“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 (NRSV)
I love to eat. Being a farm boy, oftentimes I am reminded of just how the food gets from the seed to the table.
As a small boy, I would follow my father down the field as he would sow the wheat each fall. The field had been prepared by an older brother for the seed bed just before my father did his work. Seed would be carried in a bib fashioned from a burlap sack. His movement was a coordinated rhythm as his hand and feet had to move in sync. I can still hear the handful of wheat as it left his hand making a “SWISH” sound as it flew through the air to its prepared place.
Not long after the seeds were planted, the tiny shoots would emerge from the ground. They didn’t look like much at first, but as winter gave way to spring, the tiny plants took on a new life. Soon there were heads of wheat and we would sample them right there in the field… the taste of Spring. Harvesting took place in mid-May and off to the market and grinder we would go. Most of the crop was sold, but we also saved enough to have flour all year. Hot biscuits every day, muffins and cake and pies on the weekend.
From a few bushels of wheat, there was a truckload, more than enough to feed a large family for an entire year and have money for many essentials.
That was a long time ago, but since then, Jesus’ words ring even more true to me today than ever before. The lessons taught me by my father without words still ring out to me today. Yes, a seed must die in order to produce a plant for another year’s produce.
My faith journey has been largely shaped by a man who didn’t say a lot about faith. It was his examples that taught me about trust and faith and what is required for an abundant harvest. Put your last seed in the earth to provide for next year.
He taught me that when the hail storm destroys all the crops, God can turn a little into a lot, that I am a beloved child of God, and that God wants me to trust God enough to see if God won’t bring the dead seed to life and give an exceeding large harvest.
My father taught me how to live expectedly, how to serve, and how to look for new life even in places of scarcity and need. How to let go of what‘s held tightly in the hand and see what comes back at its appointed time. This can only happen by the work of the Holy Spirit.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
When you appeared in those lands,
curing the sick,
raising the dead,
preaching to the poor,
bringing hope to the people,
something began on earth like when a stone is cast
into a quiet lake and starts ripples
that finally reach the farthest shore.
You appeared in Zebulun and Naphtali
with signs of liberation:
shaking off oppressive yokes,
bringing joy to hearts,
Teach us to sow along with you, Lord Jesus. Amen
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To become educated this week:
Look for space where you can listen to impacted community members.
To cultivate growth this week:
Look for one way to collaborate with local immigrant organizations in your community this week.
To advocate this week:
Start a conversation with a neighboring congregation to respond to the harsh actions seen in our communities.
Gary Locklear is the conference lay leader in the North Carolina Conference.