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Tending The Garden

Faith Perspectives – May 16, 2018

By Rev. Nate Wollenberg
Trinity Lutheran Church, Hoyleton

A couple weekends ago, I finally got around to planting my vegetable garden.
This is a brand new endeavor for me – last year, I had just moved to Hoyleton a couple months before spring came, and so I just wasn’t ready to tackle another new project.
Before that, I lived in a small apartment in Texas that didn’t allow me to grow anything of my own.
So this year, it’s finally happening. Our family is going to try to grow some of our own food, and we’re really looking forward to fresh cucumbers and bell peppers and zucchini this summer!
In the process, I’m realizing how much work it is to really take care of a garden.
Getting everything set up with good soil, making sure you’re watering properly, getting rid of weeds and protecting your plants from birds and squirrels and rabbits – it can be pretty exhausting!
Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a whole congregation filled with “green thumbs” and the advice I’ve received has been really helpful. But even though I have a lot of help at my disposal, I still catch myself from time to time worrying that I’m not doing it right, that I’m going to mess something up, that I’m going to waste all of my efforts because of some rookie gardening mistake.
A couple Sundays ago, as I was leading our congregation’s Bible class, I realized that I’ve been placing way too much emphasis on my own efforts.
We were studying “vocation” – the many roles and responsibilities that God calls us to fulfill in our lives – and I came across a quote from my tradition’s favorite quotable theologian: Martin Luther himself.
Luther said, “Our works are God’s masks, behind which He remains hidden, although He does all things.”
This is an extremely profound statement. What Luther is saying is that God is using the work that we do, even the simplest things (like tending a garden) to do His work in the world. God feeds the world through the work of gardeners and farmers. He clothes the world through the work of tailors. He gives comfort, protection, and nurture through the work of parents. All of these things are important to God, no matter how small they might seem in the eyes of the world. What a weight is taken off of our shoulders when we realize that it’s not all about us, but that the work we do is God’s work first and foremost!
As Christians, we should see any work that we are called to do as a vocation from God – not just the “jobs” that help us to earn a living – but even the small day-to-day tasks that we complete.
We do all work to the glory of the One who performed the greatest work of all: Jesus Christ, who died and rose to save us!
May we all be His hands and feet in the world!

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