eCare - The Gardener and/in Me

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eCare - The Gardener and/in Me

Dear Friends in Christ,


                In an eCare I sent to you about a month ago I mentioned how, sometimes, I am led in my devotional thinking by hymns.  Over the course of many years during which I have written the texts for a number of hymns I have learned from my collaborator, an experienced composer of a large catalog of hymn tunes, the characteristics of a good hymn.  Some of those traits are (1) the text is theologically sound, (2) the tune is singable, (3) the church finds it helpful in its worship of God.


                As is the case with much contemporary “worship” songs, so it is with traditional hymns…there is a lot of junk out there.  Being found in a hymnbook is no guarantee that the hymn/song meets the most basic criteria I mentioned above.  However, O Worship the King, in my opinion, makes the cut and I often find myself meditating upon its lyrics.


                I know that this is the very height of hubris but, to return to the thoughts of that last eCare bear with me as I quote myself (I already hear your sighs and I haven’t event sent this to you yet!!):


So, now think about this:  to what extent can my life be a powerful and effective testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ when I, in relationship to others, exhibit the divine roles of Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend?  To suggest such a possibility – isn’t that blasphemy, i.e. attributing to ourselves the characteristics and prerogatives that belong only to God?!  We are treading on hallowed ground here and we must walk gently and carefully but it’s worth thinking about.


Last Monday morning I was playing the role of my Lord, the Maker, in front of my house and two people stopped and commented (positively, I might add) on what I was doing and what I had accomplished.  Did they see Jesus in my work as a “maker” as Jonas saw Jesus in our team’s work as “friend?”  Could be…I think so.


                I spend a great deal of time on my knees…sometimes I am even praying, you may be happy to know!  Much of the time I am working in my garden, sometimes pruning, planting or dead-heading – most times I am weeding.  Though the kneeling is getting rougher and rougher on my knees as I get older and the getting down is a great deal easier than the getting up I still find great pleasure in being down on the ground.  I enjoy a strangely wonderful sense of the Lord’s presence and pleasure in those times when I am on my knees and doing the work that my Maker has ordained me to do – co-laboring with Him in carrying out His wishes that the creation He made shows forth His glory.


                Some people sense the presence of God as they view a beautiful sunset and some while standing on the beach before the vastness of an ocean; still others as they gaze upon “the purple mountains’ majesty.”  For me it is down on my knees digging in the dirt.  I’ve wondered about that for quite some time but just recently, while reading a book written by a Duke Divinity School theologian, Norman Wirzba (From Nature to Creation:  A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2015) I gained what might be an important insight.  Wirzba wrote:


From Scripture’s beginning to its end we find God as the one who constantly desires to live intimately with us here on earth.  God is not aloof, disinterested, or far removed from this world.  In Genesis we first discover God with knees and hands in the dirt, breathing into soil the breath of life that creates you and me, along with all the plants and animals and birds.  God is a Gardener who loves soil and delights in fertility (the emphasis is mine).


                That’s it!! I sense the presence of God while kneeling in the garden because I am adopting the posture of God and the work of God.  God is a garden-Maker and so am I.  God brings good things to life from the soil and I, in His stead, attempt to nurture the life that is growing in the soil, all for the purpose of bringing Him greater glory.


                So, going back to the walkers who, a couple of weeks ago, stopped and commented how much they enjoyed my garden – though they enjoyed the flowers as a consumer of God’s beauty I, on the other hand, enjoy the garden as a co-creator with God, my Maker.


                Now I wonder…does the posture of God I assume when in my garden point beyond me to the Creator of the universe?  Can, does, will the Holy Spirit transform the sight of a pastor-gardener in the eyes of a bystander into a vision of the Gardener-Creator who made them, loves them, calls them to love Him and worship Him and enjoy His presence forevermore?


He (Christ) was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him and without Him was not made anything that was made.  In Him was life and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1. 2-5).


                Don’t forget that we are following our summer schedule in August so we will meet as one worshiping congregation this Sunday for Beverly Heights Together at 10 AM.  As usual for this time of year it will be warm in the sanctuary so please dress comfortably.  I’ll be preaching the fourth sermon in our series Jesus’ Greatest Hits by speaking about “The Great Provision” and there will be blueberry scones on the south lawn for Linger Longer…how can you beat that lineup?!


                Blessings be upon each and every one of you as you finish your work week with the presence, strength and joy of the Lord.  ‘Hope to see you on the Lord’s Day.


Faithfully in Him,