December 11, 2013

Help and hope in the orchard of our lives

By Luke Gascho, director of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College and professor of sustainability/environment
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 146:5-10 (5) (NRSV)

It happened again yesterday. I was excitedly sharing with someone about the gardens and fruit trees at our home. I explained when and how I had planted and nurtured various parts of our landscape. It is amazing to recognize how the diversity and health of our property has improved over the last 15 years. All of this conversation implied I was responsible for all this transformation. I needed to acknowledge that I am only the gardener – and that the actual growth comes from factors and sources outside myself. While that realization is humbling, it is also the basis of my hopefulness.

Psalm 146:5-10 repeatedly names the One who transforms many desperate needs in our world. Multiple actions of generative healing are named following each stating of the name LORD. The repeated focus on the Actor who makes change happen guides me into hope and courage. It is impressive to see the ways that God is involved in making all things right. Verse five sounds the clarion call for us to be participants in these activities. The happiness of our engagement with the many needs rests in knowing the Helper who energizes the transformation.

Over the past number of weeks, I have planted many fruit trees, nut trees and berry bushes in some additional property that we have acquired. I know my role is the gardener who cares for the health of this piece of God’s earth. I plant with delight, hopefulness and anticipation. I believe that growth will happen and that there will be an eventual time of bounty. The orchard will supply food for many and will also be there for future generations. My anticipation parallels the multigenerational hopefulness of the Psalmist – and Mary awaiting the Promised One. My hope is based on the Source beyond myself.

God is my helper – the true source of my happiness and hopefulness. May it be so for you.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 146:5-10 (5) (NRSV)
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,



Comments (3)

  1. Thank you for this message today. I am planting something in my own life right now….and am reassured that while I am responsible for the planting, Someone greater than I will bring forth the fruit.

    Mary Hughes December 11, 2013 |
  2. Thank you for this very hopeful message on a bitterly cold morning. I have had the privilege of watching your hard work and the progress of your orchard from my daily commutes to work along the bike path behind your house. Your enthusiasm and the anticipation of fresh, healthy fruit have inspired my husband and I to begin planning our own mini-orchard. Thank you for teaching the community around you, of which we are a part. All without tuition fees! And, yes, how wonderful to be reminded that, while we do our little part, the fruitfulness of our endeavors lies in the hands of our Creator.

    Lynda Hollinger-Janzen December 11, 2013 |
  3. Writing from Deming, New Mexico, not far from Columbus, New Mexico, where Pancho Villa “invaded” the U.S. in 1916. Now many people are INVADING this desert landscape and not all are understanding the truths in your Advent meditation — for instance, one person had a large sign in front of HIS property that read Osama Obama Tryant Dictator — may God have mercy on his racist soul as well as on my lost cousin Mary and me for our unreconciled state! Thanks for being at Goshen and all you do there and other places as well!

    Norm Morford December 11, 2013 |