mini mini sermon for midweek outdoor worship

We gather here at the Memorial Garden not just because it’s a flat space to set up for worship. We gather here because this gives us a fuller sense of worship. We worship together as the great communion of saints, as well as praising God with all creation. Today as flowers mark Brian Anderson’s grave, those are for his birthday. We could still be singing “Happy birthday God bless you” to him, though with a much broader and deeper sense of what God’s blessing means now.


We also gather here acknowledging and remembering how these departed saints gave us life and how we are bearing the fruits of their labors, these people who preceded us and led us as MCC, as humans, as family.
That is closest to how we’d consider this week’s Gift of the Garden: I have peas that I skipped eating so they can dry and go in the ground next year and—if they serve their purpose—go on to produce more pea pods for me in the next generation. As creatures, none of us lives to ourselves. With God’s blessing, we live that others may be more fruitful. In that way our lives applaud God.


Jesus said, “I can guarantee this truth: A single grain of wheat doesn’t   produce anything unless it is planted in the ground and dies. If it dies, it will produce a lot of grain.”                           John 12:24, God’s Word translation


Generation after generation stands in awe of your work, O God;
each one tells stories of your mighty acts.

Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
your holy people bless you.   Psalm 145:6, 10, The Message



mini mini sermon for midweek outdoor worship #2

At the start of summer, kids from Kids in the Garden noticed making a cheeseburger required meat and a bun and ketchup and a pickle, and those came from farmers and relied on a cow and vinegar and cucumbers and tomatoes and—inevitably—on soil and rain and sun. I also like tracing those lines when we pray “give us today our daily bread,” a system dependent on innumerable aspects—from a grocery store stocker to wars not happening on a field to upkept roads (and transportation budgets) to fusion of hydrogen atoms 93 million miles away. Just for bread, this spectrum ranges from the simple to the frustrating to the incomprehensible.


Interconnectivity. This 2nd Gift of the Garden invites us to connect the dots, to appreciate the extraordinary and miraculous aspects of detailed work in tightly woven relationships, God’s gracious presence as the Body of Christ not just in bread or a congregation of people but throughout creation.


I have to stop because I’m out of paper, but we’ll continue with this theme Sunday, so you can come for even more connections.


mini mini sermon for midweek outdoor worship #1

Beauty may seem an unlikely place to begin this summer series on the Gifts of the Garden. A flower garden might exist for beauty. But as we focused on sharing the Green Team’s work of the Food Pantry Garden, likely our first term would be “produce,” on production, on the fruits that feed. We can’t quantify beauty, but can measure poundage. As long as the food fills bellies, would clients at the Lussier Center or Middleton Outreach Ministry really care whether their vegetables were beautiful?

And yet beauty matters to God. And in God’s eye, it’s an abundant beauty. There’s too much sense in our culture (and too much even as I was searching the Bible) that beauty applies to a very specific appearance and almost always to women.

But God sees you and all that sprouts in the spring as beautiful, as glorious as wedding garb. God clothes wildflowers and lilies in splendor, so we should pause to consider them (and you’ll have a chance to stroll amid the prairies and the Easter lilies re-blooming on the other side of the building). Jesus starts us with a focus not on our hard work and dirty hands, but on beauty as the lavish gift of God.

From Isaiah:
Let me tell you how joyful God has made me! For God has clothed me with garments of salvation and draped about me the robe of righteousness. I am like a groom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. Just as the earth brings forth buds, and as a garden in spring has young plants springing up everywhere, so the Lord GOD will show justice and praise springing up across the world. Isaiah 61:10-11, adapted from the Living Bible

From Matthew:
Jesus said, “Why worry about clothes? Look how the lilies and wildflowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that King Solomon with all his power and riches wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields.”
Matthew 6: 28-30a, adapted from the Contemporary English Version