[#pictureAdvent] December 12: GARDEN

08 Dec 10 Water-01.jpg

By Rev. Dr. Tanya Marie Eustace Campen  
Rio Texas Conference, United Methodist Church

San Antonio, TX

First, read Isaiah 61:8-11

When I was in seminary I spent an entire summer uprooting, weeding, tilling, and re-seeding my small plot of grass outside my seminary home. I committed to this summer project as a distraction from my Greek coursework and as an excuse to get outside at least once a day. This was not a small project and required many tools, supplies, and effort. My goal was to kill off the weeds, lay new soil, and plant new grass. In my mind, I had to destroy everything in order to bring new life.

One month into the project I planted my first flowers- tulips and calla lilies. Each day I would walk towards my home after class and smile as I saw the bright colors and the newly tilled yard greet me. A few days later I awoke and headed out to water the garden. Much to my surprise the tops of the flowers were gone! It was clear that some animal had come in the night and eaten my flowers, robbing me of their beauty, and the joy that came from their presence. I was frustrated and annoyed. I spent the entire day wondering: “what can I plant that will not get eaten?” “How can I keep those pesky critters away?” “Is it even worth the time and energy to try to keep this garden alive?

My three-month gardening project helped me realize the hard work, the frustration, and the joy that comes from seeing new life grow around us. With a bit of earth, seeds, water, good soil, and the proper love and care there are persons who can make a garden not only grow- but thrive. While this is not my gift, I am grateful for those who garden and help nurture God’s beautiful creation. Seeing the beauty of the garden gives us cause to rejoice and to give thanks for the hands who lovingly care for the plants and for the creator who imagined it all and gives it life.

In this winter season, many of us may live in a climate where there seems to be more darkness than sunlight, bare trees where there once were blooms, or brown and dry grass where there once was a lush, soft, and green place to rest. It is in this time that we hold fast to God’s promise in Isaiah. God promises life even when the garden seems bare and empty.  In the winter months, we can find joy knowing that God does not destroy us to encourage us to grow, nor does God leave us when others rob us of joy and life. Instead, God provides so that we will grow and thrive.

Our work is to till and care for the garden, to share the fruits of our labor with others, and to work to ensure all persons have access to the resources they need to live. This advent, may we find ways to rejoice in God’s goodness as we share the resources God provides with others.  

Short Prayer: Most gracious God, you are the good and faithful gardener. We give you thanks for all that you have given us. Thank-you for the seeds you plant helping us grow and thrive. Help us remember that all good gifts come from you. Give us generous hearts as we find ways to share the fruits of your garden with others. It is in your holy name that we pray, Amen

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. What seeds has God planted in your life?

  2. What work did you do to help them grow?

  3. How can you share the fruits of God’s garden with others?