By Phil Wood
Considering the sermon by Pat Russell on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020
Scripture Readings: Acts 2
Reporting from her garden, which she calls her "Garden of God's Goodness," Pat gave us a beautiful lesson on the similarities between square-foot gardening and the amazing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
I'm not a gardener, so the concept of square-foot gardening was new to me. But as Pat explained, it's a relatively new technique for gardening in raised beds that can produce a remarkably high yield of kitchen vegetables in a minimum amount of space. The garden is divided into one-square-foot sections, and each square is planted, rather densely, with a single variety of plant.
Pat used this technique as a metaphor for the work of the Holy Spirit who, on the day of Pentecost, brought about "a whole new way of gardening – a whole new way of growing people."
As with the hundred or so disciples who were touched by the Spirit's tongues of fire and planted in house churches (square-foot gardens) to support the spiritual growth of the 3,000 who were converted that day, so we each have been planted in our square-foot gardens. And we have each been blessed with the same power that was given to the disciples to impact the lives of those in our square.
So here is the question of the day, as you "go deeper" into Pat's Pentecost message. Do you think of yourself as a person with power?
Please take some time to reflect on that question honestly, and to talk to Jesus about it.
For almost my entire life I can say I have definitely not considered myself as someone with power. But in these days since Resurrection Sunday, these COVID-19 days leading up to Pentecost, I have been rethinking that question.
The Bible couldn't be more clear that disciples of Jesus have been given power. It's not our own power. It's the power of the Holy Spirit, doing the will of Christ. But it's clearly power that is exercised through real, flesh-and-blood people like you and me.
Certainly it wasn't Peter's own power that enabled him to speak so articulately, so convincingly, with such brilliance and logic that 3,000 people fell to their knees in repentance and believed in Christ that day.
Maybe it's a bit of a stretch to see yourself doing something that huge. But Pat did say, and the Bible does say, and I've come to believe: that same power is in us!
Maybe we just need to start small and build confidence (faith). Maybe with a word here, or a spirit-inspired word there, we can impact the life of another who has been planted in the same square-foot garden as we have. Pat pointed to examples of such movement by the Spirit in our own congregation, with one member reporting that the Holy Spirit gives her compassion for the broken, helping her to feel what they feel, keeping her from being afraid to be present and walk alongside someone who is hurting.
Pat suggested another question for us to consider in going deeper. Actually it was a question she suggested that we each pose to the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, what would you have me do in my square-foot garden during this COVID-19 era?
If you sincerely ask this, and are watchful, don't be surprised if an "assignment" presents itself, giving you a chance to test your wings and build your confidence (faith).
One of the most beautiful descriptions of a garden I've ever seen was that given in the book, and later portrayed in the movie, The Shack. The fictional storyline is tragic and not for the feint of heart. But the garden, tended and cultivated by none other than the Holy Spirit, is a very holy place. To the main character, the garden seems wild, chaotic, totally without any semblance of order. But in the end, the camera pulls up to a view from above. We see that the garden is an incredible array of swirling color, of such beauty that only God could have created it. And it is revealed to be a place of redemption, forgiveness of the unforgivable, and the healing of a broken man.
Your square foot in the Garden of God's Goodness can be just as magnificent, when the Holy Spirit is your gardener.