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Children and Sermons

 We are watering the seeds we have just planted
I am talking to them about their spiritual garden and I'm pretty sure I lost Megan.
  What do you think?

I love to do children's sermons partly because I like talking to kids.  I never know which way the children's sermon is going to go.  Today I attempted to talk to them about the spirit and  I tried to make an analogy between caring for a garden and caring for your spirit.  My message was that you make sure a garden is taken care of by planting good seeds, fertilizing, watering and making sure it is weeded.  I told them it is important to take care of your soul as well by making sure you love God and others and praying.  I gave each child beans to plant and tend.  I think I may have been a little too abstract in the analogy of gardening the soul.

In my first career as a teacher of students with emotional disabilities  I would give each of my students a plant to take care of.  The students would get very protective of their plants.  I am not sure what was going on psychologically with them but their plants were very important to them.  Nurturing a plant is a good first step on the road to nurturing others.

Fr. Fred

Helping Hand

                                                  Our Mormon elders hard at work
                                                    The Ministry Center Food Bank
                                                 The food storage room at the food bank

For the last few months I have been working as a counselor at the Ministry Center food bank.  I don't know how many years it has been in operation but I can say that the food bank is well used and I think a very important part of our community.  We are very fortunate that the Hy-Vee distribution center is in town because they have been very generous in supplying us with food.  Sometimes it is dented or has gotten to us in some other way.  Pizza Hut gives us the left over pizza from their noon buffet and Hy-Vee gives us their left over bakery goods.  The food is always appreciated.

We are a crew of four on Fridays.  Two Mormon elders gather the food for the families and Cheryl helps with the paperwork as well as about everything else.

When I got there at 9:30 this morning there were three families waiting for me.  My job as a counselor is to listen to their stories and do the paperwork so they can get what they need.  This morning I remember one story in particular.  A young woman with three children came into the counseling room.   I pulled her file and saw that it showed a family of five.  She pointed to the paper I was looking at and said,"it's a family of four now."  She related to me that her husband had moved out and that she was trying to support her children on her own.  I asked her if he was sending any support and she said no.  I asked her if she had a church she regularly attended and she said yes and that the pastor at the church had been a big help.

In an earlier post I told a story of how a man had approached me at the grocery store, had given me some money and told me to do whatever I wanted with it.  This woman in crisis who was struggling to raise three kids seemed like a good place to use it. 

I told the young mother I had been given some money earlier in the week and I wanted her to have it.  She thanked me as tears began to well up in her eyes. I hope she left the Ministry Center with a little less of an emotional burden than she came in with.

Of Gardens

In the dead of winter I begin fantasizing about next year's garden.  I long for the flavor of a red ripe tomato.  I look forward to the crisp sweet crunch of a hand picked apple or the sweet flavor of a fresh grape.  I plant my garden with great anticipation and wait for the magic of the garden's bounty to appear.  But, it doesn't work that way does it.  Weeds need pulled and hoed.  You sometimes need to water and you always need to be on the lookout for invaders like bugs or deer. 

Gardens can be work.  OK, now comes the analogy.  The soul is a lot like a garden.  It needs to be tended too.  My own personal spiritual garden has a lot of weeds in it.  I find that if I pull the weeds out while they are small they do a lot less damage than if I let them get big and thorny and troublesome. 

I am going to do some serious weeding in my garden today and maybe I will fertilize it with a combination of spiritual reading and meditation.

Fr. Fred