Wednesday, April 4, 2012

theology of the garden

A few folks at Monticello Covenant Church are imagining a garden and have invited interested people for a potluck to get creative around that possibility.  We have outlined a couple of purposes that come out of scripture.

1.  To gather people in community around a garden and food.
2.  To exercise our vocation as earth tenders
3.  To share quality food with others who do not have access to quality food.
4.  To feed our body with quality food.

All of these ideas come out of scripture.

In the book of Genesis chapter one, we read about a good God who cares deeply for the people he was making.  While the gods of neighboring nations believed that the gods created people as slaves to do the work the gods were too lazy to do, we see the Hebrew view of God as one who is vastly different.  The Hebrew God created the world and the garden first before he even created the people.  This order had to do with creating a world that would sustain life.  Then he created the first people.  They were given a vocation to govern and care for the garden.

God created a world that would sustain human life and God created humans who would steward the garden.  Tending the garden well is part of caring for human life.  Our impact on the world has an impact for good or for ill on the rest of human life.   Our call is to join with God vocationally in doing good as we govern and tend the garden.

We note also in Genesis chapter one that God created a man and a women.  This is the first community.  Community is born in a garden and human beings were not meant to go it alone.  Being in community to govern and tend the earth has implications to be God's hands and feet in this world working together with God to form families, communities, nations. The people of God were invited to know his heart and to image this God to others.  This is illustrated in the story of Ruth.

Ruth and Naomi were poor widows, Ruth a stranger immigrating with her mother-in-law Naomi.  With little resources or food, they went to the farm of Boaz and gleaned in his fields.  Boaz was considered a righteous man because he invited Ruth to glean in a better part of the field that yielded more harvest.  In the Old Testament we frequently hear the command for God's people to watch out for the vulnerable ones--the widows, orphans and strangers.  Food is meant to be shared with others who need it. 

Again, the garden is meant to sustain life for us and for others.

This garden came before chemicals and pesticides and herbicides and GMOS and the fruit of the ground was meant to be good for the body.  But we are learning today that many of these substances intended for higher yields and more food are having negative impacts on the human body and on the earth.  The Bible also teaches us to care for the body as the temple of God.  I am taking this all a bit literal... but I think the principle is solid.  God created human life--all life--and called it good.  If it is good, then respecting God's creation is good.  God dwells within and among us and caring for that vessel honors him.

Jesus also fed many people while here on earth and even the table of communion is a symbol of community.  Christ has become the host of the table to which all are invited to come.  It was in a garden that he wrestled with obedience to his call.  He died to create this new community around himself and lives to offer welcome and hospitality to any who would come.  We have come, and join Christ in offering welcome to others in our community.

In the end of the Bible we see a garden again.  This garden is a garden that will have trees that bear fruit that will bring healing and life to the nations.  Gardens give life.  The end of the story also tells of a table around which there will be a great feast.  Invited are those from every tribe and nation who will come to the table of Jesus and join with him in the feast.

So scripture tells us much about gardens and meals and community.... embedded are multi-layers of ideas that tell us much about the kind of kingdom God envisions. God calls himself the gardener and Jesus is the vine... and we are also connected to the vine, planted in the garden of God.  We are tended by God nourished on the vine of life meant to bear fruit that will last. 

Sooo... Gardens have a lot of air time in the Bible and the theology of it has much meaning.

No comments:

Post a Comment