In the Christian calendar, the Sundays between Pentecost and Advent are called “Ordinary Time.” This lengthy season of the Christian Year reminds us of the journey of faith and discipleship that takes a lifetime. Christmas and Easter remind us of God’s saving action to redeem, forgive, and to welcome us home.
Ordinary Time, which coincides with the growing season of the year, invites us to grow intentionally in our discipleship. So, what will you do with your “ordinary time” to grow your faith?
Come into the garden of discipleship with me. One cannot spend much time here without encountering the Gardener. The Gardener looks to nurture and shape each and every plant, each and every bush, each and every tree to grow as each was meant to grow. In the garden of discipleship, you and I are the plant; or the bush; or the tree. Each one different, but each one meant to grow as the Gardener intends, “God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son” (Romans 8:29 The Message).
We think of discipleship as doing. The Gardener’s first concern is being. More precisely, being shaped like the life of Jesus. The Gardener revealed to the Apostle Paul the contours of that shaping, pictured then by Paul as “fruit”. Rather, the “fruit of the Spirit” filled out in Galatians 5:22-23.
So, come into the garden of discipleship. Discover the “you” you were meant to be in the care of the Gardener, and allow the life force that flows through every plant the Gardener tends, the Holy Spirit, to bear the fruit God intends, that you may be shaped more and more to look, live, and be like Jesus. As we explore the garden and examine the fruit God is growing in us, begin each day with this prayer*, or one like it:
Heavenly Father, I pray that this day I may live in your presence and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I hope to see you Sunday – and at other times as well! Send me a picture of your garden to share with others.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Jim Wishmyer
* Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, p. 9, by Christopher Wright