Call and Response

We did some gardening this year. We have long held to the romantic notion of gardening but our only feeble attempt was years ago when the kids were little and I didn’t have much inclination about anything except keeping them alive. It also left Rob with an abiding dislike and grudge against squirrels.

But the kids are much older now and we have plenty of friends growing stuff and what with quarantine a few months back and a desire to cover space in the yard to cut down on trying to keep grass alive in Florida, my love built me some fabulous raised beds and it has been one of the greatest things we have ever done.

There has been something very life affirming and soothing about working our small garden. It has also given me a new appreciation for all of the garden/growing/reaping/weeding metaphors found in Scripture…the actual hands in the dirt and watching stuff grow and seeing it all in action I guess.

One thing that stood out to me again and again was seeing the fruit of a plant blooming and blossoming at various stages right next to each other. A barely ripe berry growing right beside a ready to pick and enjoy berry. Same stalk, same nutrients but completely different rates of growth.

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Throughout the New Testament we are exhorted with a whole bunch of “one another” verses.

Be at peace with each other ~ Mark 9:50

Be welcoming to one another ~ Romans 15:7

Bear with one another ~ Colossians 3:13

Love one another ~ I John 3:11

Forgive one another ~ Ephesians 4:32

Serve one another ~ Galatians 5:13

The list goes on and on and on. Basically we are commanded to do life together even when we are in different stages of  of growth. Even when we are maybe further along than those around us in some areas or a little behind in others.

One of the things I love about my church is our liturgy that requires a call and response between the pastor and congregation. Every Sunday my husband calls us to repentance and as we kneel together we confess corporately our need for grace and forgiveness. Every week he will ask us, “Church, what do you believe?” and as a group we will say the creed of our faith.

Together.

Sometimes you can hear someone get a little ahead of everyone else just by a syllable or maybe two. Or someone else is lagging just a bit. Tempos and cadences have to be adjusted and that means we have to listen and know where everyone else is.

Because we are speaking together we can hear when we get a little too far ahead and need to slow down. Or we notice that we are needing to focus despite distraction and pick up the pace a little. It is more than just saying the same things. It’s also about saying them at the same time.

It is a practical way to remind us that we are one body…one voice…united to each other…connected to each other whether still a little green or ripe with color. It is a beautiful way for us to practice being one body despite differences from one to the next, family way to family way. It seems like a gift of grace each week to be reminded that we belong to each other.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  ~Romans 12:3-5