Lent is for Sowing Seeds

On Sunday night, I ended an evening of activities that explored Lent by giving all of our teenagers 2 lima beans.

We had the evening talking about Lent as a season of recognizing our own limits and need of Jesus. We explored how Lent is seen as traditionally a season of denying yourself, of sacrifice. It is a season of death, of dessert, of lack. But, as we began the last station, I held up a lima bean and asked them, what it might be like if we think of Lent as a season of planting, a season of sowing seeds?

In the lifecycle of a plant, in spring a fully grown adult plant creates beautiful flowers to draw in insects to spread the tree’s pollen and collect pollen from other trees. Once a flower is pollinated, it begins to grow seeds, sometimes in nuts or fruit. These beautiful fruits and flowers fall to the ground and are eaten, stomped on, rotten, chewed up, mashed under tires, until only the small seeds are left, and are covered in layers of soil, damp, dark, and dirty.

This might sound like a really rough patch in the life of the plant. This might seem like the end of the road. This might seem like death.

But we all know the truth. That this was the plant’s plan all along. That for the plant to grow, for there to be fruit and flowers, and leaves and trunks and stems, there must first be a seed, and a seed must be planted.

Lent is a darker season. Lent is a season of confession, of fasting, of self-denial. Lent is a season where faith is planted, where hope is buried like a seed. As lent culminates in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, it is very much a season that seems like the end of the road. It is a season of death.

But we all know the truth.

We all know what comes at the end, we all know that the stone rolls away and the seed doesn’t stay in the ground forever.

But for now, we plant. We prepare. We sit in the dark and damp and trust that even if, on the surface, it doesn’t look like much is happening, God is at work, transforming us from the inside out.

I had them take their lima beans (one of which had been soaking overnight), and notice how they both looked like dead, cold things. Then I had them carefully split open the one that had been soaking, and showed them its hidden life: a sprout.

Two little leaves growing out of the seed, but still inside the shell of the bean. The bean was transforming from the inside out. While it was buried, covered, damp, in darkness, looking to all the world like a small, dead thing, new life was springing up inside, transforming it completely.

I had them look closely at the transformation. From the outside, nothing, from the inside, the bean was just about to explode into new life.

I told them, “You are a seed that is being planted. God is at work in you, even if you can’t see it yet. By immersing yourself in the rich soil of the Christian community, soaking in the water of scripture and worship, and oxidizing the nutrients of prayer, you are growing, and someday soon, you’ll look back at this teenage version of yourself and be so proud of the little seed that made it, and shocked at how far you’ve managed to grow.”

Lent is a time for planting. We invited the teenagers to take a seed, and plant it. To water it, put it in the sun, and offer a prayer each time they did. We asked them to notice how the spirit of God grows in them like this little plant. And, we assured them, if the plant dies, to just remember that God is a better gardener than you are, and you grow nonetheless.

May your Lent be filled with rich soil, plenty of water, and constant reminders of the sunshine we grow towards in the love of Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday,

Kat Bair
Director of Youth Ministries



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