This Canadian celebrated by gardening and delighted in all the signs of life emerging from their long winter dormancy. Well, I didn’t exactly delight in all the signs of life emerging from the many crab grass roots that were taking hold of my garden’s edges, but I definitely took hold of them with determination, and was delighted the soil was still loose in response to the receding frost.
It got me thinking about Pentecost and how well our calendar seasons match the church’s. According to the church year, Pentecost is a season for taking hold. It follows the longing and letting go of Lent, the emerging joy and claiming of the resurrection at Easter, the time of waiting for instructions after the Ascension, and comes as a season of empowerment and new life in the Spirit.
The miracle Christians celebrate at Pentecost is that worshippers from many different places and cultures all heard the good news of Jesus’ resurrection in their own language from Jesus’ Galilean disciples. After hearing they were baptized and the church was born. Thanks to the gifts of the Holy Spirit these intimidated followers of Jesus overcame their confusion, doubts, and ethnocentricity and were ready to reach out and connect with the tenacity and effectiveness of crab grass roots in spring.
I wonder if there’s a lesson for the church in the habits of crabgrass. Crabgrass sends its roots wherever there is moist soil, be that deep into the earth (it can grow 2 metres down), or, as was the case under this winter’s thick blanket of soil, skimming under the surface, right across my flowerbed. It keeps sending out spiky feelers to move wherever there is moist soil.
The church’s current season of uncertainty continues, even if it is Pentecost. Denominational budgets are shrinking and denominational councils and staff are tossing around terms like living into the mystery, embracing a season of disorientation, finding life and ministry on the margins of society, etc.
So I wonder; is it a season for sending our roots down deeply, for reaching across new soil beds, or both?
Will we respond to the planning and pruning of a gardening God, like the crabgrass responded to my gardeners will? Just who is taking hold in this season of uncertainty and disorientation anyway?
Is God taking hold of the church and creating growing spaces for new plants, like I was in my flower beds? Or are current denominational structures like flowerbeds that temporarily exist in areas where crabgrass allows them a period of respite, knowing its deep and wide root system will outlast any gardener and again take hold of each inch of soil with it’s unifying cover of green?
I have no idea. But I am glad, very glad, that God is the master gardener, and that the church, denominations and all, is in God’s good hands, even in seasons of extended uncertainty. And I am glad, that even in times of uncertainty, new life keeps on emerging from the old, and flowers bloom.