“A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he went out to sow his seed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As Jesus said this, he called out, “let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
This past Wednesday, July 11th was the twenty year anniversary of my ordination into Christian ministry in the United Church of Christ. I can still remember standing in the very warm sanctuary of First UCC, Sandusky, OH, the church where I’d grown up, making promises to be faithful in my ministry. In the Ordination Service, I answered each question of commitment asked by the Association Minister, with the words, “I will, relying on God’s grace.” I want to share with you today that, in my looking back over my years of serving as pastor of four churches and doing other types of ministry, God’s grace has always been sufficient.
I didn’t know what the future would bring when I stepped out in faith and began seminary at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio when I was fifty years old. I only felt strongly that I was called to do so. Ministry is my third career. I began my work life as a high school English teacher. After teaching for a short time, I found a second career that I loved as a Licensed Social Worker in Children’s Services agencies. I worked in four different public agencies with dependent children for over nineteen years, the last seven placing special needs children and sibling groups for adoption.
In my personal life, I was a divorced, single parent, raising three children. I also was dealing with my mother’s dementia. It was not really a good time to be making a major career change, to say the least! But God had plans for me and made a way for doors to open that led to my graduation from seminary in 1998 and a call to pastor Zion UCC, Fireside, Bellevue, OH, where I had been Student Pastor for three years.
The Luke passage above is the text that was preached during my ordination service. Jesus explains in following verses that “the seed” is the word of God. We are each “the sower” the one who like the ancient caster of seeds of grain spreads God’s word in the world. We aren’t responsible for what happens afterward; we’re only responsible for our part—putting God’s word out there. That word/seed can be not only spoken but preached with the actions of our lives.
And so at the beginning of our ministry together, I invite each of you to be a faithful sower, trusting in God’s grace to support you. Who knows what surprising and abundant results may come!
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ