MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Thy Strong Word: The Efficacy of the Word http://www3.cybercities.com/t/thystrongword/index.html
Bethany Church site: http://www3.cybercities.com/b/bethanylutheranchurch/
Very Unofficial WELS: http://www3.cybercities.com/e/efficaciousword/index.html
Very Unofficial CLC: http://www3.cybercities.com/a/aclc/index.html
Very Unofficial ELS: http://cfwwalther.tripod.com/
Lutheran Book Treasury: http://www3.cybercities.com/l/lutheranbooktreasury/
Tuesday, December 26, 2000
GARDEN ALIVE IN PHOENIX
I decided to take a few minutes and write about my garden. I have been watching the cat’s claw vine grow for almost two years. At first it was fairly sick looking. I did not help it with my off and on again style of watering. However, the cat’s claw benefited by being near the spray of the sprinkler I used for corn and other failed crops. (I have to deal with birds, small children, and a dog who eats my young plants. Precious has destroyed so much vegetation that I call her Agent Orange. The small children and birds together could not do in a whole summer what she does in a day.)
The cat’s claw is in full bloom now. The vines are completely covered with brilliant yellow trumpet shaped blooms. In the baking sunlight of a cloudless day, the blooms seem to have their own inner light. One thing is especially true of a desert plant. It may look like nothing for most of the year, but when it comes alive, it is more glorious in blooming than plants from the rain soaked and mildewy Midwest.
My roses are mostly alive and blooming too, since we have had several rains and plenty of sun (without roasting them to death). A kid kicked my prickly pear cacti to pieces, but the main plant is sending up new babies. One plate with two baby plates on top looks just like Mickey Mouse.
One member brings his roses to church. We planted the bushes together. Then we got free replacement plants when they appeared to fail. Then the failing plants popped their leaves and grew as well. He harvested his roses and I brought in mine. We called it The War of the Roses. I suggested a contest in which his relatives would not be allowed to vote on the best display. I would then appoint an appeals committee made up of my relatives, if he dared to appeal.
The roses are a reminder that we do so little and God does so much. We planted our roses, watered, and pruned them. Nothing man can create will ever match the beauty of a vase full of home grown roses. Mine were orange (Liverpool Remembers), red (Opening Night), cream-white-pink (Double Delight), salmon (Queen Elisabeth), and lavender white (Harlequin), yellow and madder (Peace), yet they all matched. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed so splendidly. Chris Hoenes had similar varieties, but more Double Delights, as I recall. Rose perfume drifted across our small chapel.
Purists do not allow flowers on the altar during Lent, but God let them bloom during Lent. We sinned boldly and let the blooms surround the cross.
Chris H. was scandalized that I had roses needing trimming. I had done a little pruning this morning, so I wondered about the level of his concern. When I looked at the backyard, I saw what he noticed. I left my rugosa roses alone so they would produce colorful hips or seedpods. I bought this variety, Hansa, for its hips. The hips are used in the production of vitamin C and give C tablets their distinctive taste. Rosehip tea is a liquid form of vitamin C.
All my rugosa roses looked deader than Tillich’s theology before the drought was over. I should have watered them more, but nothing seemed to help. Now they are back and producing loose blooms.
I have spent almost no time or money on the garden, because I want to finish the book on time. I thought, why not concentrate on sunflowers? So I bought a pound of mammoth seeds and planted them. Then I needed more, so I got 3 more pounds as birdfood (much cheaper). The old corn garden is now a sunflower garden. I have surrounded the children’s fort with a double layer of sunflowers. I started later in the season so that the fort would be full grown in the heat of the summer. It will be a dense jungle to get through. Children love to hide in a sunflower fort. It takes about 10 minutes to create one. Directions:
1. Start with easy to till ground, watered earlier if necessary.
2. Dig a wide but shallow trench around the whole play area. Or use a hoe.
3. Throw the seeds in and cover with soil. Use mammoth striped or black oil.
4. Water generously. Sunflowers love water.
5. Add more rows if time and seed permits. Planting a various times will give a longer run of blooms.
Sunflower plants are so cheap that children can knock them down when growing or trample them later when half grown and it will make no difference. If the plants are close together, they are smaller. Some plants will grow 9 feet tall. Every bloom will be popular with birds and beneficial insects, especially butterflies.
When I see an area that could use some flowers, I drag the hoe, throw in sunflowers, and throw soil on top. At other times I have a huge supply of another hardy plant, like zinnias, and sow them. Here and everywhere else, but especially here, the key is early and repeated watering to get the seed germinated and entrenched. I planted a lot of zinnias earlier and they are just starting to look like they will do well.
Here zinnias, sunflowers, and borage thrive on the sunshine without being hammered by the heat. Roses and many other normal plants wilt in the peak of summer heat, which can reach 115 and above. Really, 100 is not bad. But 115 is like being pursued by a hairdryer set on the high speed blower.
Members commented on the “pretty blue flowered weed” by the sidewalk leading to the chapel. I said, “Borage. Borage. That’s an herb I planted and cultivated on purpose.” The herb is now 3 feet tall and bursting with blue and pink flowers. We all eat them whenever we are talking on the sidewalk. The flower has a light cucumber flavor and can be used on salads. Borage is growing in many different sunny places. I hope it will seed itself in the future.
Dill? I scattered dill all over the yard, without digging in a single seed. Now I have several dill plants 5 feet tall. The seed heads form a halo of seed in slowly changing colors. The aroma is very pleasant. Beneficial insects love dill and its cousin, Queen Ann’s Lace.
My careless sowing technique, often criticized but rarely equaled, is like the Sower and the Seed parable in Mark 4 or Matthew 13. True, much of it is lost, but the results more than make up for the losses. Ministers often feel like failures, because they see so much effort seeming to accomplish nothing. But the parable of the Sower says that this is a false presumption. Every baptism, every communion, every sermon and Bible lesson is a casting of the seed. The Word has the power of the Holy Spirit to grow and bear fruit. Some is lost, some is scorched, and some is matted flat, but the work of sowing goes on and the Gospel grows in the hearts of believers.
This little congregation began with the baptism of one baby, Joseph, who is now two years old. Other babies have been baptized as well, little Emma Rose only a short time ago. Every pastor should look upon baptized babies with great satisfaction. What can we say? Look at what I have done? Not at all. Look at what God has done, first in the creation of life, second in the new creation by water and the Word.
The congregation and the family are similar to a garden. We nurture what God has given us. The more we see results, the more we realize how God does it all. We have the satisfaction of taking part in His daily miracles.