Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion April 18, 2018


Worms. Think much about worms? When is the last time you thought about worms? Maybe never? Maybe when you were planning your fishing trip? Other than fishing worms don’t come up much in conversation. Worms are sort of there and pretty much don’t impact our lives much at all.
But thinking about fishing I use to go dig worms with my grandfather to go fishing and I thought they were fascinating which wasn’t the norm for little girls because most of the little girls I knew would squeal and back up when confronted with a dug up earthworm - although I know of a few little boys who also screwed up their nose and backed off a little when a worm was dangled in front of them. There was a little boy in my neighborhood when I was growing up who would eat a small earthworm just so the rest of us standing around would go “Oh Ick!” and then he would laugh and live to eat another one another day!
I was amazed not so many years ago when I learned that you could go into about any convenience store and buy a container of worms. Buying worms when I had spent so much time with my little spade digging in loose dirt for worms and I would pull one out and my grandfather would say, “Nice One!” In fact those were the first words when the idea of fishing came up - “Let’s go dig some worms!” and we did. The digging almost became as much an adventure as the fishing. We always put the worms in a cottage cheese container - isn't it funny the things your remember.
And then I was even more amazed when I realized that there were people who actually made a living out of raising worms - worm farmers. Really? Growing worms - how is that done? My cynical self has visions of little worm nurseries and as they grow older the babies are taken out of their little cribs and released into a pile of dirt……. Does someone wake up in the morning and say, “I think I’ll become a worm farmer?”
My daughter use to sing a fun children’s song about Herbie the worm but I can’t remember any more about the song other than it was about Herbie the worm. There was a children’s song when I was little which talked about worms playing nic nac on my snout which is kind of a bizarre concept to think about and that is about all I remember about that song as well.
I had a seminary professor who use to talk about worms quite a bit - and your interest is piqued as to why we would be considering worms in seminary? Well, it was my reformation teacher and whenever we got to the topic of Martin Luther he would bring up about how Martin Luther called every one a worm because worms crawl around in the dirt and muck and compared to God so do we. He even brought plastic rubbery worms to class one day and gave one to each of us to really emphasize the point that we were all worms - I have tried to keep it all these years… maybe I’ll look for it to remind myself of that dear professor who really meant a lot to me even though he continually called us all worms which wasn’t really a compliment.
And then there are those really icky worms that built ‘tents’ in your trees…… I use to have nightmares about those wormy things!
Guess all worm talk isn’t about dirt. My daughters had a glow worm when they were young…. Started out with one daughter who had a stint in the emergency room after a fall and with the insertion of some stitches and we bought her a glow worm to comfort her - which was a stuffed animal sort of thing with a battery powered light inside. Well the other daughter was quite upset that she didn’t also get a glow worm so I remember a late evening driving around the city until I found another one so there were two two stuffed glow worms in our house and two happy little girls and an even happier set of parents because they weren’t listening to a grieved child who had not received a glow worm.
So what brought on all this ruminating about worms you ask? It all started after a particularly warm day followed by a pretty good rain. Walking over to the church I began to notice a brigade of worms crawling across the sidewalks of the church. Wonder why the joke about chickens crossing the road doesn’t apply to worms - Why did the worm cross the sidewalk? I truly don’t know but there were quite a number of worms who were traversing the great expanse of the sidewalk. The sidewalk isn’t that wide but I guess for a worm it is a pretty daunting journey.
Anyway, there they were - worms everywhere. I started to call my husband and see if he was thinking about going fishing that day because he truly would not have needed to stop by the convenience store and buy worms!
The great worm migration was early in the morning and when I went out later in the day across the same concrete sidewalk - the worms were still there. But a great tragedy had occurred. What use to be worms were now dried up worm remnants…. It was rather sad even though they were worms.
What was interesting was that for the next several weeks I kept witnessing this same event, worms in the morning and dried worms int he afternoon. I fully admit that there was a part of me that wanted to spend my morning moving all the alive slowly migrating worms back into the soil but I realized that would have been a never ending project and I did have actual tasks to accomplish.
And then yesterday when I took my walk in the afternoon - my usual walk time except for the days when I get highly motivated and walk early in the morning - on the track upon which I walk the worm phenomenon was there as well. Only since it was afternoon it was the worm remnants that were there and it was overwhelming how many worms thad been there. In places the worm left overs were so numerous you couldn’t walk and not tread on left over worms…….
I don’t know whether to be scientifically curious as to this worm happening or to just feel sad for the loss of so many worms.
Sometimes we dry up in our faith just like these worms. We wonder away from the church, from the nurturing presence of our church family, our teachers and our leaders; we wonder away from the place where we have our home in Jesus constantly surrounded by his love and grace. We think we can venture out on our own - we don’t need God’s people to surround us and care for us - we don’t need the petty little snits God’s people get into sometime because we are all just people and while we try we can never get along perfectly.
But even those uncomfortable moments are part of God’s instruction that we can get along and disagree and still share the love of Jesus with one another - that is part of the process.
We venture out on our own - Jesus is with us all the time, isn’t he? - so why do I need the church? I can make it on my own.....
And then our faith begins to dry up, we begin to lose the connection, we are worms stranded in the middle of a warm sidewalk and we don't feel that warm, loving connection quite so much. The things of God begin be become a memory.
God gives us the warm nourishing soil of the church to keep our faith alive and fresh and yes even tested sometimes. But we know if we stay, God will always fill us with the combined spirit of others and it will fill us and warm us and keep us from finding ourselves alone and wondering where God might be. Amen