Monthly Archives: April 2014

Building and planting

After a remarkably cold winter, spring feels extra sweet this year. For our household, it’s time to plant and time for a significant home improvement project.  

When it comes to planting, Abbie and I are still in the “dabbler” category, although we’re getting better at it. We have a garden plot tilled up in the back yard (thanks Fred S) and so far we have onions, sugar snap peas, and lettuce in the ground, along with a rhubarb plant we just received, and garlic from last fall. It’s all starting to grow.

The main home improvement project for the year is installing a new kitchen. After tearing out a dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room right when we moved into the house, the arrangement has felt kind of in-between, and now it’s time to change the whole floor plan with new cabinets and countertops. We made a trip to Ikea last Monday and our entire new kitchen is sitting in flat packed boxes in the garage waiting for our efforts to assemble and install them.

And therein lays (lies?) the difference between planting and building. I’ve done more building in my life than planting, and one of the things that never ceases to amaze me about planting is how the seed carries within it a life of its own and, given the right conditions and occasional care, grows and produces on its own. But those boxed up cabinets will not assemble or install themselves. Every inch of progress on that project will come because of our own efforts.

People often speak of “building the Kingdom of God,” but I can’t find where Jesus ever used that language. He did speak of it as something that grows, like a seed. And there is a profound difference between thinking about the Kingdom of God as something that we build, or something that is planted and grows through a life of its own, for which we need only to prepare the proper conditions, and tend. And be amazed.

Twelve and Six Scriptures

I took a break from this weekly blog during Lent because of the daily devotions series. Many thanks to those of you who shared your thoughts and insights in what turned out to be a wonderfully eclectic and soul-affirming journey. And now we’re into the Easter season.

One of the topics that the wider church has been discussing for a number of years now is the role of the Bible in our personal and collective lives. How we read and interpret the Bible (or not!) says a lot about us. The passages that we elevate as central to faith and those that we minimize, disagree with, or ignore, shape how we go about life. And how we go about life in turn shapes our understanding of the Bible. Some of us have had a Bible-saturated life and have a complex and nuanced relationship with it, while others approach the Bible with a fresh curiosity, or a passive indifference.

Perhaps by now you’ve read or heard that this spring CMC is embarking on a Twelve Scriptures project – venturing to name the Twelve Scriptures that are of central importance to us. We would love for as many people as possible to be involved, with each person coming up with their own list of twelve to submit. These could be single verses (e.g. Micah 6:8), passages or chapters (e.g. Psalm 23), or stories (e.g. The Prodigal Son). Hey, a quarter of the way there! If you’re in a small group, this would make for a great discussion topic. If you’re a Sunday school teacher, you might consider giving a portion of one class to having your kids brainstorm and record their favorite Bible stories and why. It could even make for good conversation around family dinner.

Jim F. will be leading an adult Sunday school class which will serve as the hub of the project. All lists can be submitted to the church office and during their last session on May 18 members of Jim’s class will help discern the final list. Those twelve scriptures will be the basis of our summer worship.

But the Bible isn’t all Love your neighbor and Swords into ploughshares. There’s some rough stuff in there, and that very stuff might be part of the reason for our ambivalence or mixed feelings about said holy book. So, along with your top twelve, we invite each person to also submit the six passages that they find most difficult, confusing, or downright nasty. In my opinion, this would also make for a pretty good worship series sometime.

The Delightful Dozen and the Dangerous Half-Dozen, or something like that.

This should be fun, and hopefully will take us into a deeper and more authentic relationship with the book that has been the companion of the church from its early days.