A gardening God - 19 January 2021
By Hennie Symington
Then the LORD God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; he breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live. Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the East, and there he put the man he had formed. He made all kinds of beautiful trees grow there and produce good fruit. In the middle of the garden stood the tree that gives life and the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. A stream flowed in Eden and watered the garden; beyond Eden it divided into four rivers. The first river is the Pishon; it flows round the country of Havilah. (Pure gold is found there and also rare perfume and precious stones.) The second river is the Gihon; it flows round the country of Cush. The third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria, and the fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it.
Gardens must be very close to the heart of God because it was the first thing he created on earth. It was beautiful to behold and the fruits of the garden were good to eat. God even created a gardener in his image as a companion to till and delight in the garden. By scooping up a handful of dirt to form Adam, God showed us our connection to the earth. Our bodies contain the same elements as the earth, and are daily nourished and replenished by the earth’s nutrients and minerals as we eat and drink. It is not surprising therefore that we – most of us at least – feel a deep connection with and orientation towards the earth through our gardens.
Sadly mankind let that idyllic garden slip through our fingers and so we find ourselves mostly “East of Eden” and separated from the Gardener. But the dream of that idyllic place never left our hearts and at times we are reminded of it and rediscover the garden that remains hidden in the ordinary, the unexpected and the significance of timeless moments. Celebrating Christmas was such a moment as we were reminded once more that Christ came to restore our connection with paradise. He came to show the face of God among us so that we would remember that once upon a time there was a garden where man and God were companions, while pointing to a future time when the garden will be restored and God will be all and in everything.
Prayer: Oh God, we weep as we bring before you our gardens gone to wrack and ruin. We pray that you will restore our lives and make them new through your forgiveness and love for the people you created in your image. Amen