Pew Sermon for Sunday 7th August

Hello everyone and thank goodness for the slightly cooler weather.

I’ve had a request not to go on and on about cars, so I was searching for a subject which many of you know a lot about, and about which I know, nothing and can therefore appear foolish! There are plenty, but the obvious choice to me seems to be gardening.

Over the years I’ve formed the impression that it’s not actually that difficult to look foolish about plants and gardening. For example, you would think an annual would come up every year, but this idea is laughed to scorn by at least half the congregation who know something about plants. Apparently, that’s a perennial. I think. Which sounds like a nasty medical condition to me. I’m really going to have to brush up on my Latin or something to get much further with this…

During lockdown I bought a plant propagator which you plug-in, water your little hidden seeds, put the lid on, let it steam up, and hope that nature will take its course.

Which I did.

After about three weeks of nothing, some weedy little shoots came up, and then dramatically shrivelled and died, in the cold light of morning.

So frankly, I gave up on the whole business as a bad job.

But as is so often the case, failure does irk, and niggle at one, so after a marriage service at the weekend, I popped into your local garden centre for some advice.

It’s hard to explain to the garden centre assistant that one is a complete numpty on the subject, who doesn’t know his geraniums from his gerbils, but I finally did get through to the kind and helpful assistant that I really do know absolutely nothing.

‘What about the seed propagator I bought?’ I said. ‘Can you give me an idiot’s guide to trying again?’. So, he said yes, first of all do you need some seeding compost. 

So out we go, round the back, to get a great big sack of the stuff, when really I only want a tiny little bit, but it does not come in tiny bits…

Then, he says, you need to spread this stuff over the top of your seeds, starts with v, can’t pronounce it the way he carefully did (several times) – it’s a sandy gritty stuff that sounds like thin Italian spaghetti. I said ok, well, if you only need a bit, I expect it comes in a little box like soap detergent? No, he say, that comes in a great big sack as well. (When’s the last time you bought soap detergent?! Says my wife, helpfully…)

Two sacks later, and now we’re looking at the seeds…

Hollyhocks are nice he says, but they remind me of my Mother ‘s greenhouse, which smelt of geraniums and cat wee. So, I said no thanks, and went for the foxgloves and grass seeds.

I quite wanted radishes. I’m very fond of radishes. In fact, I think radishes are my favourite food. But he said you don’t need a propagate them: you just plant them outside, and that sounded far too difficult for me, so I gave up that idea as a bad job.

And so here I am at home, staring at two big side sacks of stuff and some seeds.

And I’m wondering to myself if there isn’t a parallel here with the Gospel.

You can’t just buy it off the shelf, you really do have to do some work, and tend your Gospel seedlings in your heart with some TLC, before faith actually grows. Planting out in the garden really does sound like chapter two to me, but the parallel there might be sharing your faith with others – by kindness, by acts of love, maybe just with a kind word.

I wonder if I am a bit like those Sunday cyclists that we see on our roads, with their lycra, and razor thin tyres, and calves made of steel wire, and water bottles and double cruising, and all having a good time on a Sunday morning when I’m trying to get past them to church. The cyclists have a name for it: an AGNI (all the gear, no idea). I guess that’s me and gardening.

More news soon on the whole seedlings front. In the meantime, may God give us grace to apply ourselves to the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that our tiny seeds of faith may colourfully grow both in us, and in the lives of those we love. 

See you soon!