Blooming Where We Are Planted

Blooming Where We Are Planted


Rev. Nina J. Schmid serves the First Congregational Church of South Windsor, CT

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:1; 4-7 (NRSV)

Jer 1: These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
4-7: Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.


Reflection: Blooming Where We Are Planted


Once upon a time, I was a student at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO. My third year, I was enthusiastically looking forward to returning to chaplaincy at the hospital where I spent my first year in that contextual education placement. Shortly before my return, the hospital eliminated the position, leaving me in contextual ed limbo! Drat!
I would be serving St. Peter’s Evangelical Reformed Church/UCC in Granite City, IL, across the mighty Mississippi. Huh? This wasn’t in the plan! Where was God sending me? How would I cope?
The first time I drove into Granite City, St. Peter’s loomed like a wounded watch-tower above the broken pavement and run-down, brick row houses in a cloud of billowing steel-mill smoke. I was downhearted, to put it mildly. Few trees, not much grass; where was the beauty of God’s Creation? I wish I could say my first thought had been, “What wonderful ministry can be done in this foreign land!” Rather, it was more like, “I don’t really want to be here!"
Jeremiah, where were you when I needed you to proclaim to me God’s word of acceptance for that new place, just as you did to the exiled Israelites in Babylon, when they would rather rebel? I wanted to rebel, too! I had to learn to lean-in to that perceived wilderness, make it my home, planting gardens, reaping the fruits of understanding, patience, love, hope, loss and acceptance.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Acceptance – blooming where I was planted, a sentiment supposedly expressed by St. Francis de Sales. Perhaps he got the idea from Jeremiah?
I had patients, but not in hospital beds: St. Peter’s, and all who loved their church. I learned that my work was hospice care for a dying congregation of about twenty-five stalwart souls, once two hundred and fifty mainline Protestants, now full of days, numbering the hours, giving their all to prolong their church’s life as comfortably as possible, yet painfully, the inevitable end in sight.
Once-cheerful Sunday-school rooms, exactly as they had been in their hey-day, sat silently in a ghostly, museum-like array: nursery cribs with pastel quilts, little chairs tucked in, a “Jesus loves you” banner hanging wistfully, toys and stuffed animals waiting patiently for someone to play with them; dusty hymnals in mostly-empty pews, no Coffee Hours; all of it frozen in time; specters of the past.
What St. Peter’s also had in the midst of the death rattle were weekly Saturday breakfasts they sponsored with several local churches for 250 hungry souls; a ‘Wednesday Rocks’ after-school program for a gaggle of about twenty, mostly unchurched kids, couch-surfing teens and others, who swarmed in like bees to honey for sanctuary from difficult home situations, soaking up playtime, lessons, prayers, and meals made by the stalwarts, giving my superlative mentor and me a run for our money every single Wednesday.
Of course, God knew what God was doing with this smug, third-year seminary student, by turning my world upside down, offering me the gift of humility. These experiences changed me forever. Like the Israelites, I had to learn to become a ‘part of,’ to survive – to make the best of what first seemed like a very bad situation before I could even think of going home. Much faith, love and hope were begotten. St. Peter’s taught me to ‘bloom where I was planted.’ I am forever grateful. Thanks be to God!


O Lord of Wisdom and Surprise, allow us to cross-over our self-limiting boundaries, and see the opportunities you set before us. May we seek the welfare of the places you send us, and pray to You on their behalf, leaning-in to bloom where we are planted. Bless all the churches that have gone on before. Amen. 

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~33,000 gun violence deaths in the US this year, including the latest (at this writing) at Roxborough High School in Philadelphia and the King Estate school in East Oakland, CA.
  • For those affected by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For the folks who run to the aid of those experiencing natural disasters and human hatred
  • For the beginning of Autumn and all the colors it brings
  • For new opportunities

 This Week in History:

October 2, 1985 (37 years ago): Actor Rock Hudson, 59, becomes the first major U.S. celebrity to die of complications from AIDS. Hudson’s death raised public awareness of the epidemic, which until that time had been ignored by many in the mainstream as a “gay plague.” [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Nina Schmid

Nina Schmid, minister at First Congregational Church of South Windsor, was ordained at Fishers Island Union Chapel, Fishers Island, NY on October 23, 2016 and is a 2015 Eden Theological Seminary graduate -- as well as a proud grandmother.

October 03, 2022
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