Pledge Sunday Sermon
April 12, 2015
"Love Grows, One By One”
I’m going to start with a little story from my life.
My Dad is a singer and he was always a singer in my childhood. We’d grow up with him traveling to schools and performance venues singing his repertoire of songs for children and families. His repertoire changed as we changed, but there was one piece in it that you could count on him keeping, and that was his last song of the show, a song called “Love Grows” which I’m going to sing a part of to you now, God willing!
Love grows, one by one,
Two by two and four by four.
Love grows ‘round like a circle
And comes back knocking on your front door.
Today is Pledge Sunday and usually we talk to you about money and why you should invest in Eliot Church, but Patrick O’Reilly and “Rev. John Eliot” have already done some of that in the Children’s Message, so thank you to you two! The reading today came from Jesus’ ministry, the parable of the sower. It speaks to the uncertainty of sowing seeds and the care with which we take in sowing our seeds. In one patch of soil, the seeds fall haphazardly on the gravel and they are unable to take root; on another, there are weeds that choke out the life of the plants; some seeds fall on the road and become bird-food, and some fall in really healthy soil and flourish. Jesus challenges us to read this metaphoric parable and to listen. Are we listening? I look around at Eliot Church and I see exactly what kind of patch we are: we’re some real good soil.
On our bulletins are written the following words: Building Community, Growing Faith, Living Love. I want to add to each of these seeds that we’re planting in this patch. We are a church that is building community, but we’re also a church that is Celebrating Community. That’s evident in the support for our youth, the children in the congregation, the ministers – those who preach, those who teach and those who make music – and we celebrate this community in a way that simply makes us stronger. That’s some real good soil!
We’re s church the does grow faith, but we also Explore Faith. That’s easy to see in the spiritual forums we hold, the Men’s and Women’s Spirituality groups we run, where women can go reflect on their connections with God and with each other in meetings and retreats, and where men can go talk about issues that are today’s spiritual issues and can go into the broader community to explore and experience faith in other religious contexts, so that looking at their own faith becomes a richer experience. And I cannot deny the faith power of our Sunday worship services and the talent and ability of our preachers. All that, that’s real good soil!
We are definitely a church that is living love, but we’re also a church that is Sharing Love. We share love with each other when we pass the peace, and we share and show love to others with our mission trips and community service projects, to nature and all God’s creatures with blessing the animals, and to the memory and wisdom of this church that is represented by its elders – to whom a massive Thank You is owed for preserving this church through your gifts of memory and history-keeping. That’s real good soil!
How can these seeds not flourish in this soil? In order to see the harvest of our sewing, we have to remember that these harvests are not overnight events. They take time and cultivation. We have to be mindful of the soil and turn it every now and then, water the plants we’ve planted to keep them growing, give them space and air and sunlight to give them the best chance of surviving, and we can only do that through constantly giving of ourselves to this place, this building, this community and the mission it represents in the world. Do we have certainty that the seeds we’re planting are going to grow in the soil and yield a magnificent harvest? Nope. And that’s where faith comes in. We can only do as much as we are able to give our seeds the chance to become something great, and when they do become great, we become great with them.
That’s stewardship. That’s what our pledges are trying to achieve: to keep this soil as good as it gets, we donate ourselves and our resources so that we can continue to be a healthy patch of God’s garden.