I knew I was to have a meeting at church today from 3 until 5 pm and, as a result, was not whelmed at the prospect of changing into grubby clothes, slathering on sunscreen and bug spray, and heading out to our church’s community garden at 6. I knew we had fruit trees to plant, tomatoes to pick, pepper to water, and weeds to pull, but well, I just didn’t want to. So I decided I wouldn’t.
Then, in church this morning when we heard from Matthew 16 (vv. 21-28, actually), something stood out to me. This: Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ And wouldn’t you know it, our pastor mentioned in passing–it wasn’t even the main point–that it isn’t easy to “deny ourselves,” not if we take it seriously. Because denying ourselves doesn’t mean giving up things that are easy, giving things up that are abundant, giving out of the excess.
It’s about giving out of what is important, crucial, life-giving. Ah geez.
We announced in church this morning that we selected a name for our new community garden, this ministry of our church that has already donated more than 250 pounds of produce in our first somewhat-haphazard growing season. That name is Allelon Community Garden. Allelon is a Greek word meaning “one another.” Like, “love one another,” or working for the sake of others, rather than yourself.
This might help explain it a little more. Out in Idaho, there’s a missional church network called Allelon that offers a good summary of the Greek word’s context on their website:The word allelon is a common but overlooked New Testament word that is reciprocal in nature. Christian faith is not an individual matter. Everything in the life of the church is done allelon for the sake of the world. A Christian community is defined by the allelon sayings in Scripture. We are to love one another; We are to pursue one another’s good; We are to build up one another ; We are to bear with one another in love; We are to bear one another’s burdens; We are to be kind to one another; We are to be compassionate to one another; We are to be forgiving one another; We are to submit to one another; We are to consider one another better than ourselves; We are to be devoted to one another in love; We are to live in harmony with one another.
Allelon Community Garden.
This is the name I voted for?
That’s what I thought to myself.
And then I grabbed my bug spray.