God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. The land produced vegetation—all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day. Genesis 1:10-13 (NLT2)
Sisters and Brothers, it is planting time! As a young boy, I remember growing a garden about one-third an acre in size. That’s a big garden, especially when you’re the youngest of five kids and had to do much of the weeding because that was “one thing you can do.” For my family, a garden was a necessity. We were poor and lived in the country, so planting and harvesting with tractors and combines rolling up and down our two-lane road were just part of the rhythm of life. We planted so we could eat.
Early in the Spring, around the time we planted, dandelions would pop up everywhere. So what was my job? We ate what was available and I was charged with picking only the tenderest of the dandelion greens to wilt in a hot vinegar, water, onion, salt, and pepper solution, to make them less bitter. (Let me know if that just brought back a memory for any of you. I always thought we were strange because none of my friends remember doing that.)
As an adult, I’ve usually maintained at least a couple tomatoe plants--my favorite garden prize! But not since moving to Fortville and a house with a postage stamp-size yard did I cultivate a thing…until now!
Inspired by two of our daughters, I have taken up raised bed gardening. My wife Paulette does the flower thing. And while I think they’re pretty, I essentially see them as something I’ve got to cut around while cutting grass. (I know…I’m an oaf!) But a garden…now that’s something that rewards your efforts with real food! I opted for 2’X6’ oblong hot-dipped galvanized livestock tanks.
I know “they” say you shouldn’t plant or put out young starts before Mother’s Day, but I’ve usually dared it to frost when I plant early. Okay, so yes a couple weeks ago I was out in the night covering and putting “my babies” to bed so they’d be warm. And yes, they all made it. (Not so for two of Paulette’s sunflowers.)
Here’s my confession: When I saw the tiny green sprouts from some seeds I’d planted just breaking the surface of the soil I’d worked so hard to get “just right,” I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning! The sense of accomplishment, the feeling of pride, but mostly the overwhelming anticipation for what was coming simply filled my heart and actually made my mouth water! (Don’t make fun.)
From those tiny sprouts, I know what’s coming, and it is GOOD! But whether you garden or not, we all understand anticipation for something good. In gardening and in faith, we plant seeds and then look for some small sign—small sprouts—that our efforts will eventually bear fruit (or tasty vegetables).
In this continuing “Season of Strange,” remember to look for the tiny sprouts of what is coming. Whatever normal is, we’re going to get to it sooner or later. What “is” certainly will not be all there “will be.” Friends, look around your family, your neighborhood, and certainly in the ministries of your church, there are beautiful signs—however small—of a certain and sure tomorrow that WILL BE AWESOME!
God made seed-bearing things even before He made Light and Dark (read what comes in the next verses of Genesis). Seeds are how things actually get done in much of God’s Kingdom. Help plant seeds of faith in someone else, or water seeds someone else already planted in them. Either way, that makes your efforts part of the harvest. And THAT my friends, is why we do it all!
Pastor Rusty <><
1. This Sunday is Memorial Day Sunday. We will be praying for all our active military and veterans. If you know one, please reach out to them to just thank them again for serving. Go out of your way to thank the person in the check-out line wearing a veteran’s hat. Stop over to the pantry and thank the (so very young) National Guard soldiers working SO HARD for the 1400 to 1600+ families helped every week now.
2. Sunday, May 31st, is Pentecost—the “birthday” of The Church! I invite you to wear RED as you worship on the 31st and send me pictures of your “worship in red” so I can share them with others!
3. This past Saturday we learned, with great joy, that the men and women of the Indiana National Guard, who have been serving at our Old Bethel & Partners Food Pantry since March 26 have been extended to June 24! We are asking for another round of snacks of the following items only: individually wrapped, single serving cookies, granola bars and sports drinks. You may deliver donations to the church June 1-5, 9am-3pm or you may order online and have the items delivered directly to the church.
4. The Message Notes for Sunday’s Message, “Heroes” is below.
MESSAGE NOTES for May 24, 2020 (Memorial Day): “Heroes”
Occasionally Congress acknowledges a soldier’s selfless efforts by awarding them the Medal of Honor. More often than not, these individual ___________ _____________ for the greater good of others.
It seems in every battle, heroic actions occur from individuals you would least expect. In a small, _________ __________ country ________ years ago, that’s exactly what happened.
The prophet Isaiah tells us there was nothing about Jesus __________ which would have hinted at the possibility of any heroics. (Isaiah 53, “…He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…He was pierced for our transgressions…He was crushed for our iniquities…”)
Matthew records in his gospel twice, Jesus responded to the pain and suffering He was about to endure with the words, “Not ____ will, Father, but _______ be done.”
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
The ultimate victory: the victory over the power of the ______ and of ____ in our lives, and ultimately, the victory over _______.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8
The most dynamic example of how Christ’s life, death, and resurrection inspired His people, is the fact that we are __________ in _________!
Christ-followers fight a different type of war beyond the physical act of _______ and ________.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3