Working in God’s Garden

Farm Workers by Seurat
Farm women at work — Artist: Georges Seurat (1859-91) Guggenheim Museum
By on March 9, 2022

Dear People of the Diocese of Kootenay,
Greetings in the name of Christ as we begin the season of Lent.

I am amused that in this particular year, the date for Ash Wednesday is March 2. What popped into my head when I noticed this was a line from the musical “Camelot,” when King Arthur is speaking of the ideal country: “The winter is forbidden till December and exits March the Second on the dot.” If only the end of winter and the beginning of spring were so clear-cut as that! But we know the origins of the word Lent are the Old English and Old German words for Spring Season. Lent is the Spring Season of preparing for new growth.

In our Liturgical year, Lent is the preparation for “Celebrating God’s New Life,” the Resurrection of Christ at Easter. So the question for Lent is always “What Spiritual preparation do we need to ready the ground for the new life God is trying to grow in us?” Lent is about “ground-work,” groundwork for growth.

This same agricultural metaphor appears in the call of Jeremiah the prophet;
God announces that through Jeremiah, God will be “plucking up,” as preparation for “planting.” You who are gardeners know what is involved in preparing the soil for planting;

  • Plucking up all the weeds and old dead plants from the year before
  • Digging, ploughing, turning the earth over so it is loose, breaking up dry, hard clumps, aerating,
  • Adding nutrients to the depleted soil, including mixing in compost, incorporating all the rotting vegetable matter that will nourish, condition, and strengthen the dirt.
  • Compost bin! God uses all of our past, the mistakes, the losses, the struggles, the failures, the traumas, as well as all our healthy traditions, good experiences, loves and friendships, learnings, …God turns all the mixture of who we are into a nourishing compost to become wisdom and strength for what lies ahead. This for me is an image of “redemption”; God reclaims it, heals and transforms it. I wonder what these Spring metaphors mean for you if God is the Gardener and you are the soil in which God is planting something new?

Or if God the Gardener is working for new planting in the Church, how do we as Church co-operate with God in what needs to be plucked up and thrown away, what old matter needs to be dug around to break up the hard lumps so a seed can germinate, what needs to be composted, what nutrients are needed?

May you have a holy Lent!

Yours in Christ,

+Lynne

Author

  • Most Reverend Dr. Lynne McNaughton is the tenth Bishop of Kootenay, and is the 13th Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon.

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