Comment From Ken: This is a long scripture reading but it clearly shows Jesus’ faith, love, and understanding of nature and farming.
Scripture Matthew 13: 1-9; 18-23
1On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
18“Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
It’s a very warm day for a walk today, but I am so pleased you could join me. How fortunate I am to be back in the country again. I have loved the other places I have lived, but living now in Hopkinton, New Hampshire brings back my memories of the farm in Barrington, New Hampshire.
Yesterday, a storm hit that area, and the television showed picture of the trees down in the French Road crossing in Madbury. That is where my friends Farmer Fred and Arlene lived. There were tamarack trees near their farm and that is why they named their farm Tamarack Farm. I wonder if any of those tamarack trees blew down in the storm yesterday.
Are you familiar with tamarack trees? There was a whole grove of tamarack trees between the upper and lower meadow at the farm. The needles of a tamarack tree are wonderfully soft. They are unlike their pine tree cousins with stiffer long needles. If you were going to make a bed to sleep on in the woods, the tamarack would be the best possible soft mattress. Another thing about tamarack trees is that their needles turn yellow in the autumn and fall to earth.
If you stood at the farm door and looked down into the meadow, you would see the tamaracks blow in a storm wind from the west. But on a moonlit night, they were the most beautiful for they looked like spires of a mystical castle. The mist would creep into the meadows, and the meadows would look like a lake. Arising from the gray wispy mist would be the towering tamaracks.
Years ago, the roots of a tamarack were used in shipbuilding. The roots grow off the trunk at a right angle. This angle was perfect in constructing the hull of a sailing ship.
It was marshy down by that grove of trees, and you would get wet if you tromped near them. Not far away was a deep stoned-up spring. It was probably eight or ten feet in diameter. Years ago when there were cows at Greenhill Farm, the milk would be stored there until it was taken to market. The temperature of the water in that spring varied little from mid-fifty degrees. Now this was a long time ago that I visited that very spot, so my memory may fail me with exact temperatures of the water, but it was always cold. Where the water flowed out of that spring, there were watercress plants. My dad always thought you might be able to grow that watercress as an income for the farm.
Not far behind the tamaracks there was supposedly a spring called, “the mineral spring.” My dad decided one day that he would show his sons that spring. One very hot day we followed him down to the last meadow and searched for the spring in waist high grass and bushes. We looked and walked and searched until all of us were profusely perspiring, and we never found the spring. We teased my dad about that year after year. He claimed it was a mineral spring probably because a hay rake or some iron utensil fell through the thick sod that covered a watery swamp. He claimed when they would mow the meadow with a team of horses, the land would swell out from beneath their weight almost like a wave. Definitely when you walked on that third meadow, you could feel the softness of the land, and water would ooze up around your feet.
Early one spring, I drove my old 1934 Ford down in that meadow, and it became mired down in the mud. No way could I drive my automobile out of that meadow! After my dad came down with planks and a jack, we were able to extricate that “rattle trap”. How dare I use the word “rattle trap”? Why I have not thought of that term for an old automobile for many years. As we drove back up to the farm in that jalopy, my father made one of his famous type comments, “The horses had more sense than you; they never would have gone down into that meadow in the springtime.”
Always when with my dad, you were on an adventure of learning and wisdom. He knew so much about the beautiful world surrounding life on a farm. He could take a little leaf from a weed in the meadow and blow it up like a little balloon. He would grab a twig and tell you to chew it, and it would taste like birch beer. Another time he would pass you a twig or a leaf, and it would taste of wintergreen. He knew where the lily of the valleys grew, or where you would find a mass of lady slippers. In April or early May, he would show you the hidden mayflowers which smell more sweetly to me than any other flower. I wish you could have been with me on one of those walks with my father. When I think back on them, I think something my dad would never agree with. Walking with him was like walking with our savior Jesus.
The reason I say that is because my dad loved and told stories. Jesus loved stories, and he told them all the time so that his teachings would be remembered. Jesus passed down the beliefs of his faith to others all around him just as my dad passed down stories to his family of the love of Jesus.
Like my father, Jesus was also so very close to the world of nature. He knew the flowers of the field and the birds of the air; he knew about the world of farming and of shepherding. He was aware of how seed could be nourished or how it could die if the land was not fertile. He saw God’s hand in nature, and he brought knowledge of God’s love and His creative ability. I learned so much about my faith and Jesus from my life as a young man on the farm.
Look closely at a flower and as Jesus did, you, too, will see the power and love of the Heavenly Father.
This summer, take some time to look at God’s wondrous world. For a time, forget all the stress and clamor of the world and see the peace and beauty that surrounds you. Take a walk in the country this week. I am planning on it. Maybe this week, I will see the bear that they said walked through our neighborhood a few days ago. Maybe this coming week, I will walk in an orchard and see how the apples and peaches are progressing. As there was not a late frost this year, we should have some wonderful peaches. I love fresh peaches, don’t you?
Think of Jesus and the wonderful person He was and is. Walk with Him each day and see the power He brings to us from His Father. Rejoice that you are a Christian and have the love of His Son. Walk with Him in the world of trees and flowers, animals and birds, fish and sea creatures. Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian.
Dear God, our hearts are filled with gratitude for the wonderful creative world in which we live. Help us to see Your wondrous hand and love all around us. Show us a tamarack tree, an apple-laden tree, a wandering deer, and may we know that You watch over us as You watch over your beautiful creation. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
“And may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”