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Unless a Grain Falls...


The last month and a half is my favorite season of the year!  It’s planting season.  Five years ago, I started my adventure with square foot gardening.  I was intent on being a suburban farmer with a 4’x8’ garden where I mixed my own soil.  Each year I have experimented with some new crops, but what has been consistent is the process of planting seeds, watering, and watching them grow.  Some seed seems to have a better success rate than others.

Not only do I love to watch the plants grow, but I love the imagery and connectivity to scripture and our lives of faith.  Jesus speaks of gardening, and of plantings in a variety of ways.

“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

When plants flower in my flower gardens I love to watch the seeds drop into the earth.  I always wonder if the seed will actually take root when it falls into the mulched bed.  Either way, nothing grows without that first seed like the grain which falls into the earth and bears much fruit!

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on a path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. If you have ears, hear!” (Matthew 14:1-9)


My style of gardening always starts out organized however I tend to plant enough seeds in my 4’x8’ garden that I could have planted a quarter acre worth of a garden.  Some of my seeds are eaten by birds, and if they are lucky enough to sprout, then occasional they meet the rabbits.  The resident bunny didn’t stick around too long this year!

Dear friends, our lives of faith are a constant planting, nurturing, harvesting and repeat.  We may find ourselves at different parts of the journey at this time.  I invite you to take notice of your life.  Are seeds just falling on your path of life only to be eaten up by the birds, of rocky ground where the roots don’t stand a chance when the sun rises.  Are the seeds being choked out by thorns in your life?  (things that keep you so busy that send your attention this way and that) Or are the seeds falling on good soil which brings forth growth?

 We may find ourselves in places in life that are not bearing the fruit you had once hoped for, or not encouraging growth and new life… however even in those seasons our God who loves us dearly, continues to till the soil, and nourishes the seeds by stirring up in us the Spirit of God’s love. 

Some days we may feel as though seeds are falling on dried out crusty soil, but our God is there tilling, and watering, fertilizing and weeding the gardens of our lives.  Amen.

Posted by Jonathan Boynton

The Rev. Jonathan Boynton, M.Div. joined our staff during the summer of 2014. A 2012 graduate of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, ordained by the Virginia Synod, ELCA, in 2012, and served his first call as co-pastor at the North Mountain Lutheran Parish in Toms Brook and Strasburg, Virginia, with his wife, the Rev. Deanna Boynton. His undergraduate degree in Business Administration is from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, with a concentration in Marketing Management. While at NC State he served as a youth director at the church he attended, and was active in Lutheran Campus Ministry.  Pastor Boynton also serves on the Executive Committee and Synod Council for the Virginia Synod. 

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