Sep. 21st, 2017 | Rev. Don Underwood
There is a lot of cotton growing on the plains of north Texas this year. Driving north by way of the back roads provides views of our black dirt prairie land that are reminiscent of a bygone era, a time when “cotton was king.” This being a rather stunning departure from recent agricultural practice, I called my friend Chico Light to find out what is going on. He took the call while driving his John Deere combine and harvesting corn. The wet summer has had him behind schedule, and I could hear the relief in his voice when he said he was finishing up his final twenty acres. We talked some about the prospects of buying some good coastal hay for the winter, and then I put the question to him: why is everyone planting cotton?
Chico knew the answer, but it is complicated enough that it would extend this commentary beyond my allotted three or four paragraphs. Let’s just say that cotton is not yet king again, but the economics of growing cotton have been improved by the entrepreneurial efforts of some regional farmers and business people.
What interests me today is a new opportunity to see how God’s presence in our lives can be seen in the natural world. A couple of weeks ago I pulled my truck over on Light Ranch Road and plucked a big, green boll from a nearby cotton plant. When I sliced it open with my knife I found a pure white, wet center, somewhat like the inside of a coconut. Today, sitting on our breakfast bar, there is a green boll sitting alongside one that is fully matured, the big white puffs of cotton indistinguishable from the cotton puffs you might buy at the drugstore. The transformation is rather remarkable. This little display is intended for my grandsons, not only as a lesson in agriculture, but as a visible demonstration of how God wants us to grow from the inside out.
Jesus consistently pointed to nature and agriculture to explain God’s work in the world and in our lives. “Look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields,” he said in Matthew 6. In Matthew 13 he told the disciples that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that starts out tiny, but grows into a large tree. Francis of Assisi believed that nature is God’s original revelation, preceding the Bible. If you live in north Texas, I would suggest that now is the perfect time to take your kids or grand kids into the country and let them view the wonder of thousands of little cotton balls sprouting from lush, green plants. You might even provide a little commentary: God plants beautiful things inside of us, and this is what it means to bloom where you are planted.
On Sunday morning during the 11 AM service, 46 children will be presented with their very own Bible. This is an important milestone for our third graders, and a moment that they will remember for years to come. I’ve had the privilege of presenting Bibles to third graders for 34 years and it is one of the high moments of our worship services. We hope you will be there to celebrate with us.