Emergence of Winter Wheat

Martin Luther was smart enough to remember what we all forget. Every day we forget how great life can be if we live to the potential God has built into us. Sadder still, we forget how much God does to help us reach those heights. According to Luther, we never, ever, outgrow our need to get back to basics about these two things.

Luther wrote his Small Catechism to remind us of the basics: The Ten Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism and Eucharist.

In his succinct explanation to the first article of the Creed—the part about the Creator God–Luther writes: God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property—along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life.”

Then, in his explanation to the Lord’s Prayer, he says the key to living a full life is prayerful gratefulness for the things God gives. Among them is “daily bread” which encompasses the following: “Everything included in the necessities and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”

This past week we have had a wondrous awakening to the infinite dimensions of “daily bread.” The past year our corner of the world, like most others, has been touched by climate change. We have been teetering between moderate and severe drought from late winter into fall. Prior to our planting the fields had been turning to dust. But just two days after a new winter wheat crop was planted here we were blessed with more than a half inch of rain. Then another, and another.  

Chauncey Watson II, who planted the crop, was only half joking when he asked me after the planting to use my divinity connections to arrange for a dose of rain right after he finished his wheat plantings of our field and a couple others. Half joking, but half deadly serious and desperate.

The timing turned out to be exact and celebrated by all the wheat farmers. Yet I will ever insist “I’m in sales and not management.” I can only join my heart with that of farmers all over the planet in begging for favorable weather and being amazed when it comes.

But when I think with Luther’s ultra-wide perspective, I must give thanks to God that the fertilizers were spread, the weeds harrowed away, the seed beds prepared with care and planted with good seed. I must continue to be thankful that  the seasons turn beautifully, the farmers stay safe and can pay the bills and finish the harvest, the barges and trucks be manned safely by the haulers, the processors do their work with adequate sanitation, the grocers run their operations adequately, and all of it spin together like clockwork. I must pray for and give thanks for good government and decency and mercy among us all that allows all of these things to go on.

Just in time. The rains came exactly in time. And the field is greening up with the genius of beauty. And for daily bread to be given by God there must be beautiful clockwork.

Daily and abundantly God provides. Now let us do our part. Let us give thanks and praise this God with the way we live our lives with kindness and generosity.

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About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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