Today is an exciting day. It is a historic day because it is a day of new beginnings and this is the new beginning of new life for these cathedral ministries. God is going to rebuild this church; of that I have no doubt.
We celebrate and we honor the creator of new beginnings and He has put new beginnings within each and every one of us. He’s put a new beginning in you, a new beginning in me and a new beginning in this ministry. And as many students and my beloved children from this school, many of them are facing commencement and we will be launching them and commissioning them out into the world. There are other schools all around that are doing commencements, and what they read at my commencement, when I got my master’s at Chapman, was this book by Dr. Seuss and it is a children’s book, yes, but it’s called “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” And it’s really a parable and it tells the story of a child who is encouraged by his mentor to go out and do great things with his life. But he’s warned by his mentor be careful because along the way you will find yourself in the slump place, you will find yourself in the scary place, and you will find yourself in that most dreaded of all places, the waiting place. But if you endure all of these, you will finally find yourself in that mountain moving place. And we as a ministry have endured this slump phase, we have endured the scary place, we have endured the waiting place and now we are at the mountain moving place, amen? Amen.
Well like the child in Dr. Seuss’ book, my parents encouraged me to go places in my life and sow. As only fourth grade, I had the dream to become a medical missionary doctor to Africa, and I worked toward that goal all the way up through college. But God slammed that door, and brought me here and I’ve been here ever since. That was in 1973.
Well it was just a few years ago when I was bringing my son Nicholas to school. My husband and I live six miles from here, in Orange, and we were halfway here and we had to take a detour because of road work, and I said hey Nick, this is right by my old childhood home. Do you want to swing by? And he says no mom, don’t you remember? How many times have you taken me past your childhood home. And it was only three miles from here, or three miles from my home, but Nick said you know mom I’m really struck by something. I’m very, very impressed with how far you’ve gone in your life. A whole three miles, mom. That’s really impressive how far you’ve gone in your life. And I stopped and I paused and I was like wow, wait a minute, hey, wait, I’m not feeling real encouraged here because I had planned to go to Africa and I made it only three miles. Not much to write home about. I don’t need to write home. I can walk home. But what I’ve learned is that it’s not where you go, the places you go, like Dr. Seuss says, but oh it’s the seeds you’ll sow. That where God has planted you, God has planted you for a purpose and for a reason, and while you’re there, as dad taught me, you are to bloom where you are planted. And what is a flower? Oh yes, a flower is beautiful and smells lovely, but the real true purpose of a flower is to produce seeds.
And so I feel like I’ve had to make sure that I have planted seeds through my life; the importance of seeds. I’ve learned that from my dad since I was a little girl but what he doesn’t know and I’m teaching him today is that seeds are meant to be disseminated. They are meant to be scattered far and wide. In fact, God created seeds as new beginnings, as new life, but did you know that each seed has built within it a travel mechanism. Now it varies. Some seeds are carried by wind and you know them, like a dandelion, it has those wonderful white things that they catch the wind and the breeze and they travel far. We have seeds in a tree in our yard that have, it looks like a little helicopter blade and you can see them twirl as they’re carried on the wind far and away.
Other seeds have little hooks in them or adhesive and you know what they are because you’ve had to pick them out of your socks if you’ve gone hiking or the bottom of your shoe, or maybe it’s been in your pets’ fur, but they are meant to grab onto something and be traveled and transported and scattered. Other seeds are hidden in delicious beautiful fruit that’s meant to be ingested and then those seeds travel wherever that animal travels and that’s where those seeds land up. And I can tell you that we have in our backyard last year somewhere, a fig tree seed blew into our yard and was planted and grew and we had all this fruit. It was messy. The birds would eat it and we would step on it and my husband chopped it down, but not soon enough because this year we have at least four if not five tiny baby fig trees growing in our yard from the seeds that have scattered, so he needs to get to work and get those cut down sooner this year.
I lived here, grew up here but I spent all my summers on the farm in Iowa with my mom and dad, their brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles. And their fields stretched for acres, acres. In fact the cornfields are so big they would say don’t go play in the corn fields because you could get lost and we’ll never find you. But I didn’t inherit this wonderful green thumb of my family. I have a black thumb. In fact I can hear and I’ve seen plants quiver when they see me coming their way. I can hear them say please don’t let her by me. She will take me home and she’ll kill me.
And so I’ve decided today I’m going to try a new technique. I have a big pile of soil here, I have a basket of seed and instead of just planting a few seeds, I think that maybe I’ll increase my chances of success if oh I just put more seed in there. What do you think? Am I doing okay? Going to get it all? Get it all, all that seed it’s all very important. All right. Actually, this is not going to work, is it? But the thing is it’s tempting to want to keep all our seed in one little bucket and not scatter it and not share it. That’s what we have a tendency to do. And my family is.. we are humans and we love each other and we well meaning, we thought that it would be wonderful if we could keep all of our seed in one bucket. And so we encouraged and we wanted my brother, we wanted my nephew to be here in our bucket with us. But sometimes God has a bigger plan and sometimes He wants to expand the kingdom and He can’t do that if we keep all the seed in one bucket. And so we have to be brave, we have to be courageous and we have to scatter the seed where God wants it sown, not where we want it sown.
Today, as my brother launches an amazing ministry, I am so excited for what God is going to do through him in that, and my nephew, what God is going to do through him, that I want to celebrate and I want to show you that we are committed to following God and obeying Him and scattering the seed. Dad, will you help me?Hold out your hand. Okay here we go. Okay, scatter. Only God knows where He wants us to sow His seed and we have to leave it up to Him. But what kind of seeds are you sowing? I don’t think you’d find my uncles planting bird seed, because that’s what this is, bird seed in their fields. They are planting very special hybridized corn or soy bean, in fact they set aside a portion of their money to make sure they buy the best seed possible, so what seed are we sowing?
Well here at Crystal Cathedral, it is our call; God has called us to sow a special seed. It is our unique call, our unique mission. He has entrusted to us this unique seed that we will plant and that is seeds of love, positive seeds of love, positive seeds of grace, positive seeds of faith teaching people that they can do it, that they can believe, that they can be all things that God wants them to be, positive seeds of hope. That is our call, those are the seeds that we have been called to plant here and to sow here at Crystal Cathedral. God needs us to be courageous and He needs us to go out there and He needs us to sow anyway, because if we resist from sowing, whose going to do it? What’s going to happen? We need to continue to sow and we learn in Matthew 13, in the parable of the sower, Jesus encourages us, He says sow.
Now know, know when you sow that some of the seed, in fact if you look at it just from an odds standpoint, one fourth, because there were four types of soil, one out of every four times you sow its going to land at the wayside. It’s not going to even make it to soil. The birds are going to come along and eat it. And one fourth of the time its going to land in shallow soil and those roots won’t even be able to go down enough and its going to scorched by the sun and that plant will die. Sometimes one fourth of the time you sow that seed and its going to land in soil where it grows but thorns and weeds will come and choke it out and it will bear no fruit.
When my dad talked up here a year ago and told everybody about the lemon meringue pies I made, I thought oh my goodness, I’ve got to make more pies, so on the way home, I stopped at the nursery, bought a lemon tree, planted it in the backyard but made the mistake of planting it way too close to the fence where there’s a sweet pea vine that grows, and I’m battling and I’m losing the battle to the sweet pea vine, because it sends out its little tendrils and it squeezes my tree and I can tell you its not bearing a whole lot of fruit yet. Move the tree, dad says. He’s a farmer, I’m not. But the point is, sometimes we don’t know, we do not know when we sow where it’s going to do wonders and where it’s going to make a difference. Sometimes you’ll be surprised. It is the last person in the world where you sow that seed where it will take root and bear fruit.
My mom and I went to a hair dresser and we sat in this guys, I won’t say his name, but the other guy next to us, we used to watch him do hair and mom used to say, his name was Charles, and mom would say there’s no hope for Charles. Charles lived a very wild life back then and she would say there’s no hope for Charles. Well, fortunately for Charles, God wasn’t depending on mom and I to do the sowing because there wouldn’t haven’t have been any seeds sowed. But in His infinite mercy, brought someone into Charles’ life, Charles became a Christian and he is the most fruitful Christian, one of the most fruitful Christians I know today, so do not, do not think you can tell by looking at somebody or talking to somebody that what kind of soil they are. Sow, sow, sow anyway and leave the results to God.
It is so easy to sow seeds. All you need is a smile, a hug, a prayer. My husband has had people in Starbuck’s share with him, strangers, and he has said can I pray for you? Yes! That person says. You never know. And so I just ask you, we need you today, we will be asking you to make a commitment to sow seeds because if you look around this Cathedral, you’ll see empty seats. Every one of those seats needs a seed. And the more seeds we sow, the more these seats we will fill. And we ask that you use this time to prepare your hearts for the seeds that God wants to sow in you and through you.
Lord, this seed that I hold out, I give to You. Let it be planted, bear much fruit. Let this seed which is small become me, let this seed become my mind, my heart, let this seed become my body, let this seed become my lips and Jesus, You live in me and help me to make a difference in our world that needs You so badly, Lord. Now may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. And may God give you peace in your laughter and in your tears, in your labor and in your leisure, in your sickness and in your health, in your youth and in your age, until you come to stand before Jesus in that day in which there is no sunset and no dawning, amen.