Children’s Chat: Nurturing love takes work!

The only one that made it from seed (photo by Martin Malina 13 May 2023

Years ago, my daughter received a package of ten seeds — ten spruce tree seeds.

So, we found a large pot, filled it with good soil and planted the seeds evenly apart in the pot. We followed the instructions on how to care for growing these seeds. We watered the earth. We left the pot in the sun.

But later that year, we noticed only three seedlings coming out of the earth. Only three of the ten seeds sprouted and began to grow.

The following year, I transplanted the three saplings into separate pots so each would have its own space to grow. But, alas, over several days we left them in direct sunlight outside for too long! Two of the three saplings turned brown and died.

Only one of the ten seeds that we had originally planted, made it. Today, it is about three feet tall and growing well in our backyard (photo above). It has a good chance of maturing even though I still give it extra water from time to time.

Today is Mother’s Day. Specifically, though we give thanks for our mothers we also express thanks for all the caregivers in our lives who love us and nurture our growth. Growing flower or tree seeds can remind us that nurturing love takes a lot of work!

Nurturing love is NOT planting a seed and just leaving it alone. Nurturing love, which is God’s love, means hard work and trusting that the seed of faith within in us all will grow.

My daughter and I, admittedly, were a bit lazy at times growing and caring for those ten seeds. Sometimes we didn’t do it the right way. We made some mistakes along the way.

But I am grateful that every time I can look at that one spruce tree that did make it I am reminded of both the hard work it takes to grow seeds to life, and the gift of life and love that God gives.

Here are some packages of flower seeds. You can give them to your moms or other caregivers. Help them plant the seeds this Spring. Take care of them. And watch them grow!

Let us pray: Dear God, thank you for the gifts of love and life. Help the seeds of love and life grow in me. Help us all learn to trust in those gifts to do their job in time. Amen.

Pumpkins and God – a children’s sermon

This weekend is thanksgiving. And we’re seeing a lot of pumpkins around these days. You also may be collecting pumpkins to carve out jack-o-lanterns for later this month on Hallowed Eve.

I want to show you how you can think about God when you see and work with pumpkins at this time of year. How God relates to us, what God thinks of us, and how God lives in us can all be told by a pumpkin.

First, where do pumpkins grow? In fields. But because they grow in different sizes and shapes, it’s hard to harvest them altogether. Before machines were used pumpkin farmers had to go into the field themselves to hand-pick the pumpkins.

God is like that with us. Because no two human beings are exactly alike—each of us is uniquely created, some large some small some young some old—God comes into our world in Jesus and picks us, for a special purpose.

Now, before we know the purpose God has for each of us, we must grow up a little bit and mature. What do you do with a pumpkin to get it ready for whatever reason you got in the first place? If you want to bake it or cook it, what do you have to do? If you want to carve a jack-o-lantern, what do you first have to do?

Yeah! You must get your hands in there and remove what’s inside. And what is inside a pumpkin? There are seeds. And there is all this stringy, yucky stuff that you want to throw out—it’s not good for much, I would think. But the seeds are good—for eating after you bake them, and for making more pumpkins if you plant them!

There’s good and there’s bad inside—all mixed together. It’s hard to separate the seeds from the stringy stuff perfectly. And it’s almost impossible to clean it out completely. In fact, I usually leave some of the mix of seeds and gunk inside.

As we grow up and older, we learn more about what’s inside of us. Some of it’s not good. Kind of like the yucky, stringy stuff in pumpkins, we just want to get rid of. When we say hurtful things to our friends, for example. What are some other things inside of us we don’t like very much? 

But there’s also a lot of good stuff inside, abilities and values and seeds for our own growth to do good in the world, like loving other people. What are other things inside of us we like, that are good?

Finally, if you are making a jack-o-lantern, what do you put inside after you’ve cleaned it out a bit? A candle, or flashlight. What is the point of the light? Well, it’s usually dark outside already when you want people to see your jack-o-lantern and whatever you’ve carved into the side of it.

God’s puts His Spirit and light inside of us. In fact, it was already there when you were born. It may be a small light. But we call it the light of Christ Jesus that shines in and through us. And the purpose we have is to let the light of God shine so that others will see it in our own lives. Maybe in this season of pumpkins you can think about how you want others to see the good that is in you?

Thank you, Jesus, for shining your light in my heart. Help me to let your light shine in the world today. Amen.