Tag Archives: gardening

Cornfields, Pumpkins and Worship

Cross and Corn

My daughter, Christina, is home from her college in Pennsylvania and worshipped at our outside service on Sunday.  She commented afterwards, “It is so amazing having worship beside a cornfield.”  She went on to say that many of her eastern classmates think Minnesota is covered with cornfields, so our worship reinforced that stereotype. I reminded her that just north of Bailey Road is a golf course and thousands of suburban homes.  Still the cornfield stands out.

Perhaps the cornfield can serve as a symbol of the vibrant life in Christ.  Jesus often used the image of seeds to communicate the growing aspect of our life in him

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat (or corn?) falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

The cornfield also reminds us that we are called to grow together.  The cornstalks are stronger and more resist to wind if they grow in a field together.  Yet each cornstalk is unique in it height, breadth and yield.  We are all unique creations of God, wired with our own dependable strengths, passions and callings.

The cornfield also connects us to a key petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us today our daily bread.”  God uses the farmer, millers, bakers, merchants, and financiers to move the corn in the field to the food on our table.   We can be thankful not only for the food but for all the people who work to feed us.

Scott H tilling the soil

Near the cornfield is the pumpkin patch that our church is  utilizing to grow pumpkins for our harvest festival in October.  Scott Hanson is working the field, trying to keep the weeds down and the vines growing.  It is truly amazing to watch how the vines in such a short time have covered the field.   Pumpkins are rapidly growing into ripe fruit.  I am reminded that God first put Adam in the garden of Eden to till and keep it (Genesis 2:15).   Our patch may not be Eden, but it is direct descendent.

How do you celebrate the wonder of summer growth?

Early Pumpkin

God of the harvest,
I celebrate the earthiness of potatoes just dug up, 
the sweetness of corn,
 beads of dew on tiny gourds,
the orange glow of ripe pumpkins,
green cucumbers and zucchini,
the garden full of life, health and bounty.

Jonah the Gardener

Pure speculation but I think Jonah was a gardener prior to his call as a prophet. 

"Sower with Setting Sun" by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

How else can the reader understand his roller coaster of emotions in chapter four?  When God is merciful and does not punish Nineveh, Jonah plunges into despair and wants to die.   He pouts outside the city.  God causes a “bush” to grow up rapidly.  Its shade provides Jonah comfort; “so Jonah was very happy about the bush” (v.7).  The next day God sends a tiny worm to attack the bush so that it withered.   Without the bush, the hot sun and sultry east wind hit Jonah so that he wants to die (v.8).  Jonah’s passion for a plant reminds me of a gardener’s deep identity with her garden.

Castor Bean Plant

Scholars speculate as to what kind of bush it was.   The Hebrew word here is qiqayon which is used nowhere else in the Bible.   Some think it was castor bean plant which can grow very quickly, up to ten feet in a few months (but not overnight, which is God’s doing in the story). Whatever kind it was, Jonah immediately sees its value.  He has it for a day and then it is gone.

After the bush dies, God confronts Jonah again, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?”Clearly Jonah valued the bush and its comfort and he makes the judgment that he is angry enough to die.  God challenges Jonah’s perspective and judgment.

God said, “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night.  So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than a hundred and twenty thousand childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”   Jonah 4:10-11 The Message

The book of Jonah ends with this question.  The tension between God and Jonah is left unresolved.  It is as if God is now the gardener, planting a seed of compassion and mercy in the reader’s heart to see if it will grow.  Will it grow in you?

Lord Jesus, Master Gardener, plant and water the seeds of compassion and grace in my life.