Tonight we will bless the Community Gardens that are a ministry of Bethany. I pondered how many gardens could name in the Bible, so I did a word search on “garden.” Indeed most of us probably know about the Garden of Eden, perhaps the garden of Naboth lusted after by King Ahab, husband of Jezebel, and thirdly the Garden of Gethsemane. Major dramas unfolded in each of these gardens. Interestingly, “garden” is most referenced in Song of Solomon as love and relationship is compared to the joy of a wonderful garden. It is not trampled by the public but a place of privacy and restoration, peace, fragrance, tasty, spicy – perhaps we use the word renewal and revival. For many the joy of working in the garden, outside, away from work and worry brings renewal. Personal blessing. Isaiah talks about the restoration of Israel like a garden that gradually grows and matures and produces goods that feed many. Bethany’s garden produced 4000 (I think) pounds of food for food shelves. Even before we bless it tonight, plants are growing in-spite of Covid and our sheltering. I think there is a whole sermon on that! Jeremiah uses the garden as a symbol of settling as he tells the Israelites to plant gardens in Babylon and bless neighbors as their exile will be for a time. Gardens are not a “drive through” experience. Gardens are also places of final rest for kings in the Bible. Cities are seen like gardens planted along a river. Pulling all this together, gardens are places of blessing but it takes time, patience, and perseverance. Each of us is like a plant in God’s garden, special, fragrant, perhaps spicy. I pray that as we grow today, we will be a source of renewal and rest to others, a person with whom others find peace and joy, and that ultimately we will point others to the God who’s sun, rain, and seasons blesses and grows us. Maybe I’ll see you tonight. Blessings.
“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. “ (Genesis 1:11,12)