Today is the 110th annual World Day of Prayer. Each year women from one of the 170 participating countries write the service. Korea was chosen for this year. Because there has not yet been a conflict resolution between North and South Korea, the women of South Korea have prepared the program.
They selected the theme "Like a Seed Which Grows Into a Tree." The service includes parables of Jesus Christ that involve seeds. Also included is the prophet Hosea's plea from the Bible "Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap the fruit of steadfast love; break up your fallow ground," as the New Revised Standard Version, adapted, has it (Hosea 10:12).
The South Korean women have defined as "old soil" in their country militarism, materialism, imperialism, selfishness, and pride. They are giving special attention to addressing a history of sexual slavery and discrimination. And they assert that the soil must be plowed up in order for the new soil of reunification of Korea to appear.
Prior to sowing seed, soil preparation is important; bringing plants to fruition requires the establishment of a fertile growing environment. So it is when the Word of God is sown in one's heart. Those receptive to spiritual ideas are most ready to accept this Word.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church, referred to Jesus' parable of the sower who sowed good seed that grew according to its environment. Her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures says: "The spiritual sense of truth must be gained before Truth can be understood. This sense is assimilated only as we are honest, unselfish, loving, and meek. In the soil of an 'honest and good heart' the seed must be sown; else it beareth not much fruit, for the swinish element in human nature uproots it" (p. 272).
Spiritual development involves examining one's moment-to-moment thoughts, motives, and aspirations. If our hope is merely to live more comfortably, the soil is not well prepared. But if we earnestly desire to be more charitable in our actions, to express the gentle strength of unselfishness and the moral courage to uphold the God-given rights of each of God's sons and daughters, growth is inevitable.
The power of good, unselfish ideas that are based on love for God can eventually abolish oppression and tyranny. Truth's transforming ability lies in divine power, and thus does not depend on physical strength. Conversely, human bondage of any type has no law of God to sustain it and must cease.
How a heartfelt action can grow into a mighty movement is shown in the life of the American woman Rosa L. Parks, a black seamstress who refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. This sparked the civil rights movement in the United States. In her book Quiet Strength, Mrs. Parks, a lifelong member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, says: "I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face. God did away with all my fear. It was time for someone to stand up-or in my case, sit down. I refused to move" ("The 'Quiet Strength' of Rosa Parks" by David Holmstrom, The Christian Science Monitor, January 13, 1995).
Moral courage-the courage to stand up for what is good and right-dispels fear, challenging the false belief that evil has any true power. Much remains to be done, obviously, to achieve complete freedom for the world's peoples. But as individuals acknowledge that the only legitimate authority governing anyone comes from God, who is divine Principle, our God-given liberty becomes increasingly evident.
Jesus' orderly, patient method of teaching and healing is applicable to the ending of injustices in all nations. Individual spiritual growth must occur. It prepares the heart to receive the seed of Truth. Each one of us can undergo spiritual transformation, following Jesus' teachings and example. He taught and expressed humility, self-forgetfulness, purity, love for humanity. Paul later told the Christian church at Galatia, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Galatians 5:22, 23). In this mental environment the truth is understood, allowing seeds of good to grow to fruition.