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Posts Tagged ‘compost’

Pitchfork in hand, I am turning the compost. This pile is full of onion peels, the tops of tomatoes, potato skins, unused herbs, pieces of peppers, corn cobs, eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, clumps of hair, grass clippings, the list could go on. Occasionally I recognize some of the individual scraps, but the contents are being transformed into an entirely new material. They may not seem like much before they become a part of this collection. But together, this stuff is something. Turning the pile permits air to enter and allows the pile to breathe.  Turning it into the garden helps to hold moisture, fight disease and feed plants that will feed us.

I am turning the compost and can’t help but think about the church. I can’t help but think that individuals who become part of this gathering are no longer what they used to be. I can’t help but think of how God is turning this group into something new. I can’t help but think of the big plans God has for this group together as a source of blessing and hope for the earth.

I am reminded the apostle Paul sometimes made lists of common sins and sinners that could be found throughout the Empire. We often read Paul’s lists of sins and sinners as a list of who gets into heaven and who does not. But the text does not read as if these folks do not have hope. In fact, these letters are written to recipients who used to commit these very sins and were described like these very sinners. To the Corinthians he said, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Perhaps we could say, “You are no longer what you used to be, you are being made into something new.”

Yes we look around and we might not see the church we dream of. Instead we find a broken, wounded, divided, spent, used, messed up group of scraps. But together our individual-ness, even our natural abilities and inabilities, takes a backseat. We may not look like much as individuals, but together we are God’s plan in action. Gathered and turned by the Spirit, we bring new hope to the world.

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It is a good time of year to be in the garden. Or at least to think about it. Here is a garden thought from Participant: Field Notes from Here and Now.

I am in the garden, turning soil and mixing compost, planting onions and lettuce. I roll up my sleeves and reach into the earth. I breathe in the smell and look forward to picking vegetables from the back yard. I am thinking about Genesis, where on the sixth day, God rolled up His sleeves and reached into the earth and formed a human, an earthling.

Genesis says God gave the earthling a name and then breath. Genesis says God looked at this breathing, moving, artistic creation and, “behold, it was very good.” It is not recorded, but I suspect He also said, “Wow.”

I find it interesting that God planted a garden and placed the earthling there to cultivate and to keep the garden. Barbara Brown Taylor thinks that while working in the garden you remember “where you came from and why. You touch the stuff your bones are made of. You handle the decomposed bodies of trees, birds, and fallen stars. Your body recognizes its kin. If you have nerve enough, you also foresee your own decomposition. This is not bad knowledge to have. It is the kind that puts other kinds in perspective. Feel that cool dampness? Welcome back to earth, you earthling. Smell that dirt? Welcome home, you beloved dust creature of God.”

I, scooped from the earth, now flesh given breath, am in the garden, turning soil, mixing compost, planting onions and lettuce. I roll up my sleeves. I breathe in the smell. I reach into the earth. It gets under my nails. In my hair. It’s caked on my knees. I call it dirt. But I think about the sixth day when God first formed a human from this stuff and all I can do is say “wow.”

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I was outside turning the compost when spring arrived.  Apparently I am not paying close enough attention because if I was not told it was to occur at 7:21 pm, I would not have even noticed.  Bernd Heinrich says that “Most of us are like sleepwalkers here, because we notice so little.”  Heinrich is right.  We are not nearly as attentive as we ought to be.

I look up into the sky and see the early stages of night.  I wonder what might be headed our way – a potentially hazardous asteroid?

As the weather warms, I have been spending more time in the compost.  This time of year it starts as dead leaves, pine needles and kitchen scraps.  Turning the pile permits air to enter and allows the pile to breathe.  Turning it into the garden helps to hold moisture, fight disease and feed plants that will feed us in not too many months.

Eugene Peterson has written a helpful book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.  Peterson has carved a niche for further work in pastoral practice and spiritual theology.  It is likely that his name will be mentioned and his words quoted for centuries.  One of the tools in his arsenal is a “contemplative exegesis.”  A reading of scripture that does not ignore the strengths of critical methods, yet utilizes strengths of poets, pastors, and storytellers.

In Christ Plays he reads the Gospel of John through this contemplative lens as a grounding text for “playing in creation.”  Peterson suggests that John presents Jesus at play in the Genesis creation.  That John is Genesis 1-2 re-told in specific, recognizable geography and history.  That Jesus is both the creator at work among us and also the creation of which we are a part.

In John, we become insiders into creation as Jesus continues to speak creation into existence.  John presents signs in a way to show that Jesus continues to work in the stuff of creation.  Everything Jesus does, he does with his hands deep into creation.  In Christ Plays, he proposes creation as a playground for divine activity.  Peterson insists that there should be no sleeping on the playground.

Karissa has completed study at Baltimore School of Massage.  Because of that, anatomy has been a topic of conversation at our house.  Anatomy is not a subject that John writes about.  John is not aware that we are born with 270 bones and wind up with 206 as an adult.  John does not know that we have over 600 named muscles, each of them working efficiently with tendons and ligaments to aid our movement. 

However, John does take us into places where the sick, blind, lame, and withered lay.  One of those is a man sick for 38 years.  John does not even find it necessary to tell us what his ailment might be; he just lets us know that at the word of Jesus, he begins to carry his bed.  John introduces us to a man who was born blind.  He reports that “since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.”  John wants us to know that Jesus applies clay to the man’s eyes and this man begins to see. 

As amazing and against the odds as these incidents are, John later brings us to a funeral for Jesus’ friend Lazarus.  Where Lazarus has been dead for four days.  Where we know that usually when the respiratory system shuts down for four days, one remains dead.  Yet, Jesus says “come forth” and Lazarus comes walking out from the tomb.

It is safe to say that in John we do not learn anything about anatomy.  Yet, we do learn that even subjects that appear to adhere to rigid rules are under the rule of God.  Even rules of nature, including anatomy, are subject to God.  Odds go out the window.  The improbable, even the impossible, have to be seen differently.  Perhaps that is John’s intention – that we see everything differently.

We take things for granted.  We get into a rut.  Things are here, they are real, but we do not notice.  Compost is breaking up the ground; asteroids shoot through the sky.  Who knows what breaks up and shoots through the soul?

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