Concerning Grace and Zucchini

by Pastor Glenn Kennedy, Audubon Park United Methodist Church

The other day Carol and I were listening to a news piece giving an update on the race for developing a vaccine for Covid-19. It was mentioned that the Microsoft Giant, Bill Gates had just donated 350 million dollars to the effort. I gasped and turned to Carol with this question: “what would it feel like to be able to donate that kind of money to anything!?” We both shook our heads in wonder…then I muttered, “well, I’ve always got Zucchini!” As you might suspect, there’s a story behind my comment.

Many years ago (about 40 of them, to be exact) I had been in my second parish a few years and we had just bought a little place where I could have room for a couple of horses. We hadn’t been there long when my older brother, a lifelong rancher, stopped by to check out the new place. After exploring my two acres he made this suggestion: “you need to take up gardening…it’s good for the soul!” He would know. His “soul” has been deeply attached to the land he has lived on ever since our childhood.

So…I listened and considered his suggestion. It was early in the spring…still time to work up a little patch of dirt and give it a go. “One more thing” he said, “Start out by planting lots of zucchini…any (blank) fool can grow zucchini. Just throw down the seed and jump back!” He was right on both counts…gardening has proved to be “good for my soul,” even in some unexpected ways…and it has proved to be a good idea to always plant plenty of zucchini. Every year I plant three or four extra hills just for the purpose of giving it away.

This year, since we are not yet able to hold in-person church services I have had to be more intentional about finding ways to share my garden excess. Usually I just take the extra to church and set it out on the “share table” and it disappears. This year I may be having a phone conversation with someone and I’ll ask at the close “oh, by the way, do you have a zucchini supplier?” After the person figures out what it is I’m asking, I’ll find out if they’d like me to drop some by.

During this time when we are so separated from one another we must find new ways to share our abundance with each other. I don’t have 350 million dollars to give away. I’m not big on social media as a way of making contact…but I do have zucchinis! I currently have several households on my zucchini drop list. (and a couple of deer who help themselves without invitation)

Pastor Glenn’s bucket of bounty!

There’s a wonderful little kids’ song that goes…
“Love is like a magic penny. Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more!”

I think, too, of those often-quoted words of Jesus in John 10:10 when he says:
“I have come that they (we) might have life, and have it abundantly…”

We don’t reap the full joy of abundance until we complete the giving circle. We have been blessed “abundantly” with God’s lavish grace…We have been gifted with life eternal through no particular effort of our own…pure grace. (i.e. Ephesians 2: 8-9) That awareness causes us to open our eyes and take inventory of our areas of abundance, and then find ways to share it.

The song has it right. “Love is something when you give it away, you end up having more.” The other day I went to my garden with my little hand basket I gather stuff in. It had been three days since I’d checked my zucchini patch…I ended up having to go to the barn and get my wheelbarrow to transport it all!

Recently a friend gave me an enormous gift of time. He tackled a project for me that I just couldn’t seem to find the emotional energy to take on. He did a great job, start to finish. When I was trying to find the right way to thank him, he brushed my attempt at thanks away and said, “now that I am retired, time is a gift I can sometimes share…I enjoy choosing how, where to share it…!”

Where do you have abundance in your life? How are you finding ways to share that abundance?

“Love is something, if you give it away, you end up having more!”

Blessings to You All,

Pastor Glenn

Posted in