I grew up on a farm, but honestly, I know nothing about farming. In the words of a good friend, “The only thing I know about farming is that it is either too wet or too dry.”
Being on a farm, of course we had a garden. I tried to continue that tradition into my adult life. The time came, however, when our first daughter was born, and I felt we needed to make a choice – either we take care of the garden or we take care of the baby. We chose the baby.
She was born in March, so when the time came for spring planting, we didn’t plant anything.
Don’t think for a moment that just because we didn’t plant seeds, things didn’t grow there. By midsummer we had the best crop of thistles and weeds of anyone around. It was a real Stephen King horticultural nightmare. It wasn’t pretty. I was thankful my Dad never visited during that time because he would have been absolutely appalled.
I like to tell this story to new parents or parents of young children, especially parents who say they don’t want to force religion onto their children.
I tell them, “Hey, if you don’t plant the seeds of faith that you want to see nurtured and growing in your children, don’t think for a moment that something isn’t being planted there.”
As a parent, I learned quickly that I wanted to influence my children any and every way that I could. If their Dad and I did not influence them, then someone or something else certainly would have stepped in and done so.
As a pastor, I have and continue to encourage parents to plant the seeds that they want to see growing in their children, to fill them with all the goodness they can.
Teach them about sharing and generosity; teach them about love and kindness; teach them about forgiveness and helpfulness; teach them how to care for others and to be merciful; teach them about working together, compromising, and cooperation.
Teach them about Jesus, the Son of God, who came into the world to show us how much God loves the world. Teach them and model for them those things that will make the world a better place, because honestly, the alternative isn’t so pretty.
There’s another part to this story that I often hear as a pastor. It comes from the parents and grandparents who did sow the seeds of faith in their children and grandchildren – but now there are so many young people absent from worship and the community of faith.
Quite frankly, your parents and grandparents are sad about this; they grieve your absence. They want you to continue growing in your faith, to continue nurturing and strengthening your relationship with Jesus Christ. They want you to have the support of a faith community that they have always had, and they want you to be a part of a faith community providing support to others who may be in need.
They would love to have you beside them when they worship – to share in the joy of the Lord together. They would like to have you worship the God of your salvation – so that the next time you join the worship community isn’t when you attend their funeral.
Now I realize that this may have sounded a bit harsh, and if I’m wrong, I apologize, and you can continue to the next article.
I also realize that if I’m right, then those who read this article are probably the parents and grandparents who would like to have their children or grandchildren join them for worship.
If that’s the case, show them this article; keep sowing seeds of faith, and invite them to join you for worship this Sunday.
Rev. June M. Fryman is Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Wilmington.