This past week was a hard one for me, my mind would not be still and my thoughts covered many, many musings. I found myself reading the book of Joshua, the same book I told you this past Sunday to avoid, and I realized that I was enjoying it. I delved deep into atonement theology, which frankly—I was already convinced about and didn’t need to spare brain cells on it. I picked up a my book on bird-friendly projects, and I’m ready to do some as soon as the weather cooperates.
And then, this morning, I thought about chaff.
That’s right. Chaff.
(Don’t leave me now, this probably is a future Jeopardy question. Dig in and win that daily double.)
Chaff is mentioned a lot in the Bible, and it refers to the outer-“shell” of the grains that were removed during harvest time through threshing and winnowing. In the book of Ruth, the threshing floor of Boaz would have been covered in chaff. The workers would have thrown the grain into the air and the grain would have separated from the chaff. The chaff would blow away, land on the floor, and the grain—it stayed in the baskets, sheets, whatever they had on hand.
The prophets used the earthy image of chaff a lot. In the book of Daniel, chapter 2, verse 35, he said:
35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, were all broken in pieces and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found.
And yes, I am pulling this out of context because that’s what my mind did when I read Chapter 2 of Daniel this week. I focused on the phrase, the “chaff of the summer threshing floors.”
Summer is coming. I realize here in Wisconsin, we haven’t even had a really consistent Spring yet, but Summer is coming. It is. But it certainly will look, feel, and be different. Many of our festivals and highlights of the season have already been cancelled. Weddings postponed. Venues closed. Camps postponed indefinitely. What worship will look like in the summer, I cannot guarantee. What your work and family life will be, only God knows.
And I don’t write that flippantly. I mean it. Only God knows.
But, I do know this. This is a time of winnowing, a time for chaff to leave the grain so that the grain, the seed can GROW.
And what is my chaff, your chaff, the Church’s chaff and the world’s chaff—we need to think about as we face the summer threshing floor. What is important to harvest from this time of COVID-19? What is important to burn? Because that is all chaff is used for once removed. It is to be burned.
Pete and I have discovered already some chaff that we can let go to get to the grain. Some habits, some things we did—we no longer do and frankly, I don’t want to go back and pick them up again. Other things have become dearer to us, more precious, and I don’t want to lose that, either.
I got a lot of chaff that needs winnowing. I think this spring and summer, we all will find ourselves doing this, too. This COVID time is a time of preparing for the harvest. What grains of inspiration will we have to grow better, stronger? What seeds of compassion, generosity, and grace will spread in our life-soils and produce good, solid fruit?
I don’t know about you, but I am delving deep into this train of thought and making a few notes and lists about it. I have some conversations that will happen, I am positive, because of it. Conversations with myself, my family and yes, with you belived Bay Shore. The Body of Christ has some chaff to winnow, too.
The Holy Spirit, in Greek and Hebrew, is rooted in the word for “wind.” And the winds are blowing, and the chaff is ready to leave and reveal what is most important for us to have in our stockpiles. I pray that the Holy Spirit moves around you and through your hoards of chaff-enveloped items, thoughts and perceived needs and reveals a growing truth in your basket. One that will show a strong harvest and more seeds that can grow in the future.
I pray our world uses this time to grow and looks ahead with joy, knowing that God sent the wind and the season and the harvest in the first place. I was reminded on Earth Day that this is the world that the Lord made, and we are on it for only a limited time. Tilling, working and harvesting is hard, but it is certainly blessed.
God bless you and your loved ones,