A man who committed burglary, was caught and sent to prison for it, but he refused to tell the police where he’d hidden the loot.
While he was in prison his wife wrote to him regularly, and it was clear that she found things a bit hard at home without him. One time she wrote: ‘I am hoping to grow my own veg to help out and I was hoping to plant some potatoes, but now that you’re in jail, there’s no-one to dig the back garden. I suppose I’ll have to do it myself, somehow.’
He wrote back straight away, saying, ‘Don’t dig up the back garden whatever you do – it’s where I buried all the stuff from the robbery!’, and he gave the letter to the prison authorities to be posted as usual.
A week later he got another letter from his wife, who said, ‘You’ll never guess what happened yesterday – thirty policemen came round and dug up the back garden!’ The burglar wrote back, ‘Brilliant! Now you can easily plant the potatoes!’
The burglar and his wife got what they wanted without putting in any effort, they got something for nothing.
Many of us here today have gardens or allotments, and till the land… at a small level keeping potted plants and herbs on the window shelf to those who manage to feed themselves - and many others - for months with their produce.
But whether you use a spade or a plough, you would probably consider it a great favour if someone did the digging for you, and spared you the hard work of preparation.
And that is what was reflected upon in our gospel reading this morning. Preparation.
This is the first of our FOOD MATTERS events, reflections, celebrations… and you will have received the handout based on Ruth’s work for the diocese and what we here at St Philip and St James are going to do about it.
Ploughing is all about starting with basics – it speaks for itself. Get all it all cleared, get it all cleaned up and sorted out.
Prepare the land for the coming sowing so that the seed has the greatest opportunity that we can give it for it to germinate and become the best of what it is destined to be.
Do I have to join the dots up here?
At the start of this New Year looking ahead across the months before us what PREPARATION are you we making NOW for the seed of God’s word which we receive week by week to have greatest opportunity that we can give it for it to germinate and we become the best of what it is God has destined us to be.
What PREPARATION what PLOUGHING up are you and doing in order that we have a cleared up and cleared out apathy, weariness and just plain obstinacy to encourage and support our growth in faith?
Likewise – as we as a community here wrestle this year with the issues of food production, food habits, fair sharing of food and food disposal – what PREPARATION, what PLOUGHING up of our resources are we going to examine an perhaps challenge?
How are we going to get our cupboards and lifestyles cleared out and cleaned up so that we can institute fresh ideas and practices in our relationship with food and our relationship to food?
Is FOOD a Theological issue?
Jesus instituted food as the binding elements of His body and His blood.
He ate with sinners and low of society – foodstuffs where often the object of his life lessons. Particularly the sharing of it – Mr Bigger Barns who wanted to keep it all for himself, the feeding of the Five thousand, the four thousand and so on.
In our Gospel we learnt;
Build on a good and solid foundation.
Don’t take the easier way. Not giving in to the temptation of ‘it doesn’t matter, it’ll do.’
Ploughing deep into ourselves and our reflections, using these things as points of our prayers.
As we remember what is going on in the farmland across this nation let us give thanks for the farmers and all involved in food production.
As we remember what is going on in the farmland across this nation let us be grateful for the abundance of food we have and how easily we can access this abundance.
As we remember what is going on in the farmland across this nation let us offer our hearts to the Ploughing of Holy Spirit. It Matters.
Revd Jane Parry