July 12, 2020

Pentecost 6, Proper 10, Year A
Deacon Cindy Roehl

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? How many remember that nursery rhyme as a child? And, if anyone were to answer that question asked of Mary, they would probably say, by planting seeds in good soil, making sure it gets good sunlight, water, air, allowing time and enough room. Room, not just for the plant to grow, but also for the roots to grow.

Plant Life 101 – What is the root of a plant? According to the roots of plants are their warehouses and serve three primary functions: they anchor the plant, absorb water and minerals for use by the plant and store food reserves. Plants and their roots are so intricately connected that no plant can survive without its root system for support and nutrition.

In our Gospel reading this morning Jesus uses a parable of seeds being scattered on the path or in shallow ground, and then says, “…but seed that is sown in GOOD soil can grow their roots deep into the ground and grow strong.” And he says, “…This refers to those who hear the word and understand, and bear fruit.” WE are the different types of soil represented. The SEED being planted is the Word of God. So, WE are encouraged to nurture the seed (the Word of God) in our lives, allowing it (the Word of God) to take root so it can grow strong IN us and bear fruit. Apparently, this is important.

I have an idea! How many of you have found yourself spending a LOT more time at home over the last few months? (Our world has been altered, hasn’t it?) As for myself, I do have a part-time job in the mornings at another church, then I go home. And of course, there is the time I spend here at Good Shepherd, then I go home. And basically, unless I stop to pick up a few items at the store, I’m home. Bob and I share a solitude we’ve not experienced before. In a lot of ways, it’s been good for us.

When speaking of solitude, we might not speak so much of solitude (singular) but of solitudes (plural), because there are different kinds of solitude, and different people experience them in different ways.

One way in which people speak of solitude is as ‘ME time’. This is a time to recharge our batteries and renew our energies. We all need to do this, and we all find different ways to do it. This experience of solitude, as an opportunity to recharge and renew, has been one of the graces of this season.

For others, and especially for those who live alone, this period of extended solitude has been a time, not of recharging and renewing, but of isolation and loneliness, when work and social routines have become virtual or remote, and physical connections limited to what can happen sitting six feet away from one another.

For some this time of solitude has been a time of grace – and for others, a time of challenge.

In the Christian spiritual tradition, there is another facet to solitude that is neither about solitude as ‘me time’, or as isolation. Br. James Koester of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, shares that “In the monastic tradition solitude is not about recharging our batteries or experiencing isolation, but enabling an encounter with the Divine.”

When monks spend time in their cell, which is a very small room and is the primary place of their personal prayer, Br. James says “it is a place of divine presence and companionship.  Like Jacob we say surely the Lord is in this place as we open ourselves up to an encounter with the living God, each time we enter our cells and shut the door.”

In the monastic tradition solitude enables them to encounter God “whose name is Love”. While we might experience our current time of solitude as both incredibly renewing and perhaps enormously lonely, we can also experience this solitude as an invitation to encounter the God who so LOVES the world.
How can we do this? There are several ways…

For the full sermon text, click HERE.

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