Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church
Waretown, New Jersey
From the Rector
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As Spring struggles to arrive, my thoughts are turning to gardening. There's a number of garden spaces around the grounds of St. Stephen's. Some have already been adopted, and green shoots are beginning to sprout. We have more gardens waiting for adoption. See Ret Rich if you are interested in becoming a Garden Angel.
As I think about gardening, I'm drawn to the similarity between the season of Lent and the work we do to prepare our gardens. As Easter approaches, perhaps it is time to nurture our spiritual garden, to assure we will be in full bloom on Easter Sunday. How do we prepare the spiritual garden of our lives?
Part of preparing any garden is to first clear the ground and prepare the soil. In the same way, we have to begin by preparing our spiritual soil; we remove those obstacles to God’s grace in our lives. We confess our sins, repent, and amend our lives.
2. Prayer and Worship:
It is through our relationship with God that we access God’s grace, God’s unmerited favor. And God’s grace is the nutrient our spiritual soil needs if we are to grow. We set aside times during each day for individual prayer, and join with our brothers and sisters in Christ in offering our worship to God.
We study the Holy Scriptures, and so hear of the witness of those who have gone before us. We hear the stories of the mighty acts of God, and the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These testimonies help us persevere as we grow in faith.
We also listen to our living witnesses, the other members of the body of Christ in the world today. We share our stories of God moving in our lives with one another. We support each other, rejoicing together in good times, and holding each other up in tough times. This enables not only our own growth, but the flourishing of all of God's flowers in this spiritual garden.
This is where our garden begins to bear fruit. We share our blessings with others. As we receive an abundance of grace, we allow it to flow through us, out into the world. Our cup is so overflowing with grace, that there is no fear that we will ever run out of this "living water." So, we freely offer God's grace to everyone we encounter. This is the "fruit" our garden will bear.
If we nurture our relationship with God through prayer, study and fellowship, we will be overflowing with grace. We will then take action. We will become a blessing to others. We will reach out to those in need beyond the walls of the church.
May we use the remainder of this season of Lent and the special liturgies of Holy Week to nurture our spiritual garden. May we prepare it well with lots of God’s grace, so at the harvest time, we will bear much fruit.
In the Love of Christ,