DeacPost “God’s Garden”

The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:8-9

Paul is writing to the Corinthian community because there have been divisions among the early Christians. Some Christians profess their allegiance to Paul, some to Apollos, and some to Cephas; there was a debate about which Christian leader was the best.

It seems we don’ t have to look far in our own lives to see that struggle in our own churches, families, careers, and sometimes even friendships. I remember growing up in a large city where Christian denominations did not talk with each other. Among Lutherans, the different synods professed to be “the most Lutheran” because they believed they had interpreted Luther’s words correctly.

Frequently the divisions we experience in our own churches today mimic the Corinthians as well. How many of us have heard or said the words, “I came to church because of pastor so and so, or deaconess so and so” or some other person in leadership? Then a discussion ensues over who preached the best, who was the best worship leader, who was greatest because of their care for the sick or how much more this person was filled with the Holy Spirit than that person. The comparisons go on and on. But it doesn’t stop there. Pretty soon we not only compare our leaders, but we start to compare ourselves to others as well. Some of us boast about what we do well and cannot appreciate the gifts of others. And some of us live in despair, believing there is nothing we can contribute to the well-being of the church.

Paul calls the Corinthians and us to remember that we have all been baptized into God’s Kingdom. This Kingdom is like a field, and we are all to be God’s field workers with diaconal hearts. We celebrate diversity; we affirm and give thanks for the tools of others as well as for the tools we have been given.

There is much work to do in this field: God’s soil needs to be prepared so seeds of forgiveness, reconciliation, love, justice and faith can be sown. The crops of compassion need to be watered and nurtured so that everyone can taste of God’s harvest. This feast that we share nourishes and strengthens us to serve others. The feast enables us to welcome the strangers, the foreigners with other traditions and experiences, so they, too, can taste the wheat of new life. We need these “outsiders” to farm beside us, because they also have God-given tools that are needed in God’s garden.

Prayer: O God, you call us to work in your field. Equip us with the tools of forgiveness, encouragement, and acceptance. Help us to be gardeners with you: preparing the soil, planting seeds, watering the crops without competing or comparing ourselves to others. Open our eyes to see the creative and useful tools that others bring to till your garden. Expand our concept of farmland, so we may seek to include everyone in your abundant harvest. Amen.

Deaconess Ruth Dyer, DeBary, FL

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