Summary: ROGATION - Spring Farm Blessing - Some may think that it’s our efforts that produce growth, but the credit really belongs to God. Includes three jokes related to farming!
Gospel text of your choosing
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father,and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ. Amen
One spring, a farmer purchased an old, run-down, abandoned farm. The fields were grown over with weeds, the farmhouse was falling apart, and the fences were collapsing all around. He planned to turn the place into a thriving enterprise.
The farmer invited his pastor to stop by on the first day to say a prayer for the farm. The pastor could see what a mess the place was, but blessed the farmer’s work, saying, “May you and God work together to make this the farm of your dreams!”
A few months later, the pastor stopped by again to call on the farmer. Lo and behold, it was like a completely different place— the farm house was completely rebuilt and in excellent condition, there were plenty of cattle and other livestock happily munching on feed in well-fenced pens, and the fields were filled with crops planted in neat rows.
“Amazing!” the pastor said. “Look what God and you have accomplished together!”
“Yes, Pastor,” said the farmer, “but remember what the farm was like when God was working it alone!”
Well, that’s one perspective on the roles of God and the farmer. Here’s another:
A few years ago, a study was done by an agricultural school in Iowa. It was reported that production of a hundred bushels of corn from one acre of land required all this:
~ 4 million pounds of water
~ 6,800 pounds of oxygen
~ 5,200 pounds of carbon
~ 160 pounds of nitrogen
~ 125 pounds of potassium
and ~ 75 pounds of yellow sulfur
~ plus the seed.
In addition to these ingredients, rain and sunshine are required at the right times. So although many hours of labor from the farmer were required, the study found that only 5% of the produce could be attributed to the efforts of the farmer. So, out of 100 bushels of corn, only 5 bushels of the crop were due to the work of the farmer.
Of course, neither of those stories tell the whole story. In the years that I’ve lived in rural Minnesota, I’ve met farmers who raise many different kinds of crops and livestock. But no matter what farmers raise, most farmers understand that their success— year-in and year-out— isn’t just about what they do, or even what happens in the economy. It’s about what God does.
No matter how many hours farmers put into their work, no matter what seed or fertilizers or herbicides you use, no matter what equipment you may have, in the end, that isn’t what’s most important to producing a good crop. What’s most important is God:
God whose word created the air, water, soil, and sun.
God who engineered seeds to sprout and animals to reproduce.
God who called us to care for this world.
God who still works to create justice for all people,including justice for our farmers.
Does it make any difference which field you’re farming? Farmers tell me that it does make a difference. Different fields drain differently, or need different fertilizers, or should be planted a different way.
Does it make any different who the farmer is? Different farmers use different methods and materials. There are different philosophies about how to best care for the land, and how to get the best yield for the least investment.
Does it make any difference whether we place our trust in God, whether we pray for God’s blessings on the land, the rain, the seed, the livestock, the farmer, the economy?
God will work to bring growth whether or not we pray. But praying can help us see what God is doing.
Our scripture readings today all point to what God is doing:
- sending showers of blessing
- covering the pastures to make rich grazing
- hills and valleys covered with crops
- forgiving sins and giving us hope
All these passages point to God as the one who provides for us.
In our Second Lesson, the Apostle Paul points to God’s reality. We may plant and water, but it is God who gives the growth.
And that’s true with farming. Science may understand better how plants grow than we did when the Bible was written several millennia ago. We may know more about how to increase the growth. But people of faith still recognize that God is at the root of it all.
A story is told about some scientists who decided that people no longer needed God. So they walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just get lost.”