March 20, 2014

Love in an Orchard

By Luke Gascho, Director, Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center
SCRIPTURE: Romans 5:1-11 (NRSV)

The life arrived in a box delivered to my front door. There was no way the living being could get out by itself, so I gently opened the package. I found what I was looking for – an apple tree! It was carefully wrapped – the trunk supported by a piece of bamboo and its roots in a moist packing of wood shavings. I was delighted to see this new tree that would be part of my life for decades.

I had just been entrusted with insuring that the tree’s life would continue, so I needed to act. The tree was helpless in that box. I could not make it grow, but I could provide the right conditions (justified) so it could have a healthy life. I dug a generous hole for the roots, carefully arranged the roots in the hole, filled the hole with good soil, and added water. I stepped back and admired this small whip of a tree and knew that it had been ‘reconciled’ to its new home.

I have a love for this apple tree – and the many others I have planted. Because of this love, I prune it (suffering); I stretch its branches so they won’t break under the weight of a full crop of fruit (endurance); I pay attention to the unique shape and health of the whole tree (character); and I anticipate the annual harvest of mouthwatering apples (hope). All these processes needed to happen to this life – an apple tree that appeared to be little more than a stick of wood in the box – to experience a generative outcome.

And the tree has its own ways of boasting – or shouting praise – as it produces buds, leaves and an abundance of fruit year after year!

In the same way, Christ is the orchardist of my life by bringing peace with God to me. Christ’s love is proven to me year after year by reconciling what I was with what God knew I could be. In response I commit daily to ‘shout out’ that love to all I meet.

SCRIPTURE: Romans 5:1-11 (NRSV)

God’s Promise Realized through Faith

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.




Comments (16)

  1. Luke, Thanks for the parable…beautiful. Ora

    Ora Troyer March 20, 2014 |
  2. Thanks Luke for this reflection! Your love and care of this apple tree is a great example of God’s love and care for us that nurtures us through suffering and helps us to endure and become better servants
    For Christ! Blessings to you always, dear colleague!

    Vicky Kirkton March 20, 2014 |
  3. Luke, I love your symbolism here. I read it over and over. It makes sense.

    Mary Hughes March 20, 2014 |
  4. Thank you, Luke, for this insightful and beautiful commentary on Rom 5, worth many a meditation. The sustaining action of Jesus in our very beings that makes us the source of sustenance for others. May the Paschal Mystery of Jesus enrich your life and enrich others.
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet March 20, 2014 |
  5. What a wonderful reflection on the demonstration of God’s love. Thank you for sharing this with us!

    Leanna Teodosio March 20, 2014 |
  6. A most beautiful allegory, Luke. Thanks so much. Wilma

    Wilma Shank March 20, 2014 |
  7. Thank you, Luke. I memorized this passage when I was a teenager preparing for a quiz team. But never has it become “alive” for me in such a dramatic way as it has this morning! Thank you, Storyteller!

    Rachel Nafziger Hartzler March 20, 2014 |
  8. What a fine metaphorical devotion. Thank you. That apple tree will shout it’s praise this new spring, too, with blossoms and the promise of enduring fruitfulness. Your care, our care, for the twigs in our lives, be they faith or people, bears fruit in many lives and in our own. Peace and good wishes as another spring arrives. Leave a response…

    Warren March 20, 2014 |
  9. Thank you so much for this eloquent and profound message.

    Diane March 20, 2014 |
  10. One of the best explanations I have ever seen regarding the process of becoming like Christ. I resist those pruning times until I remember our rose bushes. Thanks for the amazing analogies, I intend to simplify a little and share with my children’s ministry!

    Lana March 20, 2014 |
  11. Thanks you , Luke, for bringing this inspiration to my morning. Your parents would be so proud of you! Leave a response…

    Mary K. Mishler March 20, 2014 |
  12. What a beautiful meditation for the first day of Spring.

    Nancy Gustafson March 20, 2014 |
  13. Luke, Thank you for this devotional. A great way to start this Sunny day working in my garden.

    John Gingerich March 20, 2014 |
  14. Thank you for these thoughts, Luke. They have special meaning for both of us since we both recently returned from hospital stays followed by weeks of rehabilitation.

    Merv & Fern Hostetler March 20, 2014 |
  15. Thank you for a lovely story of helping an apple tree get a good start in life and of how you’ve tended it over the years and enjoyed the bounty of its delicious fruit. I’m reminded of an old poem, the beginning of which goes like this: “I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.”

    Sandra Osborn March 20, 2014 |
  16. Very fine. . .Very Luke. . .Very organic at all the levels.

    Joan March 20, 2014 |