I was in conversation last night with a group of people when the topic came around to fruit and other crops. We were eating grapes and cherries among other things. We noted what a poor showing the forsythia made this year – a big disappointment to some of us who wait all year for their brilliance. It was the same for apple blossoms and other fruit trees although some showed beautiful flowers. Someone wondered about orchards in upstate New York and what the apple harvest would be like this year…
This morning’s gospel has Jesus continuing to address the crowds and being moved to pity for them as they seem to him “like sheep without a shepherd. He says to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (MT 9:38) In my Church a familiar topic is the dearth of priests to serve the parishes. Some people also lament the drop in church attendance. I know these are both valid concerns and I encourage prayer for vocations to the priesthood and ways to build up parish community. I believe, you see, that the harvest is indeed great. I see a shift in focus, however, and The Sophia Center for Spirituality is a part of that shift. People seem to be longing for some opportunities to deepen their personal spirituality and to connect with others who are searching for the same. There are many church communities that are vibrant, doing a good job with incorporating different spiritual practices and outreach to their ritual and relationships. Communities of disciples are flourishing. But there are also places where the flowering of community has diminished over some years and especially concerning is the lack of presence of young people in their midst. Brave congregations face the “why” question head on and shift to meet the needs of a totally different population from the one that existed “when we were young.” Letting go of how “we’ve always done it” allows for creativity and welcome to young and old – and all of us in between.
Today is a good day, I think, to examine what are the “sacred cows” in my life and how willing I am to give them over to an expanded consciousness of who are the -perhaps unlikely – shepherds who are willing to put themselves at the service of a greater harvest. The next question is where and how to search for the deeper life that might ignite a renewal of spirit in our churches that are struggling. It’s all out there – just as it was in the time of Jesus. We have only to pray to the Master of the harvest and then start digging!