October 22, 2007

Sowing Seeds of Light
by Pastor George Van Alstine

Our 2007 Homecoming theme is LIGHT. We’re emphasizing how the light of God’s truth has been shining to the community all the years that the church has been on this corner in Altadena.

We think of light as bright and obvious, but fireflies and candles demonstrate that just a little light can make a great difference. An intriguing image is found in Psalm 97:11
“Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.â€?
This is a strange mixed metaphor. Can you see little seeds of light being scattered over a field?* As peculiar as this picture is, the psalmist makes a clear point. In the lives of the “righteousâ€? or the “upright in heart,â€? those sincerely trying to live in way that pleases God, little seeds of light are constantly being planted. The implication is that these seeds will eventually sprout and grow into a bountiful light-harvest that shines brightly.

In a parallel phrase, the psalmist mentions that seeds of “gladnessâ€? are sown alongside the seeds of light. These too will mature to a full harvest of rejoicing and thanksgiving (verse 12).

As I look back over the history of Altadena Baptist Church, I don’t see many examples of great displays of light. The church has had solid preaching, but no great pulpit orators. We have not experienced dramatic revivals in which many people are suddenly added to the fellowship. The physical facilities are comfortable, but not imposing, so many people in the community don’t notice there’s a church at the corner of Calaveras and El Molino.

The history of ABC is, rather, the sowing of many little flashes of light in the lives of its members. When a Sunday School teacher of three-year-olds presents a well-prepared lesson week after week, with no fanfare and little recognition, she is sowing seeds of light.

Other seeds are sown when the custodian cleans the toilets, when the wedding coordinator struggles through a rehearsal with an unprepared wedding party, when the church treasurer pays the electric bill, and when a church member warmly greets a newcomer to worship.

What we’ll be celebrating on Homecoming Sunday is the harvest of warm, bright light we all enjoy in this church’s worship, fellowship and outreach because of the many, many little light seeds planted over the decades by ABCers who have shared Jesus’ light out of love and gratitude. Following in their tradition we will rededicate ourselves to continue planting light-seeds for future harvests.

As a bonus, we will also be rejoicing as we harvest some of the “gladnessâ€?–seeds planted here over the years. Come, share in the joy with us.

*Your Bible translation may read “Light dawns for the righteous.â€? This reading comes from the interpreters’ discomfort with the mixed metaphor. By theorizing that one Hebrew letter was changed by a copyist’s error, these interpreters change the word for “sowâ€? to the word for “dawn,â€? and this smooths out the translation. I prefer the original “roughâ€? reading.