Thursday, December 1, 2011

Faithful gardeners

“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:“‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet. Matthew 21:33-46

It is that time of year when everything in the garden has withered and died, time to pull down any old stalks and vines and prepare the soil for the winter. It is time to lay down some mulch and straw in hopeful expectation of the spring and plantings to come. The longer I live, and the more vegetables I grow, the more realize that life is really about living as a tender gardener, knowing what to do in what season, how to care and enrich the soil, and most of all, to know that I am not in charge of the final product. My job is to plant, tend and to pray, trusting the Creator of all things to supply the increase and abundance.

Jesus is using another story to help those who would listen understand how God works and how we humans try to manipulate things. He invites us to listen to the story, to spent our time planting, tending and praying rather than believing we are "large and in charge". Our human frailty often leads us to believe that we own things. Native people have known all along that we are merely caretakers, and Jesus reminds us all today, as Advent and December begin, to remember that we are tenants, stewards and caretakers of the time and lives we have been given. We are freely given such abundance from God, and are asked to be gentle and tender gardeners, sweet friends and faithful followers, rather than conquerors or controllers. In this season where the world is competing for all sorts of dominance, we are invited to seek a life of care and nurture of others and the world around us.

Today I ask God to help me follow Jesus by being a tender gardener, a gentle nurturer and a steward, praying and seeking God's leading in every moment. May this day be part of an Advent of kindness and care, and may I dedicate my time to the care of others. May the fruit I produce by the grace of God, be a blessing to those around me, and may I do all I can to lift others up, keeping my eyes on the incarnation of God's love in this world.

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