Over the holidays I hosted one of my oldest friends, who had come to visit me from PNG. During that time, she led me in a garden blitz which then extended to some of the church garden areas. As we worked and talked, I realised why Jesus loved to use the garden allegories in His teaching. So, here’s what I learned –
1. Pray first — My friend told me that the greatest discovery they made in her home area was that Jesus was the “Boss” of creation, and hence the garden. Where previously the tribe had engaged in rituals to appease the forest spirits before planting, now they knew from the many bible stories that not only did Jesus create the plants, but also that He defeated malignant spirits. So it is only right and proper to pray first, especially when working on His gardens here in Edge Hill. And we did.
2. Get rid of the dead stuff — I am reliably informed that I can’t expect new growth unless I get rid of the dead stuff. Thus, we spent an amount of time, sitting on the ground, hand-picking out all the dead growth, cleaning up fallen stems and leaves, and creating a “place clear” under the plants. Tedious but necessary.
3. Sometimes leaves that are imperfect can still function — I was then guided as we snipped the sunburnt ends from many leaves because they were still mostly good, and could “do their work” (i.e., Provide food for the plant).
4. However, sometimes you have to get rid of apparently good stuff to make room for the new growth — Finally, I was instructed to create space for new growth by thinning out the current growth. “It might look good”, I was told, “but if you keep everything then the new stuff is stifled (my word) and the whole plant gets old at the same time.” So, we made space for new growth.
I don’t think we need to be spiritual geniuses to link the gardening lesson to our spiritual lives, and the work of the church. The lessons are the same —
- Pray first
- Get rid of the dead stuff
- Know that imperfect people can contribute
- Intentionally make room for new growth
May we all care for the garden of our souls and the garden of TGS with such intentionality.
Kristin (Ministry Unit Councillor)