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April 1st

April showers bring May flowers.  On this April Fool’s Day we are certainly starting in with showers.  But here in the northwest we do not have to wait until May for flowers.  There are beautiful pink and white trees blooming already with the promise of many more to come.  The magnolia in our front yard and the one at Trinity are just about ready!

When we think of gardens we often think of just the practical food producing plants, but the flowers are so important as well.

Because my Dad was a beekeeper, I remember that having fragrant blooming flowers were entice the bees to do their important pollinating work.  My mother always planted bright, bold zinnias around the edge of the vegetables.  All summer we had cut flowers to brighten our dinner table and somehow the bad bugs stayed out of the vegetables. 

Flowers remind us of the joy that God has promised us—they make me think of “abundant life!”  Not just food for our bodies but nourishment for our souls.

Beauty in worship is essential—I give thanks for the beautiful new Lenten banner hung this week in “God’s Garden” at Trinity!  Lent is about growth in faith and growth in love towards God and towards one another.  Our offerings of beauty to our Loving Creator give back just a small piece of the beauty we have received from God’s hands.

On Easter, we will celebrate the resurrection with a rainbow of beauty from God’s Garden—thank you in advance for adding to the beauty of that day!

 

March 30th

Today my Lenten Blog will borrow from a dear friend who is part of the twice a year collaboration between the faculties of our two Western Lutheran Seminaries.  I love what Cheryl says about the earth being God’s dwelling place.  That really goes well with my calling the earth God’s Garden!  Thanks, Cheryl!


Reading: Psalm 84
This is one of my favorite psalms. I have sung a choral version of it that I always hear in my mind as I read it. This time, however, I have a different "take" on the psalm. I used to think of church, frankly, as God's dwelling place and courts. Now I see all of creation as God's dwelling place (and probably have for a while). Seems obvious, doesn't it? This change in thinking has reminded me how precious, holy and fragile creation is. God has entrusted to us God's dwelling place. We can have profound effects on it. Now I ask myself, "Will I care differently for it as I ponder this new insight during Lent?"
Generous Creator, may your Spirit guide me in my care for your creation and all its creatures. Amen.
Cheryl Heuer
Dean of Students and Registrar, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Psalm 84 (NRSV)
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
4 Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
          Selah
5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob!
          Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed.
10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.
 

March 29th

I am aware that lots of people that I know have gardens.  In some ways it is a solitary activity, although I certainly remember with great joy working with my family in our garden in South Dakota.  I am not sure that I passed on that opportunity to my own children.  I would ask them to pull weeds sometimes, but mostly I used that as some “alone” time for me.

The Trinity “ Giving Garden” is just the opposite.  It invites us to come together and share in the work and the fun.  All ages were part of Sunday’s soil party.  There is much more work to be done—I hope many more will join in as the months go by.    Planting, weeding, watering, and then harvesting!  Lots of opportunities to work together!

March 28th

The Giving Garden took a huge step forward yesterday as we mixed soil for the boxes after church.  We mixed peat moss, vermiculite and some beautiful black compost to create the perfect soil for our vegetables.  You can see the hard workers and the smiling faces on this website or on Facebook.

I woke up this morning to another reminder that we all live in God’s Garden.  My high school friend who now lives in Dubai, ( United Arab Emirates) sent a Facebook message because she had seen the pictures.  When we can communicate our words and images so quickly just about anywhere on earth—we are reminded of our interconnectedness and that we all live in the same global community.

The tiny tomatoes and bigger squash seeds that the children planted in church three weeks ago have sprouted and soon the weather will warm enough to plant them in the garden.  Sprouting seeds remind me of Jesus saying in John’s Gospel, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”( 12:26)  So in order to be fruitful, what things do we need to let go of?  I ask this question in our personal life and in our life together as a faith community.  What needs to die in order for new growth to spring forward?  This is an awesome reminder of the resurrection.  Easter is coming! Alleluia!

Since this blog is really me talking to myself and the rest of you listening in, I must also ask the other question, which is of course, “What are those most important things that we need to hang onto, so that our growth is God’s growth, not some human contrivance?  For me it is God’s Amazing Grace proclaimed in Word and Sacrament for a thirsty world!  What is essential in your faith life?  In our life together?

March 26th

There was a rainbow in the valley just a little while before sunset last night.  From a distance we could see the small rainstorm and there was just enough sunshine to create the sign of God’s promise to us.  God promised to never destroy the world by water again.  For some people in New Orleans or North Dakota or Australia or Japan it must seem like God has not kept this promise.

Floods have many causes the tsunami and the hurricane both bring uncontrollable water. In our area it is too much rain and unseasonably warm weather that melts the snow pack before its time that usually causes our flooding. 

Global warming is causing waters to rise in many places—I think of the Lutherans of Shishmaref, Alaska who have to move their entire village out of the way of rising waters.  We can argue about the causes until it is too late to make any changes OR we can figure out how to decrease our use of carbon based fuels.  It is called “decreasing our carbon footprint.”  Footprint is a good descriptive word for the effects mankind has had on the earth.  We have drastically altered our environment sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Stewardship or care of the earth has huge implications for our futures.  What kind of world are we leaving to our grandchildren or great-grandchildren?  We can disagree about causes and we can argue the political solutions but we need to make changes for the sake of those who come after us.

I took a class at WSU in 1971 about the environment—we studied the inter-relatedness of all the earth systems.  Why did we not pay better attention to what we knew then?  Our lack of action on behalf of God’s creation (garden) we confess to the Lord.  Forgive us gracious God and give us wisdom and courage to change.  Amen.

March 25th

We are just about halfway through Lent.  But God’s garden is just starting to bloom.  On a gray Friday, it is easy to long for Easter and resurrection.  As we mourn the deaths of those we love, our hearts turn to God’s promises of life eternal.  Baptism and water are very important to our faith—it is where we begin with God.  The birth of a baby is wet and so is our “birth” as children of God.  The Bible is full of water stories.  This Sunday we will meet the woman at the well.  John records this conversation at a community gathering place—Jacob’s well.  The Samaritan woman and Jesus experience community in spite of their differences. 

I want some of that Living Water, too.  We are invited to drink deeply and to share with others.  There is water enough for all the world. 

I offer here a portion of the Women of the ELCA “Water Prayers.”

Gracious God, you have called us into a community of faith.  We are called to life by you and to sustain life with you, the source of life and creator of every being.  We pray for those who struggle every day for their daily supply of water: in the slums of Brazilian cities, in the deserts of Africa, in the townships where clean water does not flow.  We pray for those who experience floods and for others in desperate need of water.  We pray that those who are fortunate to have an abundance of water do not take your gift for granted, or fail to heed and understand the cries of people who need water for life.  Amen.  *Especially today let us pray for those recovering from too much water in Australia and Japan.  Amen and Amen.

 

March 24th

Thanks be to God!  The first little green sprouts have appeared in the peat pots, planted on Sunday, March 13.  The tomatoes are tiny little seeds and their sprouts are not much bigger.  The squash have not yet made an appearance.

We moved the seeds to a sunnier window!  Was it more sun or just the right number of days that made the difference?  We don’t know.  I am just relived to have something to show the children on Sunday!

Patience is a virtue that not all of us want to acquire.  A friend who endured much illness this winter says, “Never pray for patience!”  She says the lessons to learn patience are much too difficult.

Patience is the result of purposeful waiting.  And to learn patience our waiting must finally be rewarded, otherwise we just give up and become bitter.  Prayer is purposeful waiting and like Jesus we pray best when we include the words, “Thy will be done.”  Prayer is not always about the answer we wanted—sometimes God uses our prayers to mold us into the people who will pray another kind of prayer.  Thank you God for answers I can live with and answers that invite me to change my life.  But today, thank you especially for your gift of growth in those tiny tomatoes and in the lives of your children (of all ages) here at Trinity Lutheran Church in Everett.  Amen.

 

March 23rd

I am still thinking about daily bread.  In the Small Catechism Martin Luther described it as “the necessities and nourishment for our bodies such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”  This is a pretty thorough list of what we might need for life.  Farms and fields are included—we need them for life whether we own them or not.  My guess is that in Luther’s time most people owned some livestock and grew some of their own food or they had servants who did that for them. 

When we get all of our food from the grocery store we run the risk of forgetting that there are fields and farmers involved in our food.  We forget those who pick the food, those who process the food, those who drive the food to our stores and those who labor to stock and sell us the food in the store.  “Instant” meals and “Fast Food” still have their beginnings in a field somewhere. 

Today we give thanks for all of the people who are part of our own personal “food chain.”  I especially appreciate those who cook and serve and wash dishes in restaurants so that I can eat a meal and have my only responsibility be to pay the proper amount of “money”—one of those things on Martin Luther’s list.  I also give thanks for all the people with whom I get to share food!  Eating together brings us closer.  Come Lord Jesus be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed.  Amen.

 

March 22nd

Last night when I got home from an evening meeting, my coat was so wet from walking across the parking lot that Dave hung it in the laundry room to dry rather than put it in the closet.  Wet weather is an inconvenience for some of us, but for farmers and gardeners too much water is as bad as not enough water.  Agriculture has been described as the biggest gamble of all.  We who grow food are dependent on the whims of weather—I know weather doesn’t really have whims but it is alliterative.

My favorite books growing up were the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Those books describe a family in Minnesota and South Dakota trying to survive as farmers in a climate that was very harsh.  The last book of the series is called, “The First Four Years” and in it Laura describes the first four years of her marriage to Alonzo.  Every year their crops failed because of one natural disaster after another.  Through no fault of their own they had to leave the homestead in South Dakota and seek a new way of life. 

Family size farms continue to disappear from our landscape.  We all lose as they disappear because they provide a needed diversity of crops and from them we can learn better stewardship of the land.  As we pray in thanksgiving for our daily bread, we give thanks for farmers who grow the wheat! (and rye, and oats, and flax, et cetera) Amen.

March 21st

Yesterday afternoon it was not raining and so I was able to get my shovel and go out to the garden plot and dig.  I dug up some dead raspberries and lots of weeds.  The soil is spaded and now needs to have some compost raked in and it will be ready to plant.  In the past I have always planted and cared for flowers and I have often had a few cherry tomato plants, raspberries and some herbs, but this is the biggest garden I have ever attempted.  For a while I felt like a kindergartner writing in the “Mother’s Day cookbook”—get a big bowl and mix flour and eggs and cook it for 20 seconds at 600 degrees.  I have this interesting mix of childhood memories of my parents’ gardening, but I am not sure why they always did what they did.

For example—the rows had to be straight.  I mean measured out with a yardstick with someone holding a string so the furrow would be exactly the same distance form the rows on either side.  Did the vegetables care?  And the squash, cucumbers and pumpkins had to planted in hills not rows.  They got to run wild at one end of the garden while all the lettuce, carrots and beets stayed in their careful rows.  By the time I came along my parents had been gardening together for a long time—they knew from experience what worked in their gardens and what did not.

I am thankful for a place to experiment at this stage in my life.  There is forgiveness in God’s garden when the rows aren’t straight—in fact I am learning about square foot gardening where there are no rows at all.  I am excited about actually getting some plants in the ground.  Welcome Spring!  Welcome sun!

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