Prayer: Heavenly Father, Today I am reminded that you continue to watch over your gardens, even when they become withered and frail. I ask that you continue to give strength to the weak and comfort to those who are distressed. Guide us so that we may learn to show peace amongst our neighbors and respect towards our environment. Amen.
Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: Last year, my dad and I had decided to plant a garden in a small plot that my grandparents once used. I had planted a few sunflowers and my dad had planted a few pumpkins. The process of planting seeds is a delicate one. We carefully dropped each seed into its small hole – a hole that we dug with our own hands. Then we covered these seeds again, patting the soil on top softly with a feeling of optimism. We checked and tended our carefully planted garden daily, hoping for it to grow full and strong, and with each passing day, we became a little more hopeful than the day before.
At the end of the season, we ended up with two dead sunflowers and a few pumpkins. This was after making multiple changes to the garden such as elevating the pumpkins onto small planting dishes and supporting the feeble stems of the sunflowers with two steady rods. We were disappointed. Our hopes of a fruitful garden had been destroyed, and we began to question where we went wrong.
In this passage, we read what appears to be a love song that is in fact a parable of heartbreak. Similar to the garden that my dad and I had planted a year ago, God looked over his carefully tended Earth and was disappointed by what he saw. Where he had hoped to see justice, he saw bloodshed. Where he had hoped to find righteousness, he found distress (5:7).
We can see this distress all over the world. We see it in the faces of starving children. We see it in acts of war and terrorism. We see it in forests that have been cleared and ecosystems that have been devastated. This passage reminds us that God, too, sees all of this. Looking back on that first garden, I feel certain that God, too, must surely mourn for the seeds that he so carefully planted.
My dad and I will continue to tend to our garden. We will plant new seeds and grow hopeful once more. Thinking about the future of our small plot, I also feel that God continues to watch over his people, and from this, we too, can, be hopeful for a brighter future. --Courtney Dunn
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