The Church is Like a Garden

A sermon by Michael Pahl on September 22, 2019, called “The Church is Like a Garden,” reflecting on John 15:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 3:5-9. This is the third in a five-part series called “Together we are a Church.”

Here is a written excerpt:

We are God’s garden, Morden Mennonite Church. How can we become a healthier, more fruitful garden here in God’s world?

We can start by becoming more aware of our interconnectedness with each other, and even with all living things.

We often have a distorted view of our own autonomy. We think we are completely independent beings, as if we are not formed by our environment and other people, as if we don’t in turn have an impact on things and people around us.

And we often have an odd view that we as humans are utterly distinct from all the rest of creation, as if we don’t have billions of microorganisms milling around inside each one of us, as if we don’t share 90% of our DNA with cats. (It’s true.)

Many people who report having a mystical experience of some kind describe this as part of the experience: an awareness of how completely interconnected all things are, and how they themselves are woven right into the fabric of this interconnected universe.

What mystics—including Christian mystics—have been saying for centuries is borne out by modern science: we may be self-aware individuals with some measure of free will, but we are not autonomous. We are never truly independent.

We are, as Genesis 2 reminds us, “of the earth”: the earth is in us even as we are in the earth. And we are, as Genesis 2 also reminds us, “bone of each other’s bone and flesh of each other’s flesh”: we are a part of each other even as each other is a part of us. This isn’t some pagan pantheism; this is historic, biblical Christianity.

This means we need to care for the earth. We need to work for clean air, clean water, healthy ecosystems, a healthy planet. And in a climate emergency, as we now find ourselves, we need to press hard for these things, demanding change from those with power to make change.

It also means we need to care for each other. If our own physical, mental, and spiritual health is dependent upon the health of our environment, the health of all others, we need to care for each other in all these ways so that all of us can be healthier.

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