We are failed gardeners at our house.
Between neglect, deer and our dogs, we’ve spent about $1,000 during the years to reap three tomatoes. Being mathematicians, we have determined this is not a good investment. But we love fresh produce. Corn picked that day, tomatoes still warm from the sun, peaches dripping their peachy goodness, summer offers such amazing bounty.
The rest of the year we tend to exist on poor reproductions, but in the summer we get the real deal.
We have, many times, been the recipients of others’ largesse. One of our neighbors comes over every few days or so with treats from his garden. Sometimes congregation members will leave a bag of produce on my desk. And folks use creativity to spread the wealth. One congregation in town hosts a community garden, which offers neighbors the opportunity to play in the dirt. At a former congregation of mine, people planted extra rows, brought the bounty to church, where others would take what they wanted and leave a donation for the building fund.
Tomatoes are like globes of red gold… carefully meted out to loved ones. They are only given to people who will use them well – for tomato sandwiches (my latest favorite one, with balsamic mayo on skinny rye bread, which may be treason, I know.) Or maybe for tomato pie, a good BLT, or gazpacho, or just thick slices of tomato on the plate.
Zucchini is like, well, like something of such abundance that you can give it to those you love and those whom you barely tolerate. (I assume you don’t leave your car unlocked in the summer, lest someone load it up with zukes) Even for those who love zucchini, there comes a time when there is SO MUCH of it that we can’t use it up.
Sometimes we act as if God’s love is like a ripe, garden-fresh tomato. There’s not really enough for everyone, so we figure out who is a worthy recipient… and who is not. Just like you wouldn’t waste a good, fresh tomato on someone who would simply toss it in a stew where a canned tomato would suffice, we decide that perhaps God’s love would be wasted on someone whom we determine to be unworthy.
But I believe that the biblical witness is that there is a never-ending abundance of God’s love, and that we can never use it up. There is, and will always be, plenty of God’s love to share and to spare.
We too often live with a theology of scarcity – that there is simply not enough for all. I understand the Bible to teach us that there is plenty, an abundance of love and food, and that we live as stewards of that abundance, making sure that all experience and know God’s love, and that all are fed.
The Rev. Dr. Joanne Sizoo is pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.