Planting the Seed
Getting organised for the future (an assembly for Tuesday 2 May 2017)
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider our hopes and dreams, and how we might achieve them.
Preparation and materials
- Did you enjoy your day off yesterday? What did you do? Did any of you plant any seeds? That may seem a strange question to ask, but it’s entirely appropriate for thinking about May Day. In the days when most of the British population were involved in agriculture, May Day marked an important time of the year. March and April had been very busy months, ploughing and harrowing the ground, preparing it for the most important activity of all: sowing the seed. The spring sunshine and showers had warmed and irrigated the soil, which was ready for the new season’s crop to be planted. The seeds were sown, some in straight-line drills, others scattered. The work was hard and the hours were long, but by the end of April, the job was done, so everyone deserved a holiday.
- Historically, May Day has been a day for relaxation and enjoyment. In the past, May Day celebrations have included local people and morris dancers dancing round a maypole. A May Queen was chosen from among the girls, there was lots of food and drink and everything got livelier as the day wore on. It was party time because an important job had been completed. The seed was in the ground, germinating and growing. Everyone could now look forward to the harvest later in the year.
- Do you have hopes and dreams for the future? I wonder what they might be. You may have something you want to achieve. You may want to travel or complete a particular task. You may want great exam results or to remedy something that went wrong. You may want to meet someone famous, get married, get a particular job . . . the list is endless.
What the future holds is to some extent influenced by what you do now. Just as the farm labourers needed to plant the seed so that they would enjoy a harvest later in the year, so we need to act now if we are to enjoy the experiences that we wish for in the future. A good example of this is someone who wants to complete a marathon. For such an athlete, it is not just the week before the race that matters, it’s the long hours of running in the dark days of winter, many months before the event, that make all the difference. If you want to run a marathon this summer, the training should have begun already.
- So, how can we plant seeds now that will help us achieve our hopes and dreams? Jesus used the image of seeds to give good advice on several occasions.
First, he suggested the importance of sowing the seed in the right place. If it was sown on stony ground, on the pathway, among the weeds or in shallow ground, the seed was unlikely to thrive. Only sowing in good ground would work. So, whatever our plans are, we need to consider carefully what would be most productive in helping us to achieve them. We need to consider who we should involve, how much time and money we should invest and the experiences of others who have followed similar paths. Putting our effort in the right place now will ensure a better result in the future.
Second, Jesus warned that we might not see immediate results. He described how a seed appears to die before the shoots appear. It is buried in the ground, out of sight, apparently dead before it springs to life. So, long-term plans require patience and perseverance. It may feel like a long time before we can accomplish any of our dreams. We may be tempted to give up, or to try to change things, like young children who plant seeds, but are tempted to dig them up to check if they are still alive. All that does is kill the developing seeds. Seeds must be allowed the time they need to develop.
Time for reflection
Jesus suggested that we keep our hopes and dreams big. He gave the example of a tiny mustard seed that grows into a large plant, big enough for birds to perch in. Small dreams may be easier to achieve, but it is the big dreams that can bring the greatest satisfaction.
Where does that leave us today? We could look to the future and simply hope that it will happen, or we can decide to work hard towards our goals. As we do that, we can enjoy times of relaxation along the way, just like the May Day holidays of the past.
Thank you that we all have dreams about the future.
Remind us of all that we have achieved up to this moment in our lives.
Help us to work hard at sowing seeds for the future.
‘Ain’t no stoppin’ us now’ by McFadden & Whitehead