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Nov 15, 2020


A Future with Hope: The Releasing  

On Hazelnuts, Apples and Bees

Anne Ellis

John 12: 24-25

24-25 “Listen
carefully Jesus said: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to
the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it
sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who
holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go,
reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.



This passage in the bible reminds me of this book, I read a lot when I was a child, called Amanda Grows Up. It’s a
story of a Hazelnut named Amanda. Amanda lives on the end of a Hazelnut tree
branch, with her friends Phil, Bert and Carolyn. They were very happy in their
tree watching the children play in the park, swinging in the breeze, watching
the birds in the branches.


When autumn comes the other hazelnuts fall to
the ground and they invite Amanda to join them. But she is afraid because she
likes where she is, and the ground looks very far away. Then she sees the
children come and pick up the other hazelnuts and carry them off to school.


Amanda thinks this is might be fun, so she
bravely drops to the ground. But she sinks into the grass, where no one can
find her, she doesn’t get picked up and taken to school. Amanda is very sad.


Winter comes and Amanda sleeps under the fallen
leaves and the snow. In spring she feels too tight and her shell cracks open.
She grows roots down into the earth and she reaches up towards the sun. Amanda
grows into a big hazelnut tree.


In the Children and Youth Video I recorded for
this week – I share the whole book, so you might want to watch that video too.
At the end of the story I ask the children some wondering questions:


I wonder about the words from the scripture
‘anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.


I wonder what it means to let it go and still
have it forever?


I wonder if Amanda got her new life because she
let go?


I wonder How many of us had big plans this year?
Maybe we were going to have a big family holiday somewhere special. Maybe we
were going to go away on our own for the first time. Many you were just going
to see your friends a whole lot more than you did this year.


This year has not gone according
to plans. I expect we can all say that and we can all understand how Amanda
felt when she jumped to the ground ready for an adventure, but instead got lost
in the grass. Perhaps we’re feeling a little bit lost in the grass right now.



I’ve also found myself pondering
the last line of the passage –if you let it go, being reckless in your love,
you’ll have it forever.
This idea of being reckless in your love reminded
me of my bees. A number of years ago I got Mason bees for my garden. Some of
you are familiar with Mason bees, I’m sure, but for those of you who aren’t,
Mason bees are solitary bees, they don’t build hives like other bees. They’re
smaller, a sort of blueish green colour and live on their own. Mason bees are
very gentle, they rarely sting, and I’ve carried some around on my hands
before. In the spring they hatch around the same time as the first blossoms
come out on fruit trees. They are excellent pollinators of early flowers.


And they have very short life
spans. They spend most of their lives preparing a home for their eggs. Mason
bees like to lay their eggs in tunnels, or small enclosed spaces. They lay one
egg, then collect up a pile of pollen for that egg, then build a little wall.
Then they do that again, creating little chambers for their eggs. When spring
turns to summer Mason bees die.


In the meantime, the eggs hatch
in their chambers, the larvae feed on the pollen, turn in to pupae, then make a
cocoon and hibernate until the following spring. 


The first spring I had Mason bees
I spent a lot of time talking with my neighbour across the street who also had
Mason bees. I learned a lot from him about how to care for them.


That same year I was in the midst
of my Bachelors degree in Divinity, and if you ever want to test your faith –
study it academically. After a particularly hard and draining year and a
particularly hard and draining exam, I felt completely lost and abandoned by
God. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, it was as though God didn’t
believe in me. The presence of God was gone from my life. It was a terrible
place to be, I grieved and felt much sorrow. I spent much of that summer unsure
I would ever feel the presence of God again.


In the fall, my neighbour, the
one with the bees, gave me a box of apples from his backyard. It was one of
those ‘bumper crop years’ and he had more apples than he knew what to do with.

So I decided to make apple pie.
As I stood in my kitchen peeling the apples I began to think about the Mason
bees. I realized it was the mason bees from earlier in the spring that
pollinated the blossoms that made the apples I was holding in my hand. But
mason bees don’t live past the spring, they don’t live to see their descendants
grow up, they don’t live long enough to see their hard work of pollinating
blossoms turn into apples.


Yet, they are reckless with their
love, collecting food for children they’ll never know, working in the
springtime moving creation towards seasons they’ll never experience. They leave
a legacy after their short springtime life that changes blossom into food.


They change the world, reckless
in their love and it is real and it is eternal.


That’s where God is. That’s what
God is. As I stood in my kitchen that autumn afternoon peeling apples and
thinking about Mason bees the presence of God returned, my faith was renewed
and the sorrow I had felt all summer was gone.


I think about that story now as
we enter into the winter of 2020, a year that was nothing like anything we’ve
ever experienced, and I find myself thinking about the Mason bees and Amanda
the hazelnut.


Many of us have found this
topsy-turvy year very difficult. Our regular life routines have been disrupted
in small and very drastic ways. Many of us have found it hard keep living our
lives in ways that have meaning this year and that’s where the bees come in and
where we can find a future with hope.


Because the bees do what is right
and what is good, not knowing what the outcome will be, not knowing what the
future will bring. They trust as we are being called to trust – that planting,
being buried like a seed in the ground, or a bee in a cocoon, or a hazelnut in
the grass will grow into something.


Something, we know not what. But
I’m willing to put my faith on it, that it will be something good.


Amanda the hazelnut had a dream.
She wanted to go on an adventure, so she recklessly jumped from her tree and
landed in the grass, where she sank down deep and wasn’t found. I feel like
this is where we are in the story of this year 2020. Back in the spring we were
full of laughter and fun, swinging inthe breeze up high in the trees. Then
COVID came along and the dreams and adventures we planned had to change.


We’re lost in the grass, we can’t
see what’s around us, what’s going to happen next and we are being called upon
to be patient. To stay still and quiet and alone (more or less). Like Amanda
does throughout the winter. She sleeps in the ground, is buried beneath the
grass and leaves and snow. We are being called to a more solitary winter right
now, like Mason bees in their little chambers and cocoons.


We’re being asked to let go of
our lives as they are,
because if we hold on to life as it is
too hard, we will destroy it. When Amanda wakes in the springtime, she feels
constricted, her shell feels too tight, so she cracks open and grows. Amanda
lets go of the life that she wanted, her life as it was, and grows into
something new, something amazing, a hazelnut tree.


So here we are, hazelnuts lost in
the grass, a grains of wheat, buried in the earth, waiting. Throughout the fall
we’ve been talking about a future with hope. Planting and planning for it and
now we’re at the hard part. Waiting. Waiting to see what our seeds will grow
into. Waiting for the springtime.


And we’re in a time of letting
go. Letting go of what was, what should have been, and all the things that
didn’t happen. And we do so full of trust. Trust that spring will come, trust
that seeds will sprout, bees will be born, flowers will be pollinated, and apples
will grow.

As we too will grow, reckless in
our love and our future with hope will be forever, real and eternal.