By Ven. Graham Bland
Part of my dismay about our Church’s preoccupation with its own demise is that sometimes it feels we have forgotten that Resurrection is our reason for being.
I served 10 years in a Palliative Care setting. Death was a daily occurrence. Had we not carried within us the profound hope, nay certainty, that the mystery of new life could sprout afresh even in the midst of death, it would have been unbearable.
It is unbearable for many to serve a Church that has lost its perspective and hope in the face of death. So, how can we restore our lost perspective and hope?
A long time ago, I was privileged to visit Masada, in Israel. The guide told us they had found 2000-year-old seeds in a granary there. When they planted them, they germinated.
Seeds are amazing! The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, in Norway, stores thousands of seed samples against the possible extinctions of those plant species.
Can we imagine our churches as ‘flowering plants’ scattering ‘seeds’ in their neighbourhoods that may be ready to be watered and grow into new church plants? Are you (or your friends and family) former members of a church that died? Are you yourselves ‘seeds’ from it that might grow into a new plant?
This is not only about churches that have died. All living churches are seed-bearing plants that will likely one day die, but while they live, they do not live to themselves. One church (Life on the Vine) in Chicago talks about churches as greenhouses, with all the possibilities of greenhouses, not least, nurturing new plants.
While we live, both as individuals and as churches, we flower and produce seeds that want to germinate and grow to become the next generation, and the new Church. Nature is like that.
Recently, I was privileged to spend time with Bishop Marinez of Amazonia while she was in London for Bishop Todd’s consecration. The Diocese of Amazonia is so inspiring! Bishop Marinez spoke about two new ‘church plants’ there… One is in Manaus, 800 miles from Belém by air, 1000 miles by river. Another is in Castanhal, just 50 miles from Belém. Manaus and Castanhal both had Anglican communities in the past. They died. Now, new plants are growing where the old ones once flourished.
The vision of our companions in Amazonia is inspiring – they plant new churches wherever there are ‘seeds’ that hold promise. Can we in Huron learn from this?
This is a Stewardship article. Stewardship is about much more than money. Money is just stored energy. Seeds are much more than stored energy; they also store history and DNA, character and beauty. Seeds are dead, but they hold the promise of new life. Let’s get planting, to the glory of God who gives the growth!
Ven. Graham Bland is the chair of the Diocesan Stewardship Committee.
(Featured photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash)