Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Surprising gifts

I am am member of First Congregational United Church of Christ. If you live in Madison, that's the big church next to Camp Randall Stadium.

On Nov. 10, our minister, Eldonna Hazen, opened her sermon with a lovely garden analogy that I was so moved by, I asked her if I could share it on my blog.

The overall theme is about recognizing, and sharing our gifts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

If you look at the cover of the bulletin today, you will see plants growing from pots.  Each of these seeds has been planted deep in the soil and surprisingly pushed its way through soil to grow.  Some of the seeds we plant gift us with food, some gift us with beauty.  Some of these seeds will surprise us in ways we hadn’t ever imagined.  They may produce the biggest watermelon or carrots or potatoes we have ever seen.  Some of the seeds may produce the smallest onions or tomatoes.  Some of the seeds may even surprise us by being something other than what we thought we were planting.  “I could have sworn I planted red roses, why are they yellow?”  Or maybe we were sure we planted broccoli and we got cauliflower.  Seeds have a very interesting way to surprise us.  We plant them deep in dirt, we water and weed, but we don’t really know what we have until it pushes through the soil and surprises us.  And in my case, who cares what was planted, I’m just excited and surprised when something I planted actually grows out of the ground.  These are surprising gifts.  Gifts that will now bless us with a bounty we hadn’t imagined or envisioned, but are ours to share.  I will admit, to the avid gardener these surprising gifts could carry some frustration.  But ultimately, I’ll bet every gardener would find use for the bounty that has blessed their garden.
We certainly don’t have to look too far in the First Congregational garden to find many gifts.  Over the last months people have shared “Because of your generosity” moments.  People have reminded us of the many ways this congregation touches and is touched by generosity.  First Congregational is able to change lives because we are willing to use the gifts each of us knows that we have within us.  But what about the surprising gifts?  We all think we know our gifts pretty well.  What if we took the time to re-evaluate our gifts?  What if we were surprised by what we had to give?  Then, what if we surprised others with our gifts, so they too, could benefit from our gifts?