Midway through His ministry, Jesus told a parable of a farmer who sowed seed in his field. In Matthew 13:4-8 we read, “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold” (KJV).
His disciples were intrigued by the parable and Jesus explained the nature of the four soils. Since our wildflower for today is very thorny, let us note the explanation in Matthew 13:22, “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”
I suppose most of us in America are like this third soil choking on the cares of our affluence. Compared to the billions of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America whose per capita annual income is less than $1,000, we are rich. Yet in our affluence too often we ignore their cries for the simple necessities of life as though “to love thy neighbor” applies only to fellow Americans, not to all persons created in God’s image.
The spirit of Christmas is generosity as expressed by God’s gift of his son. Imagine the difference it would make if the money we spend for gifts to family were matched by an equal or greater sum sent through charities that alleviate poverty and slavery.
This horse nettle with white or lightly colored petals and a protruding yellow center is deceptively pretty. The throat of the bloom is purple and fades into lavender where the petals form. Flowers may appear as early as April, but more likely in July and can be seen as late as September.
The horse nettle plant stands 12 to 18 inches tall. The green leaves are hairy with very pronounced yellow center veins. The underside of the leaves are more tannish-green. The stem, with its thorns, is greenish-tan also.
Horse nettle forms fruit that turns yellow and looks like like tiny tomatoes, but don’t eat them! This plant is a member of the poisonous night shade family.
Horse nettle grows everywhere there is sun: roadsides, pastures, thin woods, lawns, and especially vegetable gardens. There seems to me a homing instinct in horse nettle for vegetable gardens. When they appear, pull them up by the root, but you had better wear gloves because they are spiny all over.
Sometimes the symbols of affluence appear to be beautiful like the horse nettle bloom. But the fruit of such a lifestyle, like the fruit of the horse nettle, may become a poison that destroys relationships and one’s effectiveness as a bearer of the “Good News.”
Let us rejoice with those affluent persons whose wealth is generously shared to provide the basic supplies and services for suffering humanity. Remember, compared to most of the world all Americans are affluent, too.