Garbage Dumps to Gardens

That’s what Jesus is as the gardener.  That is what we are to be as his living body in the world, a river flowing, getting deeper and wider, eventually spreading the life abundant to the whole world.  In our wake should be green meadows filled with renewed life, not a barren desert we can call peaceful because we’ve destroyed all who once lived there.

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.””  ‭‭John‬ ‭20:19-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  It is the first day of the week, it is the first day of all things made new.  The disciples are hiding in fear in a locked room.  Fear is compelling them to hide, and they are in their little locked room.  We can live our lives in the locked room of fear.  We inherited this from Adam and Eve, who after their transgression in the garden hid from God.  The first words from human lips recorded in scripture find Adam and Eve speaking to God saying “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Genesis‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  So the very first human expression in language has to do with our own sense of fear which compels us to hide.  

And where do we find these disciples?  Hiding in a locked room, compelled by fear.  But God comes to them, 

And Jesus says to his disciples 

Do not miss that it is the Holy Spirit which must be given, we already have the other spirits upon us.  And how will you know that you have the Holy Spirit?  Because you will become a forgiving person.  

The baptized are the agents of new creation.  We are gardeners turning garbage dumps into gardens.  Golgotha was a garbage dump.  It had been a quarry, but now it was an abandoned quarry turned into a garbage dump.  It was part of the added humiliation of crucifixion, plus it made it easier for the crucifixion detail, the Roman soldiers.  Here’s a fun fact – a crucified victim was never buried.  They were just thrown in the garbage. That’s why it was so exceptional for Jesus.  That’s why Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had to get special permission from the governor to give him a proper burial.  

Jesus was crucified in a garbage dump.  But he’s resurrected in a garden. We should understand that this is our whole mission, to go into the garbage dumps of sin and turn them into gardens of redemption and reconciliation.  We are to turn garbage dumps into gardens, this is our commission.  We are gardeners joining Jesus.   He tells us 

The church changes the world by practicing resurrection.  The world, the old system, the one inherited by Cain onward, uses death as a tool, a weapon.  The world gets shaped by death.  That’s the old world, the world that is fading away, passing away.  The world that was inaugurated on that first Easter Sunday is the beautiful alternative.  We do not use death as a weapon, we use 

The church changes the world not by taking the battlefield but by calling everyone to join Christ at his table.  The table of Christ is the place where every barrier is broken, and forgiveness is found in the form of bread and wine.  Jesus invites you to come to him.  Every one of you, whether you come all the time or have never been there before.  Whether you think you’re a pretty good guy, or scum of the earth.  Whether you feel free, or bound in chains, you are invited.  

Because Jesus  offers everyone a Second Genesis, a new beginning, a new birth, a second chance.  You can come to his table and start over.  Come with your sin, your failure, your uncertainty, your doubts, come with all of that.  And see if you don’t encounter Christ giving you a second Genesis, a new beginning, a new creation.  See if he doesn’t turn your garbage dump into a garden.

“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there…Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”  

John Lewis

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