Devotion on Matthew 9:35-10:8
Diane Jones, guest speaker
The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, Ohio
June 14, 2020
As many of you may know, I am a city girl. Yes, I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, so I do not know much about farming. In fact, my children tease me about how I once killed a cactus houseplant because I forgot to water it. I do not particularly like to get my hands dirty and dig in the soil to plant impatiens in our yard. But, nevertheless, every spring, I buy a flat of impatiens to plant around my light pole and six small starters of various herbs to transplant in six separate hanging baskets along our picket fence. This year, I planted white impatiens in our yard and in my herb garden, I planted parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, and basil. Speaking of my basil, it’s rather droopy, even though, I was told, “It will just perk up when you water it.” I marvel at the wisdom of expert gardeners and farmers. Perhaps I would be more successful if I read more books about gardening, took a sample of our soil to be tested at The Extension Office, or sought the expertise of a local Master Gardener. With all this talk about planting, I was even more amazed at how much I did not know about agriculture when I read Beth Moore’s recent book, Chasing Vines: Finding Your Way to an Immensely Fruitful Life. This was the selection for our church’s recent book discussion.
A little over a month ago, during Ohio’s stay-at-home-order, Pastor Karen put out an email asking if there would be any interest in “gathering” once a week, to discuss Beth Moore’s recent book. Of course, this would not be like our last, in-person book discussion in the Church Parlor. Instead, this would be done virtually, through the technological forum called Zoom. Interest was expressed; we ordered our books, and shortly thereafter, our book discussion began. Every Thursday afternoon, our group of 9 women logged onto our personal, home computers and “Zoomed” into our gathering. Here we were, looking at our monitors, and seeing each other in a Tic-Tac Toe, Brady Bunch style. Picture the layout of the 60s’ TV game show, Hollywood Squares: a 3 x 3 vertical stack of open-faced cubes. In this configuration, we could share our thoughts about the chapters we had read, prompted by questions in the Group Experience Study Guide. We discussed scriptures and Biblical commentary, talked about some of our own experiences, and watched a Vimeo recording in each session, led by Beth Moore, herself. And along the way, we learned about the complicated process of growing grapes: finding the proper soil, planting, pruning, securing the supports, tending the vines; grafting, . . . etc. Before we began our study, Pastor Karen had asked if anyone would like to volunteer to lead a week’s discussion, and my turn came at the conclusion of our six-week study. My Session was titled, “The Harvest.”
In this session about the harvest, Beth Moore writes, “After the laboring, rock clearing, hoeing, weeding, waiting, growing, staking, guarding, pruning, weather watching, and clock watching, the time has finally come for grape picking.” The harvest has finally come! And the harvest provides a reason to be joyful and to celebrate. The field hands fill the rows for the ingathering; the less fortunate come along the perimeters to glean what was left behind, and the feasting begins.
We read in today’s Psalm,
“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Psalm 100:2). “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through the generations” (Psalm 100:5).
God has provided us with many blessings, and for this, and so much more, we are to be thankful and joyful. Harvesting, though it takes effort, should not be dreaded. Gathering the abundant fruit of the field should be a joyful process.
And now, this brings us to today’s New Testament Lesson: In the Book of Matthew, Chapter 9, verses 35-37, we read:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus then called his twelve disciples to him and gave them these instructions: go into the towns and villages, preach the message and perform miracles of healing. They would be the harvesters, gathering more believers in Christ. Moreover, in other scriptures, we learn this harvesting is not to be limited to only the original 12 disciples, whom Jesus first sent. It is our privilege, as Christians, to go out, tend the “fields,” and harvest a “crop” of followers of Christ. How can we spread the good news? How we live, the choices we make, the examples we set of loving service, and the words we share, are some of the ways we can bear witness to the love of God, the Father, the sacrifice of Christ, His Son, and the bountiful gift of The Holy Spirit. We are called to gather a harvest of souls, as we spread the good news of the saving grace of Christ, with the hope, peace, love, and joy available to all who believe, for now and forever.
Thanks be to God.