This morning at Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church, we had a lovely worship service. We are starting to meet some people and they ask our names when they see us. Our faces are familiar now. We are enjoying the services there, especially the leadership of Dr. Joe Bettridge. He tells everyone “Just call me Joe.” This morning I especially enjoyed the children’s sermon he gave about a gardening glove.
Dr. Joe held up a stick with really long thorns and asked the children if they knew what it was. All of them nodded enthusiastically and several replied that it was a blackberry cane. I have noticed the blackberry canes: they grow all over the place and have huge, long, sharp thorns. I don’t remember blackberry thorns this big in Ohio, but everything out here grows bigger. Dr. Joe asked the kids if they had ever been hurt by a blackberry thorn. Of course, the children were eager to tell him about scrapes and hurts from blackberries.
Then Dr. Joe asked the children if they knew how to prevent getting hurt by blackberry thorns. He held up a gardening glove and suggested the glove would help protect hands when picking blackberries. I think it would have to be an armor plated glove to protect against those thorns, but the kids agreed.
Finally, Dr. Joe suggested that there are people who are very prickly and can hurt us by things they say or do. He even suggested that some of those people might be in the church! Of course, that statement got a laugh from the congregation. One person even suggested it was a “pointed” comment. Prickly people in the church? Never!
But Dr. Joe brought it back to the gardening glove. He suggested that God’s love is the only thing that can protect us from the hurts of others. Or, even if what they say and do hurts us, God’s love is the only thing that can keep us patient, kind, and forgiving in our response to them.
What a wonderful image! I carry my gardening gloves with me and have used them this summer tending the formal garden. I can carry God’s love in my heart and wrap it around me to protect me from prickly people.
Do you have prickly people in your life? What do you do to protect yourself? Try wearing the gardening glove of God’s love so you can return good for evil and continue to live in the presence of God.