Yesterday I visited a church I’ve driven by a thousand times, but never went in. The Westport Federated Church. The pastor, Leon Hebrink, is a friend on Facebook whom I’d never met in person.
I was nervous about going into a new church and meeting a new friend. I don’t know if regular churchgoers realize how much courage it takes to venture into an unknown church.
Since starting this project a week ago, I’ve gotten used to having the sanctuaries nearly all to myself — having time to think my own thoughts, my peace and my quiet. I have been able to avoid the whole church scene — of feeling I must respond a certain way at a certain time and have someone telling me what to think or what to believe or how to act. (I wonder if I have a problem with authority.)
Leon’s sermon was about that — about the seeds of love God throws. The seeds of love and faith will keep being thrown, it doesn’t matter if you miss them. It doesn’t matter if you have a problem with God’s authority. If they fall on stone or on dry land.
He was good with the metaphor. Leon explained that the seeds in his top desk drawer will go to the mice unless he plants them. He offered people who are not gardeners another metaphor. If you have books in your bookshelf for show, and you don’t read them, they’re just gathering dust.
After worship I told Charlotte about this part of the sermon, she said, “Like your Encyclopedia Britannica?”
“Exactly! Those are the same books I was thinking about! No one ever reads those!” I should give them away. During service I thought about decluttering my bedroom shelves. I often think about decluttering when I can’t do it. Then when I can do it, I prefer to goof off on the internet.
The sermon was awesome. Leon slipped in some social justice issues too, about the seeds NOT being like the Monsanto seeds sent to Haiti, which will not reproduce but force an unnatural corporate dependence. I was like, “That’s right, brother!”
Leon was younger than I thought he’d be from his Facebook profile.
I felt I knew Leon pretty well from Facebook and from the sermon and on my way out, I struck up a deep conversation.
“I get that whole thing about Christianity is a decision. And people think you’re a Christian, just because you’re born that way and is that good enough? But another problem I have is with evangelism. That it goes against the Commandment to Honor Thy Father and Mother. Because if you are supposed to obey your parents and follow their ancestors’ faiths, then why should anyone seek to convert anyone? Or drag them away from obeying their parents. See what I mean? Becoming a Christian might mean disobeying your parents?”
Suddenly, I saw that look in his eyes. Like I was a crazy person and he had to shake a dozen hands and hug a dozen more folks behind me. Maybe, just maybe, not everyone wants to engage in a theological discussion as they file out of church. Some folks might want to go to breakfast. Not me. I was happy to be talking about God and church and faith I guess, happy to be chatting with someone who wasn’t related to me. I was nervous. I don’t know.
In any case, it was great to meet Leon and finally worship at the Federated church. I want to go again.
And, really, people, I’m not crazy!
Let me keep sowing those seeds.
Incidentally, I did try to go to church tonight. On my way home from Penn Station. (Lead me not into Penn Station, but deliver me…) I stopped at my beloved Rutgers on 73rd and Broadway, but it was locked. It was 9:15 pm, so I guess it’s no wonder.
2 thoughts on “Sowing Seeds”
You’re not crazy. The Hebrew Bible’s ten commandments (Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21), which include honoring your father and mother, arose from the Judaic tradition, which is not evangelical. Compare with Christianity’s “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)
Hey sister Coudal; just ran across this…cool blog. By the way you aren’t crazy, but your question did stand out from the usual “nice sermon, have a nice day” chit chat on the way out the door. I’d say Dan above hits the nail on the head. Jesus was constantly getting busted for breaking the rules, or at least a very rigid application of them. The religious Jews wanted to kill him all the more because in their view he broke the Sabbath; his own parents thought he was crazy and wanted to bind him and drag him home as he taught a gathering of people near their home, Etc.
What better way to honor your parents than to introduce them to life in Christ, help them to know the Prince of Peace? Even if a child accepts and follows Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, there are certainly honorable ways of doing that with regard to ones family. This was a conversation worthy of coffee or lunch, sorry it got cut short at the back door.