Nurture - Monday Musing, August 1, 2022
Nurture – to care for and encourage the growth of development. In the pages of scripture, God has been compared to a hen seeking out her chicks, to a rock that cannot be moved, to a mother suckling her child, to a wind that cannot be controlled and a fire which cannot be extinguished, to a woman seeking out a lost coin, to a king who invites everyone to his wedding feast, and to an eagle who stirs up her wings and shields the young in her nest. In each of these images, we learn more about God. God guides, protects, and nurtures God’s people.
Some say the concept of nurturing comes naturally. We are born into families who raise us, teach us as we grow, and walk with us into adulthood. We ultimately go out on our own – the nurtured becomes the nurturer for the next generation. Some raise their own families or form families of their choosing where care is given, love is shared. Even nature understands nurturing. Recently a Robin built a nest in the hibiscus in the backyard of the parsonage. I watched the Robin feed the young birds, nurturing them constantly with worms and berries; the mother (and father) Robins were there in the development and growth of the young birds before they left the nest. While this applies to us individually and to nature, what about the church?
Our faith teaches us that we should find ways to understand the perspective of others and practice humility by being willing to learn from others. Valarie Kaur says, “Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear.” We are embarking on a seven-week Sunday worship series on John Pavlovitz’s book, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, where we are invited to listen more carefully to one another. As we embark on this journey of expanding our table of plenty, our table of welcome, we seek to nurture, listen to, see, and know others who do not need to prove themselves worthy to sit at our table.
It is evident that the church is changing, and that further change is needed (or more specifically, more needs to be done to live-into the change). Pavlovitz says there is “an inherited affinity for the familiar and a fear of what isn’t.” Do we pretend that we don’t notice how things are different? The choice is ours – we can be paralyzed with inaction and pretend there is nothing to see, or we can move forward, caring for and encouraging the growth of development in the next generation of the church. Each generation is tasked with making faith their own. But this doesn’t happen in a bubble – it requires constant nurturing. God does not micromanage the church. Rather, God puts divine trust in us to nurture the next generation. Are we up for the challenge? See you in church!