an exciting journey of faith and a healthy, vibrant growing church during 2023.
God bless the plough. God bless the soil. God bless the seed.
‘Ploughing Theme’ from the film, Warhorse, composed by John Williams.
Ploughing can be tough work, but with God nothing is impossible.
Please note that you can join the next Leading your Church into Growth course with Peterborough Diocese on Zoom soon:
Friday 10 (evening)– Saturday 11 March (morning) and Friday 24 (evening)– Saturday 25 March (morning)