Time to Bloom

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 1 Corinthians 12:18 ESV

Once we were edging and weeding several hundred feet of perennial beds on a large estate, in preparation for the owner’s weekend visit. On the crew that day, we had a new employee named Waldemar. So as not to overtax him, I started Waldemar on a stretch of the bed which only needed some light weeding. After working on the other side of the house for an hour, I came back to check on my new friend and found to my dismay that he had not only pulled out every single weed, but he had also taken out all the primroses which were just beginning to pop out of the ground. “Waldemar, where are the flowers?” I asked. My poor friend stopped what he was doing and glanced back along the empty bed with a bewildered look.

“Just because they aren’t blooming yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t flowers.” I explained

Looking back, I can see that I should have spent more time training and I had forgotten how many years it took for me to learn which were the weeds and which the flowers. The church is a lot like that perennial garden. Just as in today’s verse, God has planted each of us where He designed and each of us blooms in our own season. While we are just beginning to grow, we might not look much different than the weeds. So, let’s be careful this week in how we treat others. Every part of God’s garden has something growing, and even flowers that have finished blooming still have value. Some older plants with only green leaves give a nice backdrop to the younger blossoms that are just opening. Others, even with only wilted tops, give quiet example as they simply rest, knowing that surely one day it will be Springtime again!

I hope you like today’s video that tells the story as well as includes the hymn “In the Garden” (It’s my favorite!) I was so blessed to have a new volunteer come along with me this week to visit my Thursday morning memory care friends.

Meeting Jesus In the Garden

Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. John 20:14 ESV

Did you know that in the old hymn, “In the Garden” the place which Austin Miles wrote of was not just some bed of roses, but rather the garden where Jesus rose. Though many dismiss the lyrics as overly sentimental, I find that, the words “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own,” actually outline the three elements of communion.

There are many parts of a worship service, but the most important, is neither the singing nor the preaching but rather the presence of Jesus. Jesus has kept His church alive for 2,000 years and He comes most clearly to meet us in the communion. As the lyrics say, “And He walks with me.” Jesus died and rose again and in that moment He walked once again in the garden with Mary. He came while she was alone, weeping and looking for Him. Next the lyrics say, “And He talks with me.” For two thousand years, Jesus has been speaking. “This is my body which is given for you.” and “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.” echo down through time, Every time we receive them, we hear His voice again.

Lastly, Mary falls down to worship. The Bible tells us that at the end of the Last Supper, Jesus sang a hymn with His friends. Just as Mary bowed and the disciples sang, there is a joy filled pause after we have received the bread and the cup. They remind us again that “the joy we share as we tarry there, none other, has ever known!”  

The Gardener of Our Hearts

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. Genesis 2:8 ESV

What is a garden? Is it defined by rows of roses and peonies; or is it painted on canvas by the brushstrokes of pathways and fountains? The first garden we learn of was filled with all kinds of fruit trees, and the scriptures tell us that God planted it in Eden. Having spent more hours on my knees pulling weeds than kneeling at the altar in church I have learned that the secret of a garden’s beauty lies as much in the walls that surround it and the spaces between the flowers as in any blossom or leaf. Those boundaries say clearly, “This is my garden and that is the field.” Or “The primroses marching across the flower bed are lovely, but they must be pulled out in places, or they will overrun the foxglove and hollyhock. In his poem, “The Mending Wall” Robert Frost wrote, “Good fence make good neighbors.”. Though Frost himself was not in favor of boundaries, his neighbor was, and I have learned that God is also. God is the gardener of our hearts and the one in charge of order. He sets our limits, prunes our overgrowth and transplants us from time to time when He chooses. Like Jeremiah’s image of the potter and clay, we are all in the hands of the Master Gardener of the universe. It will not help us to whine about the gardening He is doing in us today. We must not only trust in His spiritual gardening skills, but we might want to spend some extra time on our knees next to Him in our garden bed of prayer!