May 23-29, 2005
Come, Holy rain
Rural central Pennsylvania, where I live, had
been dry for many weeks before last Thursday, when the heavens opened up for a
nice two-day soaking.
The dryness had been worrying the farmers.
They kicked up dust clouds as their tractors worked their parched fields. Day
after day the dry, the tilled fields remained arid and brown, reminiscent of
those photos sent back from Mars. The seeds lay in the ground suspended in
limbo between life and death.
But a strange and wonderful thing happened when it
rained. Overnight, the fields sprouted distinct, fragile rows of green. As
each day passed, the seedlings gained inches of height and seemed to soar
heavenward. It all happened astonishingly quickly, as if the seeds were
crouching in the ground just waiting for moisture to spring to life and sprint
toward the sky.
That is how our souls experience growth in God. In
the dry times of our souls -- brought by sorrow, by busy-ness, by death, by
illness, by divorce, by selfish turning from God -- in dry times we are
somewhere between death and life as we yearn for the Holy Spirit's fertile,
moist touch to revive us, refresh us, to bring us to life, to growth, to
health, to shalom. Sometimes when we are dry in our souls, we only then
understand how much we need God, and so turn our prayers, our faces and our
lives back toward the Holy.
Churches experiencing stagnation can also
learn from this model. Pastors and congregational leaders who notice that
giving and attendance have declined can take comfort knowing their
congregation is merely in a dry place, awaiting the reviving presence of the
Holy Spirit. And they can begin to expect the Holy Spirit to work among them,
to show them new possibilities and insights.
Maybe the pastor will begin a new sermon series.
Maybe members will open their Bibles and learn to tithe. Maybe the Christian
education committee will start a new class, a new curriculum. Maybe new people
But the rain will come, the growth will come. Just
as the seeds cannot help but burst forth in life, for that is what they were
created to do, so our souls and our churches cannot help but bloom with life
in God's spirit, because that's what we were created to do.
-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
New this week!
'Recycling Bin' is now the 'Treasure Chest'
the name of the Recycling Bin to the Treasure Chest of Resources? Why? Yes, we
ARE recycling the resources to the home page, but Recycling Bin makes the them
sound like trash. In fact, they are treasures -- the best this website has to
Click Here for the
Treasure Chest of Resources.
risky, right choices
When four young women from
out-of-state show up at her church, our columnist learns a powerful message
about how hard it is to live the words of Jesus in Matthew 25, "We make choices
knowing that there is right and wrong in all of it in life and we just pray that
God can make the best even of our bad choices."
Click here for the Rev.
Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.
this great stewardship website from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.
Stewardship for the 21st Century contains hundreds of resources, including Bible
studies, sermons, essays, articles, etc. Its two stated purposes are to help
free people from the "myth of scarcity to live an abundant life in Christ," and
to encourage people to become "confident, courageous stewardship leaders." Wow!
Click here for
Stewardship for the 21st Century. Be sure to sign up for its free weekly
Fifteen-plus environmental action ideas
Environmental stewardship can become an integral
part of your congregation's life and education program. How? This resource lists
practical, easy-to-implement ideas.
Click here for
Fifteen-plus environmental action ideas. From the
Environmental Network, whose website has lots
of good stuff.
exercise in growth
"There are a thousand ways to grow and a thousand ways to
help that growth, but you won't get off square one until you sit down and
understand needs to target as some initial goals." Great reading in an essay
packed with practical tips for a congregation.
piece by Tuck Aaker, columnist for