I was definitely a daddy’s girl! I loved my daddy as much as anybody could love. Tragically, Daddy died in a plane crash when I was nine years old. My mother heard the news of the crash on her car radio … and she knew.
Now, I’m sure that back in the dark ages (1950s) there were single-parent families, but I didn’t know of a single one. I suddenly found myself to be “different,” and so did some of my “friends.” Fathers’ Day was an especially dreaded day because it was the custom in my church to wear flowers. Every churchgoer whose father was living wore a red flower, and those with deceased fathers wore a white flower. (The same custom for Mothers’ Day.)
As you have guessed by now, I was the only kid wearing a white rosebud. My friends noticed immediately and were quick to point out that fact, which made me most uncomfortable. All I heard was, “You are different!” They would ask, “Why are you wearing a white flower?” when I’m sure they already knew the answer. I am so relieved that the flower custom has largely died out.
As a pastor I have sat on the chancel steps with children on Fathers’ Day, and have observed that several do not have dads in their households. I can identify with them on Fathers’ Day, knowing well how they must feel. A social worker friend of mine has advised me not to ask children where they live, but instead to ask, “Who are you staying with?” So frequently today, the answer to that question is Grandma.
There is a happy ending to my story. When I was fourteen, my mother met and married an incredibly wonderful man. I could not have asked for a better dad, which he certainly was to me. I loved him dearly, just as much as I had loved my first daddy.
A Seedy Situation Mark 4:26-34
On a warm sunny spring day, it looked for all the world like snow falling and settling onto the new green grass. Of course it wasn’t snow, but cottonwood trees, scattering fluffy seeds that were blowing in the wind. Next came the helicopters from maple trees, followed by still more fluff from the dandelion population.
Some seeds fall on paved roads, where they cannot possibly grow roots. Vehicles drive over and crush the seeds; rain washes them into storm sewers; and the sun bakes them dry.
Other seed falls on rocky ground, such as gravel driveways, where seeds germinate, but the sprouts quickly wither in the sun, and wash away with the first rainfall.
Still other seed falls among thorns and weeds, which have a head-start. The plants that were there first grab more than their share of the rain and hog the sunshine. They end up choking the struggling seedlings.
Only a small number of seeds fall on good soil. Each individual seed sends down tiny roots, gathers nutrients, gains strength, and becomes a thriving young plant. When the time has fully come, trees and plants will bloom and form seeds, multiplying exponentially.
The trees and plants will scatter those seeds just as haphazardly and extravagantly as their parent plants did- on roads and rocks, among weeds and thorns. Most seeds will fail. But once again, a few seeds will fall on fertile soil, and start the process all over again.
Both we and the disciples see ourselves as “good soil,” producing a rich harvest. God does not dispense favors, one by one, selecting only the persons who will generate the best returns. Instead, God works like those cottonwood trees, scattering possibilities wildly, extravagantly, without regard for race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Then God waits to see where those seeds will take root.
Jesus says that the reign of God is like a mustard seed which, like the tree, grows large enough to become a nesting place for birds. Jesus did not say a place for only sparrows, only blue jays, or only robins. This is inclusive – all birds of whatever color feather, and whatever song they choose to sing.
Consider a play on the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who says, “You must be the change you wish to see," by changing it to, "You must be the change you wish to seed.” Explore the ways in which even small random acts of kindness and compassion plant the seeds of God's love, which can grow and flourish.
Creature Feature 2 Corinthians 5:6-17
When Europeans first went to Australia, they found many new creatures that they had never seen before. Can you imagine the excitement when new settlers saw their first kangaroo? They also discovered the koala, the emu, the kiwi bird, and the duck-billed platypus. Australia was a continent filled with new creatures.
Christians, too, are new creatures. Christians were not encountered until after the death and resurrection of Christ. When Christ lives within us, we, too, become new creatures. We look the same, but we don’t think or act the same as before. We are not the persons we used to be.
The Corinthians could easily have testified to the dramatic change that being “in Christ” could produce. We no longer see according to the flesh; we see according to the cross. The cross changes everything. For Paul the Resurrection signals God’s inauguration of a new season, a cosmic springtime in Christ. Everything has truly become new.
God’s plan for human redemption involves re-creation. We were created in the image and likeness of God. As a result of our poor choices, that image became distorted. We are indeed new creatures in Christ. Our hope is Christ to whom the future belongs. Let us take comfort and joy in the newness that is created by the Spirit within and around us.