Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
Kathy and I have worked quite a number of hours together on our yard and garden this year. Thankfully, the time spent shows. Our lawn looks green and lush. In fact, because I worked in past years on dandelions, when the lawn came in this year, there were very few of those yellow weeds in my front lawn.
Our flower gardens are beautiful. The rose tree of China has bloomed and gone. The daffodils and tulips graced the early spring, but all that is left now are the green plants. However, the daisies, the columbine, the lilacs, and the irises are blooming now and are beautiful. The peonies are ready to burst. Years ago we paid Taylor Berberich to design and plant our front flower bed. Her work is still evident. In addition I have planted some hanging baskets for the front porch and some planters in the back yard. These flowers are all ahead of last year’s crop, and are displaying beautiful blooms.
And my vegetable garden is doing well. Jackson and Kendall, two of my grandchildren, helped me plant on Memorial Day. Everything is up now and looking healthy (though I’m still waiting for most of my carrots to show). I have used the roto-tiller and weeded the garden about 3 times, watered regularly, and it appears we’ll have a good crop of vegetables, even if they do all come in at once. My peas and strawberries look especially good compared to past years. And, the plants in my little greenhouse are also growing.
One nice thing about gardening is a person can see the fruit of their labor. In our world of chaos, gardens and yards can at least give a sense of order in a world of disorder.
For, while my yard and gardens look beautiful and orderly, what horrible chaos is the going on in the world around us! As politicians discuss important issues for our times, where is the civility to be able to listen and hear ideas another person might have? As our nation has dealt with major drug issues for over 50 years, why does the heroin problem seem so difficult to change for good? When the Lord created the world he declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18) So God created families as part of His plan for the healthy way people live. Why, therefore, is there such turmoil in families? And why do faithful children of God, people seeking to live for Him, come down with horrible, life-threatening diseases, illness which threatens to cut short lives of service and love and faith? On a personal note, as a sports fisherman, my sense is that for many years the salmon returned to Alaska streams on a somewhat predictable schedule. Why has that schedule changed? When I look for order in the world around me, I find disorder and chaos, pain and death.
God tells us the reason and the cause for the disorder, the anguish, the pain, the corruption, and the death that turns our world and our lives upside down. The rebellion and the sin of people against the Lord and Creator of all things has resulted in a world of disorder and death. Read Genesis 3. After the rebellion and the sin of Adam and Eve, we are told of God’s explanation to them of what they will now face. “17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:17-19) Unfortunately, we are still seeing the results of their sin. Unfortunately, we continue to pursue our selfish thoughts and desires, and our own sin and rebellion has an effect on us, and on others. The healthiest way to live is still to follow our Creator and Lord. But, even children of God, confessing sin and seeking to follow Him, live in a world that at times seems like chaos. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create an orderly beautiful place, like our gardens?
Thankfully, God has created the ultimate place of life and love. Our Lord has defeated sin and it’s consequences by sending His Son. We sin, but Jesus lived an obedient and righteous life. We deserve punishment, but Jesus paid the price for our willfulness on the cross and in the grave. We face death and judgement, but Jesus rose from the dead and He offers eternal life in heaven to all who turn to Him in faith. Listen to the words of God from the book of Revelation about the new world He has waiting for us.
“1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’" (Revelation 21:1-4) We now live in a world of disappointment, heartbreak, pain, and death. But God promises a new world. God promises a life where He lives with us, fully. Our Lord and Savior promises a world where He has “weeded out” sin and it’s results, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." What a beautiful garden and paradise, what a beautiful life that will be!
This year our family has done something different. Kathy and Mary and I subscribed to boxes of vegetables from Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak Farms. I don’t have to get down on my knees to have fresh cabbage and swiss chard. So Kathy asked me, “Why did you plant your garden this year?” That’s a good question. But, the truth is, I like getting my hands dirty as I plant the seeds and the vegetable starts. I enjoy creating an appearance of order when the weeds are pulled and the plants are all in a row. And, I find joy in planting the flowers and seeing the beauty of God in the midst of an ugly world of pain. However, I know my garden is not the reality of the world around me. I am thankful God has the order, and beauty, and love of eternity in heaven waiting for all who trust Jesus.
A Child of God, Gardening and Thinking,
P.S. Here are some pictures of our yard and garden so far in 2019. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Gq9m1jnraSvHY6BX8
P.P.S. Vacation Bible School was held last week. Here are some pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/wUW9D724LMQeEj1h9
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.