I was chatting with one of our church members after worship this past Sunday and he was telling me how tired he was from decorating the exterior of the house for Christmas. I can totally relate… the lights, the ladders, the inflatables, the extension cords… ugh. But then he said something that was a total curve-ball. He said, “yeah, and to top it off, I planted over 100 daffodil bulbs in preparation for Spring, my legs are sure tired!”
DAFFODIL BULBS?!? Are you kidding me?!? This guy is obviously operating on a way higher plane than I am. I can barely wrap my mind around preparing for Christmas… and he is taking the time (in the midst of the busiest season of the year) to prepare for Spring.
Garden and agricultural imagery has always been a favorite for communicating the truths about the Kingdom of God and the journey of faith. Jesus was certainly a fan (many of his parables and teachings use this type of imagery). There’s a beautiful order and wisdom to growing things. First, we prepare the soil. Next, we plant the seed. Then, we weed and water. In God’s time, the sunshine and rainfall and soil nutrients give birth to the flower, or tree, or plant. Finally, when the time is right, the fruit or produce is harvested. To successfully prepare for Daffodils, it turns out, one must prepare the soil and plant the bulbs BEFORE winter even settles in. It’s a lot of work… and the reward is much delayed… I mean, who can even think of daffodils in December!?
During the season of Advent, one of our centers of focus is PREPARATION. We enter into the experience of those first-century Jewish people at ground-zero of the coming of Jesus and we are implored to PREPARE for this ‘coming’ that has been foretold through the prophets for centuries. John the Baptist was on the front-line of this coming miracle:
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. (Matthew 3:1-8)
So, when dealing with agriculture… we prepare the soil, plant the seed, and watch the fruit grow. When we apply this to our faith journey and the coming of Jesus… we REPENT, which literally means to ‘turn around’ our hearts and minds (like a practical, spiritual preparation of soil), change our ways, works, and actions (like a practical, spiritual planting of the seeds), and ‘bear fruit’ (reaping the results of faithfulness, justice, and kindness) all in anticipation of the coming of Jesus.
As Jesus followers, to PREPARE ourselves for Jesus’ coming, weather we are talking about the experience of his coming as a baby in Bethlehem, or his coming at the end of all things to establish God’s Kingdom in its fullness, or his coming into our hearts, minds, lives on a daily basis as his promised presence and authority, we must do the hard work of cultivating our lives so that we can bear the fruit worthy to be associated with, and credited to, Jesus.