Seeds blow where they will...
Updated: Sep 3
Just as the prophetess Anna in Luke 2 was able to sense the zeitgeist, so one of the roles of an Anna Chaplain is to be an interpreter of the times.
Anna Chaplaincy lead for Wales, the Revd Sally Rees, has been assessing some of the hidden advantages of lockdown.
Inspired by a meditation from Eddie Askew's A Silence and a Shouting (The Leprosy Mission International, 2001) she writes:
Askew starts his meditation with an old ‘Arabic proverb that says, “I will set my face to the wind and scatter my handful of seeds on high”. Commenting on it, Mark Lind, a Jesuit, says, “My little contribution to life… is taken by the great wind of God and scattered where the wind wants to scatter it… We need not bother too much about that part. Seeds grow. But we must have the courage to keep ourselves facing the wind”.'
It occurred to me that there was a message in that for us today. We have all definitely been buffeted by a ‘windstorm’ called Covid-19, a storm that has been tragic for some, but for all of us, it has been a time when everything has changed and/or taken away, from shopping to going to church on a Sunday morning. This ‘storm’ has rocked our way of living and the way we relate and communicate with family, neighbours and friends.
Take heart: God is more powerful than the storm, and in the midst of it he is taking the ‘proverbial seeds’ of our experiences in lockdown and is planting them where he wants them to grow in his kingdom.
You might like to reflect on your own experiences of the last few months, but here is my observation on some of the seeds of God’s kingdom that are being sown as we face the storm of pandemic.
More dependence on God
For those who are lonely, sad and grieving – your tears will not go unnoticed. Psalm 56:8 says ‘You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book’ (NLT). However, from your sadness, perhaps there are seeds of more dependence on God and more knowledge of his presence and comfort at this time. I think that for many of us this has been a time when we have cried out to God in a way that when all is well, and we are all busy feeling self-sufficient, we have missed the opportunity to throw ourselves on him and his grace.
Deep compassion and caring
This time has sown seeds of deep compassion and caring for others in our church family and our community, from those who have helped others at the time of the flooding onwards – providing meals, doing shopping, collecting prescriptions, making phone calls, writing cards, making garden visits, to name some of the kindnesses shown.
In our Ministry Area, our collective worship each week has sown the seeds of belonging to a wider church membership than just our own congregation, and we have learnt new things about each other’s churches and ministries, and have got to know a few more faces of people who we will recognise when we are able to meet up. We have also got to know more of some people’s journey with God. Let’s pray that we will continue to grow together.
Good news for others, new gifts and talents discovered
Our online services have produced seeds of sharing the good news to those outside of our buildings and our usual congregations. With so much new technology to learn for online services, there are seeds of new gifts and talents being recognised that have not been recognised before. I have learnt to ‘Zoom’ – something unimaginable prior to this! And, I have written booklets for A Carer's Guide series on ‘How to’ help with different aspects of spiritual care, for, with the Anna Chaplaincy network and The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF). Having put my academic career behind me, I didn’t think I would enjoy writing again. Others have found gifts for sharing musical ability, for poetry, being presenters, and we have budding actors and actresses, and people with knowledge of puppet ministry. All of these are being used to tell the good news at this time.
Growing closer to God
For many of us this has been a time to let seeds of growing closer to God take hold: to read the Bible more, to engage with morning and evening prayer, to go deeper in prayer as individuals and as prayer groups; and to learn to trust God and his Son Jesus in these uncertain times.
Of course, we do not know where the wind will blow the seeds and where they will take hold to grow ‘large branches to shelter the birds’. However, let’s pray that God will plant ‘our seeds’ where he wants them to grow in his kingdom, and be willing to take his direction. He might take us personally, or as a church/ministry area, somewhere unexpected with new and unimaginable ministries that we could not have foreseen before lockdown.
(Sally's reflection appears in her Ministry Area Magazine – the first edition to be published since Easter because of the effects of Covid-19 – in the Swansea and Brecon Diocese of the Church in Wales, September 2020.)