One of the questions I’ve been considering lately is, what does it mean to live in the kingdom of God? As I’ve talked with God about this, he continues to lead me back to the image of the garden. From the beginning of the Bible to the very end, the garden appears again and again as a place where one meets with God, as a place where life and work happens, as a place from which one is sent out, as a place where sin is present and yet as a place where one is forgiven and restored. It is a place where all things are made new. I have learned that when something keeps coming to mind that I need to pay attention to it. So this question of what does it mean to live in the kingdom of God is becoming a question of what is this garden I am in? What are some of its characteristics? How do I be a gardener? Every garden has seasons and rhythms: what are mine? Every garden needs work: what does mine require? Every garden exists to grow and support life: what am I to grow and support? All gardens require water: where do I get water and how do I water? All gardeners hope for a harvest: what is mine and what do I do with the produce? These are exciting questions to ponder as they lead me into a deep consideration of my life with God.
Beginning this Fall (see all the details below) in Northern Virginia, there will be a series of four retreats that will pick up some of these questions, and create space to meet with God about the answers. The series opens with the first garden and will follow it from sorrow to redemption in the Resurrection. During these mornings, time will be given to seek to define the garden in which God has placed each of us and discover some of the opportunities that he has for us to experience his presence. We will explore ways to work in our garden and we’ll fix up the boundaries and improve the soil so that it is ready for planting. We’ll address concerns about water for our plants. Finally we’ll explore the harvest and fruits of our labors. Even if you can’t attend these retreats, we invite you to use these questions to seek the Lord’s will in your life over the next few months. Try revisiting Genesis 2, Matthew 26, and/or John 19 & 20, and asking some big questions.
- Oct 22 – We’ll begin at the beginning, with the story of creation and humankind in the Garden of Eden and see what we can learn about God’s original intent and his desire to be present with us and experience our discovery and wonder in his creation.
- Nov 12 – We’ll be with Adam and Eve in God’s justice as he expels them from the garden and begins to experience the consequences of their sin.
- Jan 14 – We’ll be with Jesus in his mercy as he restores right relationship with the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane
- Mar 25 – We’ll consider the Good News of the Resurrection on that first morning of the New Creation and reconsider our lives as opportunity for discovery, wonder, and witness in this New Creation.
Through these events we will define the garden in which God has placed us and seek to discover some of the opportunities that he has for us to experience his presence. Using garden as a metaphor, in later sessions, we will explore together ways to work in our garden. We’ll fix up the boundaries and improve the soil so that it is ready for planting. We’ll then turn to concerns about water for our plants. Finally we’ll explore the harvest and fruits of our labors.
I am looking forward to exploring this together with you and bringing our story to God’s story and seek what God would have us know about that.