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Today, we are pleased to introduce our newest Clergy member, The Rev. Wesley Arning. Rev. Arning joined St. Martin’s in August, after serving as the Priest in Charge and then Rector of St. James the Less Episcopal Church in Madison, Tenn. At St. Martin’s, he will work with a number of groups and programs including young adults and small group efforts. He earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and Biblical studies from Gordon College (Boston), where he studied abroad in Jerusalem for a semester focusing on Rabbinic thought and literature and Biblical archaeology. He holds a master’s of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Megan, are expecting their first child in December.
Reaping Love
“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”
Hosea 10:12
I grew up working in my grandfather’s garden. In the summertime, there is a plethora of vegetables to tend: corn and beans, peppers and peas, and a whole host of tomato plants as far as the eye can see. Just before leaving Nashville, I was out in the garden with him, now at the ripe old age of 94, picking the first tomatoes of the season. Those truly are precious moments to share with him. And so, it is no surprise that every time Scripture uses agricultural imagery, I think of my grandfather.
It doesn’t come as a shock that ancient cultures were much more connected to the land than we are today. Israel was deeply connected to the land, and so were its prophets. I’m convinced the prophet Hosea was a farmer. Though scholars considered him a “minor prophet,” he has a great big message to share.
In our passage today, Hosea challenges us to sow, reap and break up the soil in which we’re rooted, so that God can work afresh in our life. In the midst of tilling our spiritual soil (i.e., our souls), we are to “reap steadfast love.”
That’s easier said than done, but there is something to say about the process of tending to our souls that allows us to receive God’s grace and love in new and life-giving ways. Turning over the soil can be good and necessary for plants (and for us). This holy process of prayer and reflection—this act of tilling—can then prepare us to receive God’s gift of His loyal, steadfast love and to do so joyfully.
The Kentucky farmer and writer Wendell Berry in his book, “Jayber Crow,” says, “The revelations of love are never complete or clear, not in this world. Love is slow and accumulating, and no matter how large or high it grows, it falls short. Love comprehends the world, though we don’t comprehend it.”
Love is a mystery, and it can be so hard for us to receive sometimes. Yet, Hosea says God’s love is not only the special ingredient for spiritual growth, but it is also the fruit that we will harvest in this life and the life to come.
The Rev. Wesley Arning
Associate for Young Adult and Small Group Ministry
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