A reflection on the readings for Trinity Sunday with a Baptism....
Over the last couple of weeks I have spent every spare moment gardening. I planted my vegetable garden. I worked with other parishioners to plant the ground cover in our new pet memorial garden. We also planted flowers in the planters around the labyrinth. I weeded the front and side yards of the Rectory. I pulled out dozens of maple tree saplings that popped up like popcorn. I pulled up clover and a lot of grass growing into the landscaped beds.
Despite the fact that the last two nights of frost may have killed off my newly planted basil, zucchini and cucumbers, overall I think plants are incredible hardy – most of the new planting survived! Plants are seemingly careless in their abundance, prolific in their wild abandoned state, plants of all kinds grow anywhere there is a little soil, water, and sun.
This time of year, all over the deck in the backyard of the rectory, are maple seeds. When I was a child we called these whirly-birds. So many seeds, scattered about the yard, in window sills, tracked in the house on shoes, and all over the roof. I have even seen squirrels eating these maple seed whirly-birds.
Despite their prolific nature the future of a seed is unknown –a seed might take root and grow into one of those saplings I pulled up, or become a beautiful flower, plant, or tree – or it might die for lack of nutrients or be eaten by a bird or squirrel.
In some ways, baptism is like the maple trees in my yard, producing many seeds, some of which end up scattered about, wind blown, and abandoned as people lose track of their faith. But many seeds take root and bear life—some even become new trees that shade our homes and streets. Trees bring great beauty to our world and afford us comfort from the sun, comfort from the strife and challenges of life. So to with baptism – baptism plants in us the wild seeds of God’s love and grace. God’s love, planted in us in a particular way at baptism, affords us the potential to grow into the fullness of what God desires for us. God’s grace can bring out our most beautiful nature and through knowing the depth of God’s love in our lives, we become a people of love, scattering love far and wide.
This is the story of our baptism as well – we are, were, baptized into God’s love in Jesus. After baptism, our entire life becomes the overflow of those baptismal waters, which is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and pouring forth of God’s love. Baptism is how we plant our lives to the life of Jesus and baptism is how we sprout seeds of new life, of God’s love, in others.
Sometimes I think of God as a gardener taking pride in her garden. And, like any passionate gardener all God can think about and talk about is her garden. I know people like that. The first thing they want to show any visitor to their house is the garden—what plant was about to sprout, what she or he is going to plant in a new bed. I hope all of you will wander out behind the church and see our vegetable garden and walk the labyrinth or sit in one of the benches and appreciate the beauty. Take it in with deep appreciation, and offer prayers for the saints who have gone before, whose memorial gifts have enabled us to have this beauty place of prayer.
You can only begin to understand people like this, avid gardeners, once you let them show you their garden. People like this don’t make sense without their plants and seeds and greenhouse and their struggle against the weeds.
This time of year causes me to think that God is like a master gardener—not an amateur gardener like me who for a season spends a few hours planting flowers, putting vegetables in the ground and weeding. Unlike me, God’s life is dedicated year round, day in and day out to gardening. The gardener and the garden are intimately involved in one another. God in us and we in God. You can’t have one without the other. The garden displays the nurturing love and care of the gardener, the gardener devotes her time and energy to tending to her garden.
That’s the good news. God is a gardener who is always sowing new life into the world, into our lives. On this Trinity Sunday we are reminded that God is a God of relationship. For Christians we know God as a being in relationship with God’s self, with creation, with us. God is a being who expresses God’s self as God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. God the creator, Jesus who redeems the creation with love, and the Holy Spirit who enables the love to live on through the ages, love acting in and through us.
When we are baptized our lives take root in the life of Jesus and in his baptism. The baptism of Jesus is like a seed that takes root in our baptism enabling us to grow in faith, grow as Christians, to sprout seeds and spread God’s love and live our lives loving others as God loves. Through baptism we become the gardener of our lives.
Today we have come to baptize M and I. We have come here like gardeners, to root their lives in the rich soil of God’s love. We have come to anoint them with the waters of life and thus plant in them the seeds of the Holy Spirit. May the fruit of this day flower in them all the days of their lives.