by Daniel Yoder

In the fall of 2017, our “Take Good Care” sermon series focused on a wide range of stewardship topics, but we wanted something consistent in children’s time. So I built a soil box and gave it to the children as a gift on the first Sunday of the series.

It was a gift that they had to care for. We planted seeds, watered them, and watched them grow from week to week. As with all living things, the box of soil began to take on a life of its own that outlived the sermon series: 

  • When the wheat grass became too thick, we thinned it out and ate it at a Wednesday evening meal.
  • The soil box reappeared in the sanctuary on Ash Wednesday. It contained some living plants, some decaying ones, and bare soil. Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 took on a deeper meaning because we could hear it with our hands in the soil. “For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other…. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.”

The soil box was in the sanctuary again after Easter when we explored how earthworms can help us understand the work of resurrection.

When God made something in God’s image, God chose to start with soil. Soil is our source of life, and out of gratitude to God for this amazing gift, we need to make room for it in our sanctuaries. This is how we spent time with soil at College Mennonite. I encourage you to find ways to attend to this source of life that make sense for your congregation.

Daniel Yoder is pastor of Christian formation at College Mennonite Church, Goshen, Ind.

soil box for use in children's times