Good Ground – Reflection on new growth in old places

by Lisa DeRosa
by Carol Dixon

In our lives plant seeds of hope,

In our homes plant seeds of love,

In our Church plant seeds of joy,

Tell the world about God’s love.

Tell the world about God’s love.

1 Jesus said ‘If you have faith

small as a mustard seed,

In my name you’ll do great things,

you’ll do great things indeed.

Refrain

Jesus said ‘Until it dies

2 ‘If a seed falls to the ground,

lies buried like the grain’

Jesus said ‘Until it dies

it cannot grow again.’

Refrain

3 Jesus told the story of

the seed the sower sows,

‘Listen to my Father’s words

and then your faith will grow.’

Refrain

4 ‘Some words fall among the thorns

and some on stony ground;

Some are carried off and lost

but others find good ground.’

Refrain © 1990 Carol Dixon

 

In 1990, I took part in a Churches Together event at the beginning of the Decade of Evangelism. The event was one of five Garden Festivals held in the UK to reclaim old industrial land for regeneration & renewal. I was working as Moderator’s Secretary at the time in the United Reformed Synod Office, liaising with the other church leaders’ offices to organise the churches presence, providing a quiet sanctuary and chaplaincy for the festival and also arranging the weekly service which took place at the main arena every Sunday.

I was invited to be part of the team planning the Women’s Service and at the first meeting of the group was asked if I would like to write a hymn encapsulating the theme of the Gateshead Festival ‘Good Ground’. I was delighted and terrified in equal measure and actually ‘wrote’ the hymn while driving back from the meeting in the car and on my arrival at home, I rushed into the house shouting to my family ‘Don’t say anything to me, I’m writing a hymn’ as I dashed for the piano & a pen & paper (we didn’t compose on computers in those days). The end result was ‘Good Ground’, a calypso based on Jesus’ statements about growth and new life and it was sung at the service by the African Women’s Choir, resplendent in their colourful national dress, who not only sang it with great joy but danced as they sang. An unforgettable experience.

Gateshead Garden Fesitval (Photos below by © Trevor Ermel. Used with permission)

Photos © Trevor Ermel. Used with permission)

Preparing the Ground


Photos © Trevor Ermel. Used with permission

Derelict site before regeneration

The coal staithes in the background of both pictures opened in 1893 and closed in 1980 and were restored and opened to the public. The area had previously been the site of Redheugh Gasworks, Norwood Cokeworks and Norwood Sidings, once the main railway yard. More than 1,000 jobs were created in landscaping and constructing the festival facilities, with a further 1,000 staff to look after 200 gardens and 50 exhibitions. The festival’s main objective was the long-term redevelopment of former derelict land and it was a huge success. With new modern housing nearby, today this is a highly pleasant Tyneside setting.  More than two million trees and shrubs were planted, 1.2m bulbs, three tonnes of grass seed used and 60,000 sq metres of turf – enough for 1,000 domestic lawns. The six-month festival brought together horticulture, art, sport and cultural events

I loved the analogy of the old run down places, having outlived their original purpose and left as waste ground being brought back to life again, not only for a festival of fun & celebration but with the long-term legacy of new homes and new garden spaces in a derelict part of the city. When we see regeneration initiatives it challenges us to look at our lives and the places where we live to see where we can bring the new life of Jesus into the broken and useless areas of our lives and our neighbourhoods, living out the Gospel message in the story Jesus told of the Sower.

Although reclamation of old sites can look spectacular, many of the signs of renewal can be tiny – as tiny as a seed and growth only becomes obvious after a long period of time. These signs of hope over time can turn into something beautiful for God and flourish in ways we never imagined… But God does.

Faith in a nutshell’ – meditation on a beechnut

Inside

  this prickly shell

silky soft skin

cups

    the sharp-edged nut;

slowly the petals of the pod

open

    and release the promise

of new life.

In this sweet seed

    hides a great tree,

the mystery of its pattern

dispersed

  into the rich earth

to disappear and grow in secret;

To thrust bold shoots

    through

the earth’s crust,

until

    the sturdy sapling stands

unshaken and unbent;

striving

    towards its proud

and ancient heritage –

a blueprint

    traced

        in the beginning

of time….

    when God

               Smiled. © Carol Dixon

One of my favourite prayers about growth is St Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3. May it be our prayer for each other, for our neighbourhoods and our world today. (Ephesians 3:14-21). 

Rooted and grounded in love.

Feature photo above by Sorin Gheorghita on unsplash.

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1 comment

Herbert B Orr August 25, 2020 - 7:30 am

Years ago I used the word “blueprint” like is stated here. That a seed contains such a one that makes the plant do what God made it to do: Genesis 1 v 29 and Mark 4 26.is what Jesus said. He used it as a metaphor for us to have a blueprint. First, we must have the water of the Holy Spirit to make the shell of our seed that has to die. Of course Jesus and Paul says that we must die, the old nature so that the Holy Spirit can fill us to make our blueprint give a harvest like Jesus said in Mark 4 v 29.
When I was 17 I got my blueprint to become a foreign missionary. Later, I chose to be a medical missionary for 38 yrs.
Like Jesus said about obstacles come to prevent a harvest one can declare it like they moved into the sea. My first obstacle was finances. God gave me the fund back then 1955 when such scholarships were rare. Also, I had the obstacle of learning enough medical facts for me to pass. Such facts were to many to know. But, I learned enough to pass removing this obstacle.

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