In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground… then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed….The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it (Gen 2. 4b-5, 7-8, 15).
Life began in the dirt. The first home for humanity was in a garden. The first job was gardener. Gardens connect people to the soil, to God and to each other. Gardens teach us that life does indeed come after death, that amazing things come out of tiny packages, that miracles and mysteries exist, and that dirt is sacred.
Gardens help repair the earth. Plants clean the air, attract birds and insects that support pollination, replenish the soil as compost, and provide healthy food. Through community gardens, Disciples’ churches are growing food on reclaimed ground (asphalt, vacant lots and lawns). First Christian Church in Berryville, Arkansas created a beautiful garden on a gravel plot.
Through gardens, congregations are planting justice in their communities. South Street Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri provides fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to the local food pantry. North Christian Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana held a weekly “reading in the garden” program where neighborhood kids came to hear stories while surrounded by vegetables and flowers. The VBS participants at Providence Christian Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky harvested vegetables for the food pantry from their garden to help answer, “Who is my neighbor?” from the Good Samaritan parable.
Every child of God has a right to good food. However, most families do not have space for a garden. Churches have the opportunity to provide space for community gardens and good food for God’s people. Wholeness for our fragmented world can begin in the garden.
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