The dandelion and the Sermon

IMG_0345The Goshen Mennonite Church cancelled its Sunday School classes in order to accommodate the Goshen College Baccalaureate service. (Church and college share the same campus.)  I chose to join the baccalaureate service because I wanted to hear President James Brenneman’s sermon.

The motto of the graduating class was “Rooted in Love, Bursting Fourth”  symbolized by the common dandelion.


dandelions in back yard reaching for the sun

I’m sure the class researched and debated before agreeing on the symbol, but not much was said about the fact that it is a worldwide noxious weed that is edible and recognized as an herbal diuretic.  I am familiar with the dandelion’s flower, perhaps it is the first flower of my memory. And I remember that my mother knew that the early spring leaves of the dandelion plant could serve as a nutritious salad, totally unappreciated by her son.

This morning I learned that “the tap root breaks up hardened soil and brings up nutrients from deep down, benefiting plants with weaker or shallower roots without competing with them.” The graduates cautiously believed that they were ready to “burst forth”, but they boldly confessed that at Goshen College they had been “rooted in love.”  The Muslim who studied art, religion, and the Bible, said that he would always remember being rooting in love.

dandelion growing between concrete blocks

dandelion growing between concrete blocks

The first hymn of the service was No. 6 of the Hymnal Worship Book, “Here in this place.”  The last verse says,”Not in the dark of buildings confining, not in some heaven light years away, but here in this place the new light is shining, now is the Kingdom, now is the day.”

The title of Brenneman’s sermon was “Love in the Clouds of Unknowing.” Ephesians 3:16 – 19 was the text. His entree to graduates focused on being and becoming a “know it all” gift to society.  To display a “know it all” attitude can be annoying, yet the desire to “know it all” is good, said the president.

The second half of the sermon focused on the text: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.  This text is worth sermonizing, and your pondering.  The sermon was masterful.

Dandelion among the tulips in our front yard

Dandelion among the tulips in our front yard

A senior vocal ensemble with cello quartet sang a song composed by seniors that applauded, “The seed that lands on fertile ground takes root and starts to grow .. . .  Deep roots give life to brilliant buds that open toward the light.  And soon new seeds will meet warm winds and take the risk of flight.”

The sending hymn was No. 427 in the Hymnal Worship Book:  “You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace.  The mountains and the hills will break forth before you.  There”ll be shouts of joy and all the trees of the field will clap, will clap their hands.”

That poetry was worthy of the ocassion.

If you have graduates in your family you may introduce them to

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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