Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.” Matthew 13:8
The Giving Garden
The Giving Garden is located on the North Campus of Franklin First United Methodist Church. While waiting patiently for the move to a larger faith facility, some of the people of the church use the land to draw closer to the community through The Giving Garden. As they witness God’s wonderful creation, they share in His splendor as they plant crops that produce fresh vegetables to nourish. Their days in The Giving Garden start with shovels in hand digging in dirt, donning hats made of straw and wearing rag like bandannas to keep the sweat off their brow. Stirred up dust clings to their cars and vans, as they drive down a long tree lined road to the one
bend in the road, they proceed and find an open gate where God is inviting them in. Awakened by the sound of human intruders snakes crawl under rocks, deer run for the safety of the trees, and birds hush their singing so that they can listen intently. Beckoning, the aged barn sits begging to be used as a storehouse for God. The old boarded up farmhouse that once heard
the laughter and the tears of years gone by, stands quietly waiting for what comes next. The people plant here so others can share in the blessing of their harvest and know how the Lord truly is able to supply. With carefully gloved hands, they pluck weeds and pray for good crops with the thought of how this work will enrich the lives of others. As the hot sun beats down on the backs of those who believe in the faith of our fathers, they trust in the Lord. Humble are the workers as they watch and see God in all His glory. They marvel at the way the Lord transforms the good earth to yield to the movements of their working hands. Everyone is able to share in the plentiful harvest, even if the workers are few. Arriving are the trucks with non-profit logos
affixed to their doors to gather the harvest to feed those who have less. The vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, some tattered and battling age and another sporting a cardboard sign on the windshield that reads, “We feed the hungry.” No matter what the reason for the visit, everyone leaves with something. Therefore, you see, the progress in The Giving Garden is due to the blessings inspired through the hard work of those making sure that the garden is green and ripe with giving. You’ll find no magic in The Giving Garden, the miracle you’ll see is how God provides a bountiful harvest for His glory from the hard work of His people. At the center, The Giving Garden is more than a place for vegetables to grow. God has provided this cornerstone as a place for healing, restoration, and fellowship. As the sun sets, the hushed conversations encourage the birds to sing and reach their heavenly quota, as everything under the sun has to earn its keep. Still hesitant, the deer watch carefully from afar. The snake coils around lush green leaves matching its color for a day in the sun. Everything is as it should be in The Giving Garden.
In many ways, our churches are similar to The Giving Garden. Some attendees are hesitant and hold back not sure, if this is the place that will hold the answers they are seeking. Others suffer in silence; indeed the world has not been kind. In the same way the Lord sends a gentle rain on The Giving Garden, the ministers shower us with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. With carefully gloved words from the gospel, the weeds are pulled from our lives. The church gives us room to
grow so that we can give and love from the abundance God has provided. Many come looking for something fresh to mend their brokenness. Some come without hope and are lonely, just looking for a place to feel and believe. Thank God, the church helps with our unbelief! There is room in church for all no matter how tattered and soiled our hearts, no matter what the battle. Those seeds of faith help us grow. Like in the garden, at church we find healing, restoration, and fellowship, as well as the grace of God so freely given. Thank God for the Giving Garden and thank God for the church!
Naomi T. Drake;
Franklin First United Methodist Member and Certified Lay Speaker