This past week I took my son on a hike around a local nature center. We went there to look at the changing leaves and have a little man time. As a father I find this time invaluable. Not only am I able to be a positive masculine example for my son but I am able to laugh with my little man. Images of Simba and Mufasa come to mind. I love putting a smile on the face of my little lion cub. We both left the garden feeling full. I appreciate the work of those who create environments like this. The idea of bringing that much joy to another person’s life excites me. In this garden there is life. If only we could live in the garden.
If I could pick one word to describe the Sunday morning gathering, Joy would be the that word. It is a celebration of what God has done and what he is doing. This is why I struggle when anyone exits a Sunday worship service empty and dry when we should feel deeply loved.
Sunday morning worship is designed to let mercy bloom in the areas of our lives which are dark and neglected. Sometimes the preacher and worship leader will accomplish this with surface level tools like a rake or fertilizer. Other times he will go deeper with a shovel. However, when we truly meet the God of scripture, we feel like we have come face to face with a rototiller. Yes, breaking up a hardened heart can get messy. However, when we leave we should feel firmly planted in the garden of God’s mercy.
Breaking up a hard heart is hard to do. This is why the preacher’s heart must break first. The sermon, should be like a neighbor lending his tools to another congregant. This can be difficult because often times the tools are not wanted. This is because we often times wallow in the destruction of the past, forgetting about the construction that needs to be done in the present!
To those of us who are hardened by the bitterness of the past. God wants to give us a break. To shower us with thirst quenching water, he wants to break up what has been trampled on and baked by the sun. He wants to see us flourish again.
Please know that God is building in us a new life, a new hope, a new dwelling place. This can be, at times, painful but necessary. In the interim we who have received mercy, we who have been broken up and tended to, should rejoice when another shares our fate!
We are not called to be greedy with this attention, we are to forgive freely and recklessly knowing that the tools, that made our soil rich, were forged by the hand of God. But it does not stop there.
We, as Christians, are called to cultivate and spread the Joy that is found in the garden. We are to share a message of love and forgiveness that we have experienced in our own lives.
In you God has made what was broken into something beautiful! He has produced in you a botanical masterpiece. Your garden is blooming…now go make another garden where more people may experience the glory of God!
God’s will for us is to cultivate, create and spread his beauty wherever we go. Take a moment to read our gardening instructions:
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature. So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” – Genesis 1:26-28 (Message)
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (Message)