Like the Blackberry Brambles

  With biblical education at the heart of everything we do, someone who commits a year to serving with us will definitely gain an exposure to God's Word. As Jenna has interned in our community garden and Communications department, she's also been learning the Word at Bible Studies, chapel, and as she discusses here, in Genesis class. 

With biblical education at the heart of everything we do, someone who commits a year to serving with us will definitely gain an exposure to God's Word. As Jenna has interned in our community garden and Communications department, she's also been learning the Word at Bible Studies, chapel, and as she discusses here, in Genesis class. 

“Right now, I feel like the blackberry brambles. I have new canes growing, and also old dead branches needing to be removed, yet were still necessary for new growth. Right now, I just need a gardener to help prune me.”

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I wrote these words in my journal a few weeks ago. Journaling has always allowed me to feel closest to the Lord, and often when I look back, I see how He was moving in me at the time that I picked up my pen. Looking back now, I see the many gardeners that I encounter each day, and not just in Hopewell Gardens. Learning the Word, even for these past few months, has allowed me to find substance in my work in the G.O.D. community garden. Even more so though, it has given me a new lens for how we are called to be as a body of Christ.

When I decided to come to G.O.D. as an intern during my gap year, I had no idea what that would look like and that I’d be sitting in a classroom again. Stepping into Genesis, I didn’t know what I had to learn. By the time we began the first chapter, I’d already been working in the garden for a week or two. And the end of that chapter blew me away.

Being aware of what the text was actually saying in line with being in Hopewell Gardens each morning, culminated into a practical lesson of what we are meant for: working the ground, developing our environments, all for the purpose of developing people.

In class we learned that we have the responsibility to image God. In doing so, we are called to create, to order, and to embody God's character. In doing this, we can live up to the "good" we were created with the potential to bear. Part of that, according to Genesis, is being responsible to work the ground (2:15). I sit in class and absorb these concepts, and then walk out the door and into the garden, where the things we grow benefit the whole of our community, from our children learning at the Academy to the elderly that live down the street. This has been instrumental in giving me a deeper understanding of what it is to fulfill God’s calling.

  Our community garden efforts include the nourishment of widows in our neighborhood. Every week, Institute students come together to prepare and deliver meals to widows who say they're so glad their "babies" came to visit again, "and with that healthy food." 

Our community garden efforts include the nourishment of widows in our neighborhood. Every week, Institute students come together to prepare and deliver meals to widows who say they're so glad their "babies" came to visit again, "and with that healthy food." 

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Just as God instructed the first human beings to create a family that would become a community, so we have the responsibility to be contributing members of communities intent on bringing God's kingdom to earth. I have been so blessed by spending this semester not only working alongside Seth Davis in the garden, but also sitting next to him in class. We’ve been able to walk out of Genesis together, and then spend the late morning with our hands in the earth and the word on our tongues. Seth and the rest of our garden team have shown me what it looks like to live out the lessons we’ve discussed in class thus far. Experiencing a companionship in the Word only reinforces why we are called to value people: they are God’s creation, even more than the plants of the earth. In friendship, we all become gardeners, pruning each other through the Word.

Recently at morning prayer, a friend shared from John 15. The verse uses the vine and the branches to illustrate the relationship we are meant to have with the Lord. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the page in my journal utilizing the same metaphor. The garden is full of parallels for how the Lord works in us, and each day reminds me of the significance of God’s Word in everything we do. I feel blessed to walk out the door each morning and into God’s classroom.