The Lord Planted a Garden in the East: Spirituality & Gardens, Part III

In a series of blog posts, several of us will be exploring the question of why a community garden makes good sense for a church, and I’ll be leading us off with a series of three posts looking at what I’m calling the “spiritual theology of gardening.” Here is Part I and Part 2. In today’s third and final post, I want to explore how a community garden can deepen and broaden our love for and knowledge of our community.

The Lord Planted a Garden in the East

The church planted a garden on the east side of the property. In that fertile land, the Lord God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit[1]

Our church, I deeply believe, has a missional heart. I see this anytime we have someone come share about work they are doing for vulnerable populations, whether in our own community or globally, and the generosity that always pours out from our church to supporting those various missions. I also see this with the large number of attendees we have who volunteer their time at places like Fishline, MWEEP, Coffee Oasis, Kitsap Homes of Compassion and Salvation Army among others. But I’ve always wrestled with ways we can serve our larger community together as a church. Incarnationally. It’s good to write checks to support service organizations which are already on the ground working, rather than needing to always blaze our own trail. But if our primary missional outreach as a church is writing checks, there is a danger of approaching Gnosticism, not serving together incarnationally.

Our garden is designed to be missional, a way we can serve and love our community. One of our elders, Dr. Gwen Dewey loves to quote a good reminder for the church: if this church were to closer its doors for good tomorrow, would the community even notice we had? As Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously put it, “The church is the church only when it exists for others.” As David and Stephanie Sweeney will share more about with our church, there is need for good, healthy food in our community, especially for vulnerable populations. The garden will be a way we can love our community by serving incarnationally together.

And so, to bring my three-part post to a close: I hope that in our garden we will gain a richer understanding of the words of scripture, written by people who were no more dependent on health of the land than we are today, but who were certainly far more aware of it than we are today (Leviticus 25:1-4). I also hope that we will broaden and deepen our spirituality, to see that growing food is a religious activity because it is one in which we are invited to collaborate with God, to work the land, to till the soil, and to be in awe of the mystery of our reliance on the creator who continues to bring light and rain and snow from heaven, watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, bringing nourishment and life out of dark soil. One of us may build the fence and the raised bed, another of us may plant and another may water but it is God who makes it to grow. Creator and creature co-laboring. And finally, a community garden will, I hope, deepen and broaden our love for and knowledge of our community.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. 

Don’t forget to come to our Community Garden informational meeting after worship on Sunday 7/11!

In tomorrow’s post Ty Whitman will share about something every gardener knows well: patience!


[1] See Genesis 2:8-9

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