I am guessing this Sunday’s reading from Hosea 10 will be unfamiliar to many of you. It was quite unfamiliar to me as I began to prepare my sermon! However, I did recognize one verse, albeit I had often heard it quoted out of context:
Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. (Hosea 10:12)
The word “unplowed” is translated “fallow” in the King James Version. “Fallow ground” refers to soil that has been plowed and made ready for sowing but then is allowed to lie undisturbed as to regain its fertility and yield a greater crop.
Church of the Cross lies “fallow” in the heart of the summer. We give many of our volunteers in the Garden time to rest, our Neighborhood Groups take time off, there are only a couple church activities during the week, and Peter and his family retreat to (literally) the city with the cleanest air on planet earth.
We lie fallow, however, in order to be more fruitful. I am excited about the activities we have planned in the next couple months (e.g. the joint C4SO service on 8/4, the fall kickoff and potluck on 8/25, and the Parish Retreat). I am confident the next year will yield a greater kingdom harvest than the year before.
One of my favorite prayers in the Book of Common Prayer is designed to give “quiet confidence.” It’s a wonderful prayer while we “lie fallow.”
O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and
rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be
our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray,
to your presence, where we may be still and know that you
are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 832)