Gardeners and Gatekeepers

Today marks the day my Grandma Liggin died. We were close. Very close. When I was young she taught me about gardening. I can still see her sporting that sunhat while wearing navy blue pants and a sleeveless button up shirt (much like the one in the picture). Every now and then memories of us plowing rows for seed turns my thumb a little green and makes me want to plant a garden. Then I remember I’m too busy. Or too lazy. One of the two, any way.

I remember the fence she built around the garden. Yep, she built a fence. She was pretty amazing. Anyhow, the fence was meant to keep out unwanted critters. But there was a problem with the gate. It was a bit temperamental and liked to get jammed. On occasion the gate threatened to keep us out of the garden. Grandma would give it more than a few whacks with a shovel handle before we could enter (I never said she built a good fence).

I’ve been thinking about how Christ-followers are like gardeners rather than gatekeepers. When we love well and extend God’s hospitality we participate in cultivating human flourishing and home-making. The seeds of faith are plowed through obedience to Christ’s call to love God and neighbor, and the fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control–grows from our lives and spills into the lives of others. Life together becomes life-giving. Any one can find a home with us and together we will learn to make our home with Christ.

Joys are celebrated. Burdens are shared. The unwanted are welcomed. The vulnerable are valued. The hurting are held. The sick are supported. Hands are washed. The widows are watched over. The displaced are defended. The fear of death is disarmed. This is human flourishing. This is home-making. It’s what happens when Christ-followers become like gardeners.

When we become like gatekeepers nothing new can be planted. Nothing new will grow from our lives or the lives of others. Many among us will feel alone. Many around us will remain displaced. The Church we call home withers and dies. Nobody is allowed in to God’s garden.

The Christian faith is a way of life connected to a story that begins in a garden (Eden), suffers in a garden (Gethsemane), re-birthed in a garden (Christ’s Resurrection) and ends in a gardened city (Revelation).

It seems we are better suited to be gardeners rather than gatekeepers.

About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
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1 Response to Gardeners and Gatekeepers

  1. bishopdfaith says:


    I enjoyed this; am sending this on to other “Gardeners”!

    “Digger” Dave


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