Thoughts from the Pastor...

by Pastor Jeffrey M. Halenza

         A teacher of mine in divinity school once said something that has stayed with me ever since. What he said was this:  “To believe in God is to be able to conceive of the whole of life as a time of sowing, and reaping is left to others and even eternity and God.”  He went on to say that we are to live not for the harvest but the quality of sowing.

          It’s a striking thing to say.  And it certainly is a way of approaching life that is very different than the way we usually approach life. It’s a stunning way to see things.

          Of course in our culture the harvest, reaping, is everything. Results, profits, personal gains, rewards, recognition are what matters.  It’s the way many people approach their work, their relationships, even their children.  Everything should produce something -- now.  So people approach work in terms of money, success, getting certain gains or benefits for themselves.  “What’s in it for me?”, people will ask.  And parents often view their children in terms of results: grades, honors, athletic success, job and so on.

          We even come to approach religion on this basis.  Prayer, many believe, should give answers, produce results.  Worship, many expect, should give concrete benefits or at least provide a little entertainment.  Having faith, many think, should make us and those we love immune from illness and trouble.  Belief, more than a few would say, should produce material benefits -- help us get the promotion, the house, the car.  And going to church, many maintain, should lead to happy families.  And churches themselves, many believe, should see big results, big numbers, from what they do.  For many, religion should produce results, give them what they want -- God should be a God who does things for them.

          Now results are important; there’s no denying that.  Harvesting is critical not only for farmers but for all of us in many areas of our lives.  But the life of faith and the life of the church is to be lived on a very different basis.  We are to live for the quality of the sowing.  It’s what faith is about.

          The truth is that many of the greatest figures of faith in the Bible never received what was promised, yet they continued to trust and to follow.  And they continued to sow the seed of God’s love and hope and joy in this world, not knowing what, if any, harvest it produced.  They lived for the quality of the sowing and trusted the harvest to God.

         And you and I?  What difference would it make in our lives if we put the emphasis not on reaping but sowing?  What difference would it make if we worshipped God for God’s sake and not simply for the sake of what we can get out of it?  And if the purpose of our prayers were to become closer to God rather than present a list of expected results?  And if we served others out of love for God and did not expect reward or even thanks?  And if as a church we put our effort into doing the highest quality sowing and not always worry about numbers.  And what difference would it make if we approached our work and relationships and families in terms of the quality of what we could give to them?

         If ever we could learn to trust the harvest to God and concentrate on the quality of sowing, it would make a tremendous difference.  The strange thing is that the very peace and joy we seek would come.  To live for God, for love’s sake, and do the best we have it in us to do to sow life and hope in this world, is what gives true peace and joy.

                                                                                                                                                            God be with you,