Sowing, planting and reaping (23-04-21)
A Bible Reading: Isaiah 28. 23 - 29
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.
Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.
Sowing and planting is in full swing at the Rectory and the window sills on the south side of the house are full of seedlings. Thanks to the lockdown, I was organised and started early. A careful reading of the seed packets has resulted in some seeds sown on the surface of the soil, some under a light covering of compost, some 1 cm deep, some 1.5 cm and still others sown directly into the ground outside where they will crop. I have also been glad of Monty Don’s weekly updates in the newspaper to remind me what I should be doing when.
After two growing seasons in the Rectory, I am also discovering what will grow successfully in our vegetable plot, what grows well in containers on the patio and what is not worth bothering with! And much of my gardening is done to the sound of Brian on his tractor, rolling or harrowing or harvesting in the nearby fields depending on the time of year.
Thus, I was fascinated to come across this passage in Isaiah with its detailed description of sowing, tending and harvesting, each crop with its particular requirement. If you do things in the right way at the right time, you get a fruitful yield. However, here intermingled with the horticultural tips are some key phrases, which can be applied more widely.
The passage begins with a command from the Lord: “Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.” As we begin to emerge from the lockdown restrictions, we are considering afresh how we can reach out effectively into our local community. Where do we invest time to sow and plant into people’s lives? What is an appropriate approach for each age group? How do we connect with the school, the village halls, the pubs, and so on? How will we continue to nurture the spiritual life of our four congregations in the future? Each will be different if good fruit is to grow. Now is a time to listen to God in prayer, to hear his voice and to pay attention, so that we don’t labour in vain or put energy into the unproductive.
Just like the farmer, if we pay attention and listen for his voice, “God will instruct us and teach us the right way.” “All this comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.” The Lord is not phased by Covid-19 or by lockdowns and he still has a wonderful plan for us here in the Walgrave Benefice.
Thank you, Lord, that your plan is wonderful and your wisdom is magnificent. Give us ears to hear, diligence to pay attention, and energy to put what we hear from you into practice. Amen.
Come set your rule and reign