Seeds and Surprises: North London Lammas

Seeds and Surprises: North London Lammas

by James Mercer

He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

Mark 4: 26-29

The churchyard grass is now cut and raked. The primroses, cowslips and bluebells having been succeeded by tall straggly grasses and the spikes of delicate, late flowering agrimony.

Lammastide, which falls on 1 August, is the optimum time for the remnant meadow to be cut. The flower seeds have formed and fallen to the earth. Removing the grass cuttings by raking maintains an appropriate nutrient level in the soil, preventing new growth from being choked and allowing the frosts and the sun to penetrate to ground level. Next year, the seeds that germinate successfully, will reveal new growth and new beauty as the flowers unfold and the plants reach maturity.

Some seeds may, however, remain in the ground, apparently lifeless, for many years – and then surprise! Up comes something completely unexpected and breathtakingly beautiful. The last Common Spotted Orchid was recorded in the churchyard some fifteen or so years ago and this year reappeared, to surprise and delight, in all its glory, as late spring gave way to early summer. And within a few feet of an ever busy North London arterial road. With continuing careful management of the grassland, its seeds will set, hopefully, and reinstate a new colony of orchids in future years.

The Kingdom seeds that we sow and nurture with care will bear fruit; be they acts of kindness, justice, forgiveness or beauty. Kingdom seeds are never wasted. Justice and beauty will win they day – even if their harvest may be a long time in coming in its fullness.

And we are called to be those people who herald and announce the in-breaking of God’s justice and beauty into a hurting and broken world, anticipating the time when ‘the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the water covers the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14) and when ‘the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ...’ (Rev 11:15). We are to be those who sow and nurture Kingdom seeds that surprise a weary world with unexpected beauty, sometimes reaping an outcome a hundredfold, sometimes sixty, sometimes thirty times more than was ever imagined to be possible.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

Psalm 96: 10-13

The Revd James Mercer is vicar of All Saints' Harrow Weald, Diocese of London and treasurer of Fulcrum

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