The first fruits
In our church, we take turns bringing flowers to decorate the sanctuary on Sundays. When it is my turn, I always bring my orchids from home.
I’ll bet many of the folks in our church think it is because I am a cheapskate. Why should Steve buy cut flowers when he already has those plants at home?
I’ll bet others think about my inherit aversion to shopping. Why go to the store and fight the crowd and stand in line when all Steve has to do is bring a couple of pots across the parking lot?
I’ll bet still others of you think I am just lazy. Why would lazy ole Steve buy, cut and arrange bouquets when those orchid plants are all ready to go?
Actually, the answer is none of the above. I bring the orchid plants over to the sanctuary for a very spiritual reason. I have always been good with plants. When we first began collecting orchids, I thought for sure I would kill them with no trouble at all. While I have managed to kill most of the fish in our tank, these plants have flourished. In fact, they look great.
As a matter of fact, I am sinfully proud of my orchids. Even though they are reputed to be difficult to grow, I have done great with them. They are healthy and beautiful and the best things I have ever grown in my entire life.
I bring them to decorate the sanctuary because I am giving to the Lord the very best that I have to offer. I am imitating the original brother Abel and in a symbolic way bringing to the Lord my very best. God is God and deserves the very best I can give to Him.
Going back to our Letter to the Philippians, I am trying make, “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.” – Philippians 4:18
Don’t panic thinking I am trying to make a Pharisaic bribe onto the Lord. I like to think I am a good Reformed Christian theologian. I am in agreement with the young man who answers Jesus’ declaration of loving God and neighbor with his own declaration: “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” – Mark 12:33
But doesn’t the Lord deserve our very best, be they flowers, actions, words, thoughts, and activities?
Steve Nofel is co-pastor of Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church.