Pastor’s Pen September 6, 2017

” And Jesus told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow’…”

                                    Matthew 13:3

It was tempting to complain about the four and half hour flight delay. The attraction of being stranded in the Charleston airport grew thin right around midnight. It was tempting to complain about the inconvenience and the coming sleepless night, until overhearing the plight of the woman ahead of me who would miss her flight to Kiev and spend the following twelve hours stuck in a New York airport overnight.

It was tempting to complain about missing the last bus home from Boston. Until I remembered the unrelenting suffering of so many thousands as one hurricane landed on our southern shore, with another on its way. Charleston and the rest of the southeastern seaboard braced for winds that could topple cranes and fling trees through homes like pick-up sticks.

It was tempting to complain about being tired for one day, until I got into a conversation with an airline attendant from Guam who shared how scared he felt every day for his family back home in light of ominous posturing from North Korea.

It was tempting to complain about anything at all when pacing the airport concourse I came across a simple wooden room with stained glass windows hanging from the ceiling. There a simple glass case held a red leather Bible embossed with its home, The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, South Carolina. Next to it an identical copy lay open to Jesus’ parable from Matthew 13: “A sower went out to sow”.

One early summer’s evening women and men gathered to discuss and pray for understanding of this text at their usual Wednesday night Bible study. The nine who were killed by a gunman, in whom the seeds planted by the sower had not taken root, did not make it home that night to their families, or ever, at all.

All complaint dissolved in tears of lament for the good seed God plants with such reckless abandon and adoring hope in every human heart. How heartbreaking it must be for God, knowing that some good seed will no doubt choke to death on the thorns of hate. Others will be gobbled up by every countless and careless worldly concern.

And yet, like the haunting sound of church hymns breaking through the discontent of road weary travelers, God’s good news breaks forth in the middle of every stranded night. Just when the dawning seems impossibly far from sight, we stumble upon unexpected hope.

The airport CEO said: This is “the airport's representation of the values of forgiveness and grace that the families and survivors brought to Charleston and the nation in the aftermath of the tragedy:" a sure sign of God’s good seeds of love, unity and hope, planted in good soil and flourishing.

Prayer: Thank you God, that in your mercy you plant seeds of hope in even the most shadowed corner of the garden. Grant us the grace to anticipate your surprising fruit, ripening good news to feed your hungering world. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland