I feel strongly I can ask a simple question and the majority of the church will know the answer to it. What is my favorite Dominican fruit? As many of you know, I love lemoncillos . So when La Pastora asked me to preach, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to preach on lemoncillos.
There are so many things that I love about lemoncillos.They are rare to find in the US but here, in August, they are everywhere. It is my mission to taste all of the lemoncillos from all the different places. But there is one thing I do not like about lemoncillos. They are only ripe in August and the other 11 months I have to wait and think in the amazing fruit.
Here I have a seed, a plant, and a fruit and I ask you, which is the most important in the life of the plant? The seed? The plant? Or the fruit? The truth is, they are all important. Without the seed, there is not plant. Without the plant, there is not fruit. And without lemoncillos, well, there is just no reason the think about that.
Even with a seed, a plant, and the fruit. You still need more. I was recently on a trip in Puerto Plata, where we plante Saman seeds to grow. The missionary in charge of the plants shared with me that she knew nothing about planting seeds. She said she the first round of seeds she planted and waited. And waited, and waited. After weeks nothing happened. A local told her to spend time with the seeds, watering them, singing to them, and loving them. Since then, all of the seeds planted have begun to grow.
A seed by itself can not grow. A plant by itself will not produce fruit. And the fruit by itself, means nothing without a crazy American searching for it. They all need more. They need a fertile environment.
Luke 8:5-8 Parable of the Sower
The bible tells us a seed is just a seed unless it has fertile ground for it to grow in. Make no mistake that that every seed is just as important as any other but only those that grow in fertile ground will grow a plant and in the end produce the fruit. As many of you know, I’m not a farmer, probably more of the opposite. Though I desire to have a fruit tree, I can’t seem to get the seeds to grow, even as much as I love the fruit that comes from the plant.
Our children are the same way. They are seeds that need the soil of values and the watering love of adults to grow. Who knows why I want to try lemoncillos from every community? Because the environment of the seed and plant changes the flavor of the fruit. Every place that lemoncillos grow, the flavor is different. Kids are the same way. Each kid needs the same things to grow. Food, a house, and an adult that thinks they are important. Without these, they will never produce fruit. But the adults in the life of the child, change the flavor of the fruit.
Take a minute and draw a circle on your piece of paper. Now take a minute to think back to when you were a child and write the names of all the people you had in your life that loved God and loved you.
How many names are in the circle? How many of those people are from this church? If you have children, how many names are the same in your circle and their circle?
Children, like seeds, are a product of their environment. Research (investigacion) shows that the way we educate, talk, and look at children effects who they think they are and in tern, who they become. In the states, I work with kids that were referred for their behavior. Many of my client are referred because the kids are hitting and screaming. The first thing I do is establish clear, simple rules based on values. Though you want to teach the child not to hit, the value you want to teach is to respect other people. It is important for kids to know the rules but also the values in which in want to teach. Take a minute and think about the values you want kids to learn, then establish the rules. Anyone want to give an example of values you want to teach your children?
Next, I teach that all the rules of the house, apply to everyone who lives in the house. What I find most often, is the parents are doing the same thing the kids are. This means if you want the kids to stop hitting and screaming. Stop hitting and screaming at them!! Be the example of what you want them to be. If you want them to learn to respect people, be respectful to them and model what it means to respect other people. We are mirrors for the kids. They don’t know what to do when they are mad. So they do what we model for them to do. If you are mad and you scream and hit your kids, guess what they are going to do when they are mad…..scream and hit you! Why is it ok for you to do and not for them? The stories of the bible model this. We were given to the rules or “commandments” and struggled with that so God sent his son so we could mirror him as an example.
Be an example for the children in your life. If you want your kids to go to church, you go to church. If you want your kids to love God, show them what it means to love God and model what it means. In our scripture today, we read about the same seeds being planted in different types of soil. If the kids of this church are the seeds in our story, what kind of soil will we choose to plant them in? As a parent, you decide what kind of parent you want to be. As a church, you have just as big of a responsibility. You decide what kind of circle you want these kids to have? Will you commit to fill their circles with names of people that love God and love them? Will you choose to make the lives of these children important? To be an example to them of what it means to be a Christian? If you don’t, who will??