At the school where I work, I have worn many hats over 30 years, but one of my current jobs is the most fun – gardener and beekeeper. Any readers of this blog will see many entries on these subjects over time, for there is so much of God in nature, as there should be, since He is Creator as well as Lord.
This week, Carolyn and I traveled up to the Botanical Gardens in Cleveland, which was an inspirational experience. One of my favorite places there was the Children’s Garden, where they have taken old, undesirable throw-aways and recycled them as planters for lovely flowers. This model of reversing construction, taking materials that in the past were destined for landfills and creating something beautiful makes good sense, for it is socially responsible and sustainable – and it makes God sense, for it reminds me of some of my favorite verses in the Bible – verses that I have asked to have read at my funeral.
The verses appear in two places, and their location has offered ministers volumes of sermon material over time. The first place is in the Old Testament, in the magnificent book of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
The second place is in the New Testament gospel of Luke, where after being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus quotes these words at his home synagogue in Nazareth. He opened the holy scroll, read the words, sat down, and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Beauty from ashes – prophecy and fulfillment. Darkness and sin exchanged for hope, joy, grace, mercy, love. Do you see, gentle readers, why these words are funeral-worthy?!