Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Scripture
Mark 4:1-9

1Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3“Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” 9And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
Devotional
My husband was a music teacher at a public school with a program for children with autism. Many of these children did not speak and would not sing or dance the way other children would. Music is often a positive way to introduce language and motor skills for children, so he used what skills and tools he’d picked up from the speech language pathologists and occupational therapists and made them work in his music lessons. There were lots of clapping and patsching lessons. He taught many of the same rhyming songs he taught other children, though he was usually the only one singing.

For weeks, his classes were much the same - he would lead the lesson with very little obvious engagement from the children. He was not trained to teach children with autism specifically, so he just kept adapting and trying new approaches, hoping something would catch. He was often discouraged that there seemed no signs that his students were gaining much from his lessons.

At report card night that year, one of the parents of a student with autism approached him and told him what a difference music class made in her child’s life. He suppressed his shock and said he was glad to hear it. The parent went on to say that her child often sang the songs and clapped at dinner time and bedtime on the days they had music class. 

My husband never saw this behavior from his students in class, but it wasn’t because his lessons were not engaging or that the students weren’t paying attention. It was just that his students were processing the material when he was teaching. It was only later that they would be able to perform it themselves. No lesson was lost on them.

When I hear the parable of the sower, I think about how much work goes into sowing every seed. Sowing seeds on the path, on the rocky ground, among thorns, and in the good soil. Every kind of sowing takes effort, care, and patience. It would seem that only the good soil reaps any fruit, but that’s not entirely true.

The seed on the path was not wasted. The birds benefited. The soil on the rocks didn’t grow much, but if it had, would the rocks have become destabilized? Would they fall over? The seeds among the thorns did not sprout, but who wants weeds among their roses? None of the seed was “wasted.” It all had a purpose and it was all necessary. We are not always aware of the impact our efforts have.

It will be rare that you see the positive outcomes of loving your neighbor. You may never see the outcome of feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or caring for the sick. You may never know what good it does to share Good News. We do these things because every action, no matter how small, repairs a tear in the fabric of our world. Each repair adds up to more than we can know - and it is okay not to know.
Prayer
God, give us the faith of mustard seeds to know that the good we sow isn’t wasted in a world of woe. Enfuse energy into our lives for all the tasks that seem pointless or unappreciated and help us trust that even the smallest actions done with love impact the world. Amen.
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at: agape@westfieldpc.org.
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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