Devotional for July 7, 2013 –Hands on Theology: Plants and Gardens


Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background

There are many who ask me if I am going somewhere far away this summer.  And my reply is always the same, “why would I want to leave Oregon in the summer?”  The weather is just right.  The green is still around us and my garden is thriving.  Every day I spend a little time in the garden during this time of year.  I am pulling out lettuce and carrots and planting other things to get ready for the fall. I am watching the squash plants reach out in all directions. In July, the corn is supposed to be knee high (isn’t that how the saying goes?)

When I am in the garden, the world drifts away a bit and I focus in on what weed needs to be pulled and what veggies need to be cultivated. I can process my own stuff while I am in the dirt.   It is a miracle for me that plants grow.  They grow out of whatever is around.  Plants have a life of their own and work with what God has given around them.  The garden represents conviviality, life, and growth.

Our Psalmist knows that what God has given us is good. Our writer asks us to make a joyful noise for it all.  God is good because of what God has created around us.  God is no stranger to gardening, remember Genesis?  God gives a garden and calls it good.  The Psalmist reminds us of this goodness in our reading.

In the Gospel lesson, Jesus sends out the disciples and tells them to eat what is placed before them. The harvest of people is good but so is the harvest of what will be provided. They are to live off of hospitality and what the land feeds them. Where would we be if we didn’t grow food around us? Would we hospitable? Would we even know what the land can provide? Jesus tells them that when they receive such hospitality they will bless the home that they have visited.  What if we also blessed the land that has so graciously received us? Is there a way to give back to the gardens and plants for what we have received?

This week our “hands on” activity will be to have a garden day out at Parkview. There will be things to do in the community garden. There will be activities to learn about plants.  There will be opportunities to commune with the land and to give back to the land.  There will be space for dreaming of other ways to garden. Come and enjoy!

Quotes for the Week                                                                                                                                         “Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes.”  ― Clare Ansberry 

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”  ― Wendell Berry

“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.” ― Michael Pollan    

“Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.” ― Thomas Jefferson   

“The best place to find God is in the garden. You can dig for him there.” – George Bernard Shaw

Your first job is to prepare the soil. The best tool for this is your neighbor’s garden tiller. If your neighbor does not own a garden tiller, suggest that he buy one.” – Dave Barry                                                                                                                          

Psalm 66:1-9 (NRSV)                                                                                                                                            Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;                                                                                                      sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise.
Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you;
they sing praises to you,
sing praises to your name.  Selah

Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
   who rules by his might for ever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let the rebellious not exalt themselves.  Selah

Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,                                                                                                                who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.

Luke 10:1-11 (NRSV)                                                                                                                                  After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”

Questions for the Week    

Do you garden? Why do you garden?

Is God in the plants and gardens?

How can we  better use our natural spaces to honor God?


About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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