There are some signs of life, in the form of worms that come to the surface when it rains or when I dig, but by and large the unplanted vegetable plot looks unremarkable. I look back at photographs from the previous years, and it is extraordinary to think that this apparently barren soil will, in relatively few weeks, look like a veritable jungle of edible things, in all shades of green and just bursting with life. This rapid change is one of the wonders of vegetable growing, since the transformation is much more rapid and remarkable than in almost any other aspect of gardening.
And the third reason for faith is knowing that the conditions for growth need to be right. In my gardening enthusiasm this year, I sowed sweet pea seeds in my new root trainers which allow the seeds to develop longer roots than normal pots, so that they grow well in the ground but I decided to ignore the fact that I had bought them a couple of years ago and they were out of date.
No shoots! Things I sowed outside optimistically in the warm spell in March are now, in the cooler April, doing nothing.
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And in previous years my sweet peas have failed because I did not provide enough feed, and carrots have forked and been stunted because the soil was too stony. Faith needs wisdom and understanding, so that the conditions are right for faith to be well founded. There are four major theological uses of the relation of seeds to plants in the New Testament. The best known is the so-called Parable of the Sower in Mark 4.
But if the sower is the One Jesus who teaches the Word, then by implication any who share in the ministry of Jesus become sowers of the word amongst those with whom they live. One of the big questions facing the Church of England and other churches at the moment is: why are Christians so often reluctant to talk about their faith with those outside the Church? We look at the apparently infertile soil around us, and cannot quite envisage the transformation that the crop of life will bring.
3 Keys to the Seed Faith Principle | Inspiration Ministries
We do see that vividly when someone does come to faith and shares their testimony, and that is often why a few coming to faith and talking about it can bring hope and a new confidence. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God gave the growth.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour.
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There is a practical reality in this which we are facing rather starkly: our supermarket culture, with its twin partner industrialised farming, treats the production of food as a solely human enterprise, but the catastrophic decline in insect life, including the death of bees, confronts us with our dependence on another power.
But in spiritual terms, it reminds us that church growth is ultimately a gift of God, and all our planning, training and strategising needs to be put in this overall context. But, in deploying this gospel metaphor, Paul is also indicating that sowing and watering are different tasks, requiring different skills and aptitudes. Planting churches is different from sustaining and maintaining them, and both are needed. I encountered communities marked by hope.
And for Liz and I? Well, where we perhaps assumed that a simpler lifestyle would mean fewer distractions and a deepening experience of faith, we have found that any relationship worth having requires work, and while at times God has seemed very close, at other times things have been harder.
Planting seeds of hope
We have found much to admire and much to love about people in Tanzania, but there have been things to confuse or discourage us. The highs have been very high, but the lows are sometimes very low. At times, our journey has been marked by self-doubt and by an awareness of our own frailty and flaws. At times, the road ahead is hard to discern. Life anywhere has moments when the world seems right, when the sun is shining, when we face the day with a song.
And life anywhere has days when we worry, we doubt, we ask: why me? But even in doubt, hope can grow.
Hope that where we are weak, God is strong. Hope that despite our frailty, God is able to take what little we have and multiply it beyond any realistic expectation we may have had of ourselves. Every day, just when we think we might have exhausted the grace of God, there is something, however small, that reminds us that God is still good, that love is still the strongest force on earth, and that the broken things of life can be remade in the hands of the one who longs to set us free.
Can I be honest? I know I have some skills. I know there are some things I can do well. And yet, I make a lot of mistakes—most of them entirely of my own making.
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But I believe that I can be better, and not because I have some secret reservoir of strength or because of my own inherent nobility. I believe I can be better because God desires to make things right and whole and good. To do this, I need to turn every day to God. I need to put my trust not in what I have or even what I want, but in the God who is able to supply all my needs.
All Saints is better than some other recent offerings in this regard. The viewer might do well to ask why he or she is choosing to see such a film. Is it to get away from the cursing, sex and violence of more mainstream movies? Do we believe such films can have an influence on society, even in a small way? Non-Christians may be unclear on the message of this movie. This film will appeal especially to those who have welcomed immigrants and refugees into their communities and who appreciate the contributions those newcomers offer.
If, on the other hand, you like to be inspired in your entertainment experience and want to encourage the continued production of similar movies, go ahead and enjoy All Saints. Canadian Mennonite invites comments and encourages constructive discussion about our content. Actual full names first and last are required. Comments are moderated and may be edited.