With spring having arrived, I’m trying to grow grass in bare spots in our lawn that were dug up by raccoons. It’s a challenge.
The bag of grass seed gives me four instructions. 1. Prepare your soil. Break up clods of dirt and level it out. 2. Fertilize the soil. 3. Plant the seeds. Spread them evenly. 3. Cover seeds lightly with ¼ inch of dirt. 4. Water often. Keep seed bed moist until germination. I would add a fifth, which is: 5. Wait, be patient. It can take 2 weeks for seeds to sprout. And if I want to really be conscientious I will follow further instructions. 6. Protect the new grass from being trampled. 7. Keep it watered. 8. Mow the lawn. 9. Fertilize. We could say that this whole process, apart from the actual seeding, is one of “nurturing” the new grass.
Gardeners and farmers know the importance of nurturing their crops. So do parents, when it comes to child-rearing. So do churches, when it comes to forming disciples of Jesus.
“Nurturing” will be the theme of our worship on Sunday, May 10. Nurturing was valued in both ancient Israel and the New Testament. The Apostle Paul, for instance, stresses the importance of growing up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
What does it mean for us to nurture persons in faith, and to be nurtured by our church? What are the forces in our culture that work against Christian nurture? How have we been nurtured by others, by the church, and by God? What are the steps and methods we can take to nurture the seeds of faith not only among our children and youth but among adults as well?
Like trying to get grass to grow, nurturing persons in faith does not just happen. It requires careful attention. After all, our culture is always nurturing us in its ways, whether we know it or not. And those ways may be quite at odds with our faith.