Samantha Nichols (she/her) is a 27-year-old pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. During her time as a college student at Missouri State University, Samantha learned about Interfaith Youth Core and also attended one Interfaith leadership Institute (ILI). Inspired by the interfaith leaders she met in ~ the ILI, she began an interfaith group on campus and also served as a much better Together Coach for the 2014-2015 institution year. These experiences helped Samantha discern a speak to to ordained ministry, leading her to the Lutheran institution of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) for seminary. While in Chicago, Samantha worked as a ar organizer, organizing people of faith about issues like finishing cash bail and passing a simply state budget. Samantha i graduated from LSTC in 2019 before moving come Nebraska whereby she at this time lives and serves 2 rural congregations. You have the right to follow she on Twitter at

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Test the soil. Wait a pair of weeks for the results. Listen to soil experts. Add whatever minerals and also vitamins her soil is lacking. Put in the extra effort prior to you excitedly tear open up a packet of seeds and begin planting. 

This is simply some the the advice ns ignored before trying to flourish flowers for the an initial time. Showing on these missteps and also the resulting chaos of sad-looking blooms, I preached on Jesus’ Parable of the Sower because that our an initial worship organization in the sanctuary because the center of March. 

In that parable, Jesus describes a sower that drops some seeds top top a path, sows rather in rocky soil, and also scatters even an ext among thorns. The seed that loss on the route are quickly consumed by birds. The rocky soil permits for some rapid growth, however the shallowness that the soil way the roots have actually nowhere come go. Can not to make it through the heat, these plants dice as shortly as the sunlight comes up. The mandrel choke out any kind of growth castle encounter. 

Thankfully, this sower does manage to plant part seeds in good soil. These seeds grow into strong and sturdy plants, contributing come a bountiful harvest. 

Jesus then describes this parable. The rocky soil, he says, to represent the human who immediately and also even joyfully receives oh my god Word, however has no root. This human disregards the Word around as conveniently as they an initial received it. 

Reflecting on this parable as I all set my sermon lugged me right earlier to the center of in march when everything changed. Seemingly overnight, it ended up being clear that an easy changes come the worship business like no shaking hand or happen the giving would be insufficient in the confront of a global pandemic. 

Rather, the entire worship company would should change. An ext specifically, that would move online. Ns rushed come learn straightforward video editing and enhancing skills, trying come remember literally anything indigenous a brief fourth-grade obsession with “Windows Movie Maker.” confirmation classes and also our youth group gathered over video clip chat. Bible study taken place by phone. 

This to be an exhausting, frantic, and confusing period of time, a few weeks throughout which it seemed choose a couple of hundred alters were made in rapid succession. It was a whirlwind, come say the least. 

And the dust never ever really settled. 

Not even a month ~ this initial wave of change it was time to sing, “Alleluia!” and proclaim the “Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!” ~ a painful back-and-forth between offering one online organization or some type of drive-up service, it was Easter Sunday and yet another video clip was edited, uploaded, posted, and also e-mailed. 

In June, people sat in their lawn chairs for our an initial outdoor worship service.  

And simply over a month after that, ns was was standing in the sanctuary and also preaching on the Parable of the Sower. 

Every one of those large decisions about where and how we praise was painful. And also with each huge decision come all kinds of vital questions. If we worship online, carry out I sell communion? If we praise outdoors, just how do i make sure civilization are comfortable? when we’re earlier inside the sanctuary, will I be able to require masks? 

These space not the kinds of inquiries I thought around in seminary. But they are the concerns that have conquered the past five months of my first year together a pastor. 

Each phase of this experience has been more complicated than the last. 

For together confusing and also hectic together those at an early stage days the the pandemic were, ns felt an ext hopeful. I felt more confident. I felt choose my heart was an excellent soil, open up to oh my god love, and also trusting in oh my gosh enduring presence. But together I preached to mine people around the Parable of the Sower, i realized the this sermon was also speaking to me.  

My heart is not great soil. My heart is the rocky soil, thoroughly unprepared for the scorching warmth of a public health crisis, rapid to adapt to an unsure situation however just as quick to break, harboring more disappointment and anger 보다 trust and love. 

I deserve to glance exterior at some wilted snapdragons to understand the consequences of negative soil. 

We’ve relocated online, we’ve relocated outside, and also we’ve moved back into the sanctuary. I’ve facebook messaged, e-mailed, and also called mine public wellness department searching for what is not simply permissible but actually recommended. I’ve suggested with elected officials. I’ve made much more unpopular decisions than I might have suspect this early in mine life together an ordained pastor from inquiry masks to refraining from collective singing. 

There will be even more difficult, painful, and unpopular decisions, decisions the will continue to be guided by the advice of ours public health officials, and also the conviction that to follow Christ is to care for our neighbors. 

And so, the seems like a good time to heed the advice I’ve generally ignored: tend the soil. This is a an excellent time to practice what i’ve preached. 

Certainly, my soil has actually been tested and the outcomes are not great.

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However the “experts” i have consulted, fellow pastors, interfaith leaders, friends, family, and, that course, oh my god Word, have reminded me that my soil have the right to be transformed from other rocky into something healthy and also resilient. Ns can add nutrients to my soil like a deeper life that prayer, forgiveness, and grace. 

Right now, my soil is rocky. 

But eventually, i trust, mine soil will be improved. 

Out of this soil, i hope, an even deeper trust in God will certainly emerge, the sort of trust that will certainly sustain me and ensure that i never disregard the call to love mine neighbor, even when that’s difficult to do. And so, i pray these words I first heard in a hymn, “Lord, let my love be an excellent soil.”