May - June 2018

Written by Robbie Cansler
From her column Kingdom Come

There was no shortage of wildflowers in Michigan where I grew up. Our street was on the edge of a dirt road that wound itself through the woods. In the summer, the path was lined with Queen Anne’s Lace, Brown-Eyed Susans, Dame’s Rocket, and Wild Mustard. My sisters and I often came home with fistfuls of color to put in vases around our home.

The wildflowers were breathtaking and powerful against their green backdrop, so it didn’t take much imagination to picture magic happening in those woods. As someone who works hard to maintain a small garden and a few houseplants, it amazes me that such beautiful blossoms can grow without care and cultivation in the middle of nowhere.

A few weeks ago, I preached from John 12. In the text, Jesus talks about how seeds of wheat must die in order to grow and produce many more seeds. The text points to the pending death and resurrection of Jesus, but it also speaks to discipleship—that we as Christians are to go into the world and sacrifice ourselves that new life may abound.

That imagery made me think of wildflowers. It’s probably because I grew up around them rather than wheat, but it might also be because I think, in many ways, wildflowers are a fitting image for the mission of the church.

Wildflowers aren’t contained by flowerbeds and window boxes. In fact, most are considered weeds, since they grow in places where other things won’t. My mom referred to them as ditch flowers, because that’s where we often picked them.

Sometimes we forget that we gather together in order to again be scattered in the world, but
that is God’s way.

Wildflowers don’t need a lot of tending. They work in cooperation with whatever they receive from the sun, rain, and earth. They grow where they are planted, wherever that may be, providing beauty in even the harshest of places.

Wildflowers multiply. Their seeds are designed to spread. After adventures in the woods as children, my sisters and I spent a substantial amount of time pulling seeds off our clothing and shoelaces. These tiny kernels of potential are created to be carried by people, animals, and wind to new places.

When I think of the Kingdom of God and the making of disciples, I think of wildflowers—an unbridled collaboration of people with the Holy Spirit that takes beauty and hope to the most barren ditches of people’s lives.

As part of my sermon, I gave each congregant a package of wildflower seeds. I asked that they plant them in ways that would serve as reminders of how they are called to spread the message and love of Christ, die to self, and represent resurrected lives to the people around them. I picked up my own packet of seeds to spread as a reminder to myself as well.

It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of doing what needs to be done in the life of the church, and sometimes we forget that we gather together in order to again be scattered in the world, but that is God’s way, and it’s been working well for a long time.

So this spring, as I watch the wildflowers bloom and grow in unexpected places, I pray the Holy Spirit will breathe within my congregation and me the desire to take the life and beauty of Christ to unexpected places, to avoid being contained by “flowerboxes” and “garden beds,” to be selfless, and to allow the grace and love of God to grow free and wild in our lives and in the lives of others.

Rev. Robbie Cansler is an urban church planter/substitute public school teacher who serves the Mission Church of the Nazarene in Hammond, Indiana.