By Sherri Martin and Sandra Granthon-Roman
Welcome to the January 2023 “Special Edition” of Shalom News! The following pages are designed to show how God is expanding and equipping LMC to participate in the global story of redemption as a Spirit-led movement.
As the Bishop Elders Team has been praying into a section of Isaiah 55, the entire chapter offers a beautiful poetic vision of restoration from exile for the nation of Israel. Everyone is invited to return to the Lord and consider His thoughts.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
~Isaiah 55:9-11 ESV
By its true nature, rain and snow falling from heaven cannot help but result in agricultural abundance, supplying the earth with food. We breathe deeply of the refreshing ‘after the rain’ scent. We see the green of the lush landscape. We taste the kneaded bread on our tongues, filling our mouths and stomachs. So God’s word goes forth into the world for eternal purposes that do not fail. Impactful. Refreshing. Abundant. Life.
The connections between Isaiah 55 and the Gospel reading Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23 are unmistakable. The texts are about God’s word and use agricultural imagery, including the language of “sower” and “seed.” However, unlike Isaiah’s vision, where God’s word goes forth unchallenged and returns without void, Jesus’s parable presents multiple scenes where the action of sowing does not achieve its desired end. This difference is a notable reality that should be faced without rose-colored glasses. The hardships and obstacles are substantial in our communities and world today. We only need to lift our heads and look around to see food insecurity, drought, economic hardships, sickness, isolation due to COVID-19, racism, war, injustices, and political divide, to name a few.
Nevertheless, growth happens in unexpected places as God’s word goes forth, and the seed falls on fertile ground. Juniper and myrtle trees choke out briers and thorns. In the damp soil of individual souls, germination in full bloom produces the fruit of the Spirit that multiplies, mobilizes, and makes disciples of Jesus. Refreshing. Abundant. Eternal. Life.
LMC is learning corporately to follow Jesus as Lord. We pray for the Holy Spirit movement that goes out with joy and leads forth in peace—hoping that the mountains and hills will burst into song and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Go ahead. Turn the page. Taste and see the good things the Lord has done.
The artwork is inspired by the LMC mission statement to be a Spirit-led movement to make disciples of Jesus, mobilize every member, and multiply faith communities locally and beyond!
The Artwork illustrates the importance that God places on the creation of family (the main three leaves represent the mother, father, and child oneness). The composition directs our eyes upward and outward (creating a visual “cross” movement). God’s Holy Spirit, omnipresent in abstract form, transforms us to multiply and share the joy of creation as ordained by our Father God. God’s people, the church, sent out in joy to share the good news, led forth in peace.