Earlier this week, Sharon Coffman inspired me with thoughts of spring in her devotional study at the Session Meeting. The change back to winter with ice and the possibility of snow has not dampened that mood for me as I sit down to write this month’s newsletter article.
I have always planted a garden as a homeowner. From a few pots to a few raised beds and an entire flower garden, it is a calming and therapeutic task most days. Evan is of the age now that he thinks gardening is fun. He likes playing in the dirt, planting seeds, watering, and even pulling weeds. – That may change one day, but I will take advantage of it while I can. – This winter, we got ambitious with our garden: we would grow the tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and more from seed. In late January, we started planting tiny seeds in seed starter pots and watering them religiously. We rejoiced as the first buds started to break through the dirt. We celebrated as they touched the roof of our tiny greenhouse and we had to move them to bigger pots.
They did not thrive in their new home, however. The dog knocked over a pot investigating one day and the plant was hopelessly damaged. Simon tried to “help” his brother and I by pulling off leaves. We lost a couple of quick growing pumpkin plants that way. We moved the trays of seeds into a sunny window and the combination of the sun’s rays and the heater vent’s blowing air dried out the plants more than we could water them. Some are still holding on, but it looks like this batch of plants will be a total loss except for some very hearty peppers. Evan had great fun seeing the process, so it was not a complete waste of time.
One of the lessons I am teaching my kids and that I have found invaluable in the church is resiliency. All is not lost when the plants all die. We can plant more and start again. All is not lost when X, Y, and Z happens in the church either. They always have happened and always will. What matters is that second part about starting again, renewing efforts, looking with fresh eyes, and trying something new. As I look out at the church and all the places where there is truly lifegiving work being done in the church, often it is where there have been a lot of failures and trying again. The opposite is also true. Many times the churches that are stuck in a rut or are on the verge of closing are there because of some distant wrong that always stuck around and the church never got past.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 6. It is a time of renewal. It is also a test of resiliency. It is a time of dying and rising again. Refining. What must die in us and in the church to be reborn again? Where do you or we need a new chance, a rebirth? How do we build resilience into the DNA of our faith and church? How might we grow and thrive if we do just that?