The Garden of Eden (Oldham branch)

Proper 10a – Sunday 10th July 2011
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

More people have read this t-shirt than your blogI’m not sure what the Garden of Eden looked like, but for the past two weeks every time I’ve drawn the curtains in the morning I’m sure I’ve been looking out on the Garden of Eden – or at least its Oldham branch. A combination of two months ample rain and radiant sunshine has left our little patch looking abundant. And every morning for the past 10 days there has been blue skies, bright sunshine and a blossoming harvest greeting my eyes.

I’m very proud. Very excited.

You see, about six years ago we decided to change from a mainly flower garden into a vegetable patch. And for five years we harvested nothing but weeds and disappointment. To be fair, potatoes and peas have been our greatest successes, but the frustration of virtually everything else failing has been painful. We’ve not got a big garden – about 30’ x 30’ – with a 12’ drop from back door to garden gate – with approx 35% patio, 30% garden, 35% patio. To maximise our potential we use grow bags and patio pots in great quantity.
Even with our meagre resources I’ve always expected a 30fold, 60fold or maybe 100fold harvest. Fat chance.

But this year … well, well, well. Looking good.

Let’s start off with the good news, I’ve not bought a lettuce in the last three weeks – and preparing three packed lunches five days a week that’s something. But we’ve harvested two beauties a week and egg mayonnaise never tasted so good. And I haven’t picked a single lollo rosso yet, just had one rocket, so there’s at least six weeks supply still to go!
Herbs have gone mad this year. Chives also go in the egg mayo, mint in the new potatoes and coriander in the salad leaves. Onions are sprouting, carrot pushing through, potatoes (in bags) overflowing, runner beans and peas making their way up the netting, tumbling tomatoes flowing out of a hanging basket and cabbages the size of … well, cabbages.

And then there are two rhubarb plants, a gooseberry bush, strawberry pot and raspberry pot, and an apple tree and a cherry tree. Can you see the Eden angle now?

Sowing gospel seeds can be as rewarding and frustrating as sowing courgettes. Conditions need to be right. Plans have to be made. Resources have to be available.

Over the last few years I had some success with gospel seeds. There’s been some growth, there’s been some decay.

“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds.”

One of the encouragements I get from this start to Matthew 13 is the necessity to sow and harvest every year. We will fail with some seed, we do well with some seed.

I sometimes fear that the church is too caught up with failure to be bothered in the first place. You know, a bit like Laodicea – neither hot nor cold – not trying, so not succeeding  and not failing. Very much in the same vein as the third participant in the parable of the talents – let’s bury it in the ground and forget about it.

A good website is Depair.com. I like it a lot. On bad days it cheers me up. On good days it makes me see sense. If you get a chance have a quick look at some of their posters, they are so funny. And so true! I love their definitions. So accurate. Some of my favourites are:

Sanity – Minds are like parachutes. Just because you’ve lost yours doesn’t mean you can borrow mine.

Tradition – Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid.

Mistakes – It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

Sometimes we when grasp the enormity of our task then we feel nothing but utter despair. But God knows just how big the task is. Jesus said, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” We need more workers, we need more sowing, we need more reaping. We’ve got to keep on keeping on. Even when we feel at our lowest our work is not done. We’ve got to get back up, proclaim the Good News and the live the kingdom life.

And from time to time we’ll see some good harvests. Bit like my back garden … did I tell you about my carrots?

Happy days.

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About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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