Focal verse

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Reflection

On summer evenings as the sun settles below the horizon, I often garden. Weeds need to be pulled. The heat necessitates water for the plants. And much produce needs to be picked. As the fireflies illuminate the sky, I get on my hands and knees to weed. At eye level and moving large leaves out of my way, I see vegetables and fruit ready for picking. With every cucumber, zucchini and red tomato found, I give thanks. Standing next to the garden, much of the produce is hard to see. It’s not until I get on the ground that I witness the abundance before my eyes.

As a parent, I see this same reality play out with my children. So often I’m going from here to there, preparing food, picking up toys, driving to lessons and school, and seeing my kids from a distance. There are days when I don’t make the time to play with them, and days when school and other activities take up our time. Conversely, there are moments when I stop and really pay attention to them. Summer days have provided ample time to play outside together, or run at the park, or build with blocks. The lesson from the garden is the same with my kids: the times I get on the ground and see them at eye-level are the moments of finding beauty and abundance in my midst.

Time in my garden and with my children point me to a God who wants to know us and see us as we are. God delights in our intricacies and diversity. God loves us simply for being a child of God. When we marvel at our children, we see them as God does. We see our connection to them and to the God who knitted each of us together.

For many, the school year is rapidly approaching, and the long summer days are coming to an end. So take the time this month to be present with and see your children. Look them in the eye. Notice the way the light reflects on their faces. Listen to the stories they tell. Get on the floor and imagine with them. For every moment you see your child, trust that God sees you too, beloved child of God.

Practices

  • Get on the floor to play with your children. Let them direct what you do, but spend uninterrupted time following their lead and see what gifts emerge.
  • Find a mirror and look at yourself and your children. Remind yourselves that you are created in God’s image and God sees you as a beloved child.

Prayers

We pray for families going through transitions.
We pray for God’s peace in cities and countries of unrest.
We pray for farmers and gardeners and all those who work the land.
We give thanks for playgrounds and parks, giving us time outdoors in God’s creation.
We give thanks for national parks and conservationists committed to preserving the earth.
We give thanks for teachers, school employees and students as they prepare for another year.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.

Service opportunity 

If you have a garden, donate some of the produce to a local food bank. If not, find out if there’s a community garden in your town where you can volunteer.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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