Lenten greetings of peace, love and joy! Today is a special day! It is the 13th day of Lent. It is also the day that my devotion entry has been published by #PictureLent. I will include the link to it below so that you may see my contribution as well as the contributions of the other authors all the way up through Easter. I’ve also included the text here, because what are our personal blogs for it not to showcase the gifts and talents God has blessed us with??? Make sure you let me know what you think of what you read, and how God is blessing you through this look at Psalm 128.
Gardens, Children and Ministry
Walking this journey to the Cross with Christ is often demanding, rigorous and disorienting. I pray that you also experience Lent as hope-filled, energizing, and life-giving. On this, the 13th day of Lent, let us take a moment to breathe in that hope and life God provides as we breathe out the struggle and disorientation life sometimes offers. As the Psalmist prays for abundant blessings on Israel, I pray for abundant blessings upon you, your family and community.
As we walk, work, eat and drink, play and love, we seek to find the balance most pleasing to God. If we have children, we hold their hands so that they remain close to us and close to Christ. Scripture says we are blessed if we walk in the way of the righteous. So, I implore you to persevere on this journey to the Cross.
The Psalmist confidently asserts that all who fear/revere/respect and obey the Lord will be abundantly blessed. For Israel, if a person had fruitful lands and many sons, these were signs of God’s favor. Thus, the man blessed with a wife who bore many children who in turn worked the land and bore more children would have been seen as most highly favored.
Today, bearing numerous children and working the fields and vineyards may not be the symbols of fruitfulness in our culture. However, many of us, myself included, find happiness and blessing through our relationships with others, including our spouses, children, family, and friends. Lent is an ideal time to ponder the gifts God has given and still has in store for us. Now may be an ideal time to identify the gifts and talents we possess and how God is calling us to employ them for the journey.
Even today, we identify with the blessing of fruitful soil. Many of us live in urban areas where we are fortunate if we have small gardens where we may plant flowers, cucumbers, squash and potatoes. Yet, when we look around, we see the land bearing fruit. Down the street from my apartment, there is a family who grows oranges and another who grows grapefruit. Thank God for this fruitfulness.
Every summer, the children who participate in Saint Mark United Methodist Church, Los Angeles’ summer enrichment program work in the garden. We provide cups/containers and they plant and water their projects. At summer’s end, they take home the fruits of their labor. The children also help tend the garden and sometimes take home vegetables if they are ripe. God’s ministry through us is bearing much good fruit: literal crops planted, harvested and eaten; children and families who have the means to plant and eat healthy food; and a church and community better able to appreciate the amazingness of God’s creation and the vitality of our service as stewards. Inthese endeavors and others, only God truly knows how fruitful our prayers, plantings and plucking-up will be. Lord, bless your faithful people with fruitfulness.
Let Us Pray
Lord, take our stumbling, sometimes grudging and often uncertain steps, infuse them with your grace and assurance, and remind us that you are the source of our blessings and fruitfulness. You have given us Scripture to make straight and give light to our path. We give you thanks. Bless us, O Lord, as we scatter the seeds you have entrusted to us. May they bear fruit for your Kingdom for generations to come. Amen!
Let Us Do
Fruitfulness Bag: Put together at least one non perishable food bag to give away to a person in need. Please include applesauce or some other non perishable fruit cup, and if you include a juice pouch or box, please make sure it is 100% fruit juice. Preparing one bag for each household member or group member (if you are participating as part of a group or household) would be ideal.
Let Us Reflect
- In which ways has your life been fruitful (children, spouse, ministry, acts of kindness, answers to prayers, etc.)?
- How is your observance of Lent pruning you for greater fruitfulness for God?
- Discuss Holy and fruitful fear vs. debilitating and counterproductive fear. Which fear does God desire of us, and how does our understanding of fear impact our understanding of and relationship with God?