Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gardeners of Love

A reflection for Easter Year B

A group of scientists decided that humankind had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they chose one scientist to go and tell God that they were through with God.

The scientist said, "We've advanced to where we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so we've decided that we no longer need you."

God listened patiently, then replied: "Very well. Then let's have a human-making contest."

"Good idea," the scientist said.

"But," God said, "we'll do it just like I did back in the good old days with Adam and Eve."

"No problem," the scientist said, bending down and grabbing a handful of dirt.

"No,” God said, “First you go make your own dirt!"

-- Joyful Noiseletter, 2-2000, p. 2, "The Lord''s Laughter," George Goldtrap.

I have lived in a lot of places and in each of those places I have planted gardens or at the very least tended to flowers already planted in the garden. The one thing each of those places have had in common is poor soil. Rocky soil, clay soil, overused soil, all needing some loving care to enable that soil to support anything but weeds. We have tilled the soil, added, organic matter like compost and peat, enriched it over time with fertilizers, aerated the soil, and checked the drainage.

Here in Arizona my husband and I have a couple of dwarf fruit trees that we want to transplant from pots to the ground, so we have been reading up on how to do this. Once day recently Dan began the process of preparing to transplant these trees by digging the lines to extend the drip system over to where we want to plant the trees. He dug for two hours and barely made a dent in the area he needs to dig. His only comment, “Well, it’s probably not a good idea to try and dig a hole on the side of a mountain.” Living on a foothill of the Santa Rita’s makes the “soil” in our backyard some of the worst we’ve encountered.

Curiously enough though, this hard, sandy, awful soil, is actually just what a citrus tree needs. The guidelines I’ve read have advised us to NOT add organic matter to the soil in the hole for a fruit tree – no compost, no fresh nutritious soil, nope just plop it into a shallow hole and let the roots spread out in the hard sandy earth. So, one of these days, when we get the hole dug for the tree and the drip system lines dug we’ll plant these trees into the earth.

While my husband and I enjoy a little bit of gardening now and then I wouldn’t call us gardeners. In our Gospel reading this morning Mary encounters someone she thinks is a gardener. She has come looking for the body of Jesus and finding the tomb empty she speaks to a man standing nearby, a man who, as it turns out is not the gardener, but the Risen Christ.

Today, Easter, is a celebration of God; of the wonderful actions of God in creation: of life and new life. And we embrace this celebration with all the best we can offer, symbolized by the abundance of these glorious flowers, and the fabulous music from our choir and bell choir. Easter concludes our Lenten journey with Christ, bringing us from life to new life.

In Holy Week we are invited to suspend our awareness of how the story ends and enter the journey and walk with Christ directly into the Good News.

Walking with Christ becomes a journey for us, for we are spiritual pilgrims. For example in Celtic spirituality one can imagine this journey as a trip to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a remote tidal island off the north east coast of England. When the tide is in this island is far from land, surrounded by water and seemingly isolated. But when the tide is out one can walk a narrow path from the main land to the island over slippery rocks.

A friend of mine once took this walk. As a child she was always taught to wear shoes, never go bare foot for fear of hurting her feet. But for this journey across the rocks to Lindisfarne she took off her shoes and walked in her bare feet.

Slippery and cold.

And yet very mystical as she imagined all the feet that have traveled this same journey of faith.

Walking carefully, one foot in front of the other;
and yet with a sense of abandon –
bare feet grounded her and at the same time enabled her to be more free and open to the experience, more able to really feel.

Then she slipped and stubbed her toe.

Her first inclination was to scold herself for being foolish,
then she realized that that too is part of our faith journey,
we all stumble at times. And so she continued, barefoot….

The risen Christ may not have been the gardener that Mary thought he was when she encountered him that Easter morning. But he is the gardener of our lives. Coming to us again in the resurrection, the Risen Christ is for us the reality of all that God desires for us –When our journey with Christ through Lent and into Easter has been rocky, hard, untenable, God comes to us anew in Easter and tenderly loves us.

Whether our journey with Christ through Lent and into Easter has been dry like sand or thick like clay, God comes to us anew in Easter and loves us with open arms. When our journey with Christ through Lent and into Easter has been cold and slippery, God comes to us anew in Easter and sustains us with a love that is firm and warm. Regardless of whether our journey has been easy or whether we have stumbled and fallen, God comes to us anew on Easter and loves us whole again.

Walking with Christ into the Good News is not an intellectual exercise; it is an emotional process wherein we become the Body of Christ, because the truth is we do need God. In turn, God has chosen us, the people of creation, to become the face of Christ, the living hands and heart of God - and like gardeners of God’s creation, bearing forth God’s healing love in a broken world.


Teri said...

nice! I like the gardener-of-our-lives image.

Purple said...

Thank you...your gift with words is so amazing. Have a blessed Easter.

Barbara B. said...

I love this! (And the opening made me smile!) :)

Jan said...

Thank you. Happy Easter.

RevDrKate said...

Beautiful sermon. Happy Easter. Thanks also for the "What I would have preached on Good Friday." Very powerful.

Funky Grampa said...

I loved the "let's begin with the dirt" story.

The whole concept of Easter as hope dying that transformation can begin is so needed in our current zeitgeist.

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