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Autumn Foliage

Gardening and Spiritual Health

With such a “wimpy” winter it’s been hard to hold off starting planting in our gardens. But living in Northern Minnesota one needs to make sure we’re beyond the surprise freezes that can happen. So, Jodel and I wait for Memorial Weekend. Some folks have even suggested waiting for Father’s Day – but that really cramps the length of the growing season. And I’ve got to get into the dirt!

So much of gardening ties into my faith & theology. To begin with, just working in the dirt and being physically connected and interacting with God’s creation is renewing for my mental and spiritual health. But here are three aspects of gardening that are touchstones of my relationship with God.

  1. The seeds. All potential within just a little seed is amazing! Left by itself – nothing. But if you place it in the nurturing and nutrient rich soil, it becomes something completely new. It doesn’t even look like it’s old self! Scripture tells us that we become a new being in Christ. “The old is passed away. The new is come.” When we place ourselves within the loving, nurturing, and blessing richness of a relationship with Christ we become a fully new person! Rooted firmly in a relationship with God we “Grow toward the light of Christ. As the stem looks nothing like the seed, so our new self takes on a whole new “Look” of Abundant Life! The potential of the seed begins to release itself into a living plant. In like manner, the potential of oneself releases in the nurture of God’s love and we begin to see new life in ourselves.

  2.  As with a plant, Jesus tells us that our purpose is to “bear Fruit”. Nothing like picking ripe tomatoes from a garden! All the vitamins and nutrition of the plant is in its fruit! As we grow in Christ, we bear the fruit of Love and Justice, of Holiness and God’s Righteousness. All the basic “Building blocks” of the Kingdom of God are there within our lives as we bear the fruit of the Risen Christ within us! But if the fruit just hangs on the plant it will rot. We need to allow God to use us and the fruit of our lives for the work of God’s purposes in the world. But look again in the fruit...seeds! It’s not about us. The potential for the future of the movement of God through Jesus the Christ is there in the fruit we bear. It goes past, beyond our lives. Remember when we celebrated burning the church’s mortgage? On that Sunday we spoke of those who came before us and how what we were doing was only possible because of what God had done in the lives of faithful folks before us. Then we spoke on how that day was also very much about our future – the generations following Christ after us. The seeds in the fruit are the future. As we open ourselves to the nurturing power of resurrection, our “fruit” carries the seeds of possibility for the new things God will be doing in both our future and the future which extends beyond our lives.

  3. Weeds! Oy, the bane of gardening. To have a productive and healthy garden you need to keep the weeds out. How true in our lives also. Weeds are the sin, brokenness, destructive habits & choices we make. The worst choice you can make about weeding is letting it go. The best and easiest way to weed is to get after it each day. Then there are fewer weeds and they’re not established well in the soil and pull out with the least amount of effort. The same is true in our lives. In dealing with “un fun” stuff we all find ourselves procrastinating. We need to daily confess ourselves to God, addressing our sin and brokenness. In daily availing our- selves to God’s forgiveness we don’t allow sin to gain much of a foothold in our lives and we will find it much easier to overcome it.

As we move into this season of summer and gardening, may you discover or avail yourself more and more of God’s nurturing presence. May you bear the fruit of resurrection and experience new life in Jesus, the Christ. And may you see the old self, giving way to new growth and new life in the Spirit of the Living God!

Be God’s, Pastor Jim

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