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At St. Paul’s: “Our primary mission is to relate to, and minister to people who are living on the edge, who seek God’s will for their lives, struggling to find direction and purpose in a society that can be violent, insensitive and money-grabbing.”
If you have ever grown any veggies, flowers or fruits, then you know that the
farmer must prepare the best soil possible for the best plants and best harvest.
This is important. I know a man over in Kentucky garden who has amazing plants;
he never steps on the soil around his plants so that it remains porous. He puts
on coffee grounds and vegetable rinds for fertilizer. Good soil produces the best
Path, gravel, weeds, these don’t make for good soil. The master gardener gave us
four options, only one is the correct environment for proper plant production.
So, let’s just say that God is the heavenly farmer. Let’s say that God is sowing
seeds of the kingdom all the time, and they are landing where they may. What
is happening here? There? What different kinds of soil are in the world? In our
society? If we read the news; so many news stories are rocky soil at best.
I am not talking about stories like Germany winning another round of the World
Cup of Soccer, or the RNC convention or the bridge exploding and coming down. I
am talking about real news. Lebron!
But first, here’s a big news item u might have missed behind the flashbulbs: US
government tariffs are being imposed on international steel pipe companies,
mostly from South Korea, who sold gas and oil well pipes at bargain prices to gas
and oil fracturing companies which undercut US made steel pipes. These pipes
are preferred by fracking companies who are drilling new wells all over mid-
Ohio, Penn, W Va. The Dept of Commerce is going to collect the fines. I imagine
that these fracking companies have saved themselves millions of dollars by using
cheap imported products. And then I bet these CEOs all gave themselves big
So if God is sowing seeds of the kingdom here in Ohio, is it falling on good soil?
I am bringing these news items to my sermon to prove a point, that while the
whole world focuses on Lebron, there is a lot of dirt going on that needs our
attention even more.
What kind of soil is this: Cheap cold-hearted capitalists who are only interested in
padding their wallets and could care less about fellow blue collar workers who are
laid off when steel from foreign competition undercuts US Steel industry products
illegally. And what about the earthquakes in Ashtabula Co. and contaminated
drinking water of millions of people. I say we fine them all and make them eat
bread and drink bottled water from their own frack sites. Ok, so that’s a little
But I ask you, when the heavenly farmer sows the seeds around here, where will
the seeds land?
Let’s look at another example of news that you might have missed: Security
breaches in your data processing, your information which corporations share
with each other. These breaches which lead to identity theft in hundreds of
cases, increased in the last year by 25%. Why is that? Are these corporations also
sharing your security information, usernames and passwords, too? Well, don’t
they send you an ad, you click on it and then there is a cookie in your computer,
and then they can communicate with your computer, get data and you don’t even
know it. If the heavenly sower was spreading seeds in this area, what kind of
growing conditions would be found?
I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but the news is just full of these tidbits of
information. While the headlines were full of Lebron, we might have missed this
news item: our Ohio State lawmakers cut so much from the transportation, parks,
schools, etc. budget in Cleveland and Cuyahoga Co. that we are having another
fiscal crisis. The casino revenue cannot make up the difference. So all of these
entities are having to lay off workers again. So a few wealthy people at the top
of the 1 % can enjoy tax cuts, the middle class suffers. Highways and bridges and
waterways suffer. That is what our tax money goes for.
If the master gardener’s seeds fell in this area, would they grow? I don’t think so.
Another one: Certain people are trying to de-regulate and decrease the bite
of the Environmental Protection Agency. They want to undermine the Clean
Water Act and allow more hazardous waste like fertilizers and hospital waste
to flow into the Great Lakes. The EPA needs our help to protect our Great Lake
from Cyanobacteria – which causes these huge blue green algae blooms that
dramatically cuts the oxygen levels in the water, literally suffocating fish, water
fowl and other creatures that rely on the lakes for survival. When the seeds from
the master farmer fall in this environment will it sprout and bear fruit?
But the biggest news of the week is from the Lebron James camp. The Prodigal
son has returned. He is forgiven his past sins. Funny I thought God did that . . .
But really, Lebron is coming back to Cleveland, where he was born and raised
and had his first successes as an athlete in his growing years. And the buzz all
over town is how good the Cavs will be this year when he returns to the new
line up as a leader, as a ring bearer, as a role model for the other players and
someone who can lead the team to Championship. I am not a rabid fan. I don’t
need my photo op with Lebron gear. I enjoy watching him. I enjoy watching a
good game when I have the time. I have probably watched maybe 5 games in the
last couple of years. I watched a little of the San Antonio Spurs beating the Miami
Heat. Interesting, but I want to make a prediction. The Cavs will be better and
Cleveland will be better because of Lebron.
But back to the Master Farmer sowing kingdom seeds; I want to talk about the
type of soil that God might be looking for in order to plant some healthy plants.
And reap a rewarding and plentiful harvest. It all happens in community. Rich,
fertile soil for the Master planter is found in the type of group Jesus gathered
around himself when he was training disciples. Martin Luther King, Jr. called
the Beloved Community. I guess you have heard this before from me, but I have
a little different twist on it this year, since I have been focusing on Creating
Communities of Peace and also have been involved in making a peace mural. Our
community here in Ohio City and St. Paul’s is rich fertile soil.
In addition to having a more fertile growing area, I have been reading a book
called The Abundant Community by John McKnight and Peter Block: actually the
sub title could well be: how to make our lives more rich and satisfying using the 5
basic tenets of abundance, as follows:
1) what we have is enough
2) We have the capacity to provide what we need in the face of the human
3) We organize our world in a context of cooperation and satisfaction
4) We are responsible for each other
5) We live with the reality of the human condition
While I am on vacation over the next few weeks I will be doing research into these
areas, and hopefully, I can come back with some new ideas that will help to make
some improvements in the way we live together.
But let me say this: We don’t always know how good we have it. We have all
we need; we have all the gifts that God has given. We have trusting and serving
relationships. God’s abundance is everything we need and so much more. We
have to use it wisely to help one another thrive and live in peace. Cooperating
with one another brings so much more satisfaction than doing it all on our own.
We now, must build on that foundation.
Yesterday I watched as a great grandmother died in the hospital surrounded by
all of her kids, grandkids, etc. she had lived an exemplary life of service, to her
family, to her community, and Loretta Ethridge will rest in peace, she deserves
the peace and quiet. She told me many times how blessed of a life she had.
Because she shared everything she had with anyone who was in need. One time,
I helped her rebuild the fence in her backyard. She gave me $1000. Told me to
buy new drapes for the church. She lived knowing that she was never short of
anything. Including love.