Monday, June 4, 2012

Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6, Ordinary 11: 10 June 2012

Years ago I said something stupid to a friend. She had told me that she was majoring in trumpet performance, but that she was also planning on getting her teaching credentials, “so that I have something to fall back on.” Desiring above all other things to seem funny, sophisticated and clever, I replied, “Don’t you think that people who have something to fall back on generally do?”

A couple of years after that, I ran into her at a party. She told me that, based on my clever little remark, she had dropped out of the education program to focus solely on playing the trumpet. The problem was, she wasn’t very good at it - she just enjoyed it very much, which is not a good way to get actual employment in the cut-throat world in which professional musicians live. Unable to gain employment in her chosen field, she was working for minimum wage at a job she hated and wondering what she was going to do with her life.
In 2009, Jennifer Copeland invited readers of Homily Service to consider Jesus’ two seed-based parables for this week in terms of the metaphorical seeds that we plant as Christian leaders.
We plant seeds all the time and like the seeds lying dormant in our gardens we never know exactly which ingredients will combine to make them grow into healthy plants. Water is essential, but too much water drowns the young plants. Sunlight is necessary, but too much sun scorches the young stalks. We do not know why it take some seeds longer than other seeds to sprout forth or why some seeds don’t ever grow at all. If we hold a fistful of seeds in our hands, we can’t tell by looking at them which ones will grow or how big they will be. Jesus uses this simple analogy to get to the hearts of Christian mentoring. We do not know who will see the things we do or hear the things we say, but we do know that the seeds lie all around us. The water and light we provide through faithful living will have some influence on the growth of those seeds even while the Holy Spirit provides the main ingredients for germination. It behooves us, therefore, to plant well.
Did you ever find out later that you had planted a destructive seed?
Jennifer Copeland (2009): “14 June 2009; Proper 6; Ordinary 11,” Homily Service, 42:3, 33.
Jennifer Copeland is the United Methodist Chaplain at Duke University and director of the Duke Wesley Fellowship.

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