Can a truckload of pumpkins provide a glimpse of the Kingdom of God?
The questions a set-up, I already have an answer. You may have guessed that my answer would be “yes”. Truly a truck full of pumpkins has the potential to provide a glimpse of God’s Kingdom, but it depends on what happens with that truck, and what happens with the pumpkins.
Yesterday our church, Asbury United Methodist Church in Pasadena, Texas, received a shipment of pumpkins for our annual pumpkin patch. I was inside preparing for a Bible study class as the truck was being unloaded, but at one point I stopped and wandered out to the grassy area between our church and the road where I found a sea of orange spherical fruits (yes, the pumpkin is a fruit). The more impressive sight was the sea of people – ages ranging from 1 to 77. I’m told there were 60 people putting their time and effort into unloading a semi-truck full of pumpkins. Some were in the truck where there was little air. Those people passed the pumpkins to the door. From there another battalion of folks loaded wheelbarrows and arms and carted the inventory out to the pallets eagerly awaiting there presence (you may not believe this, but that sentence could have been even MORE verbose than that!). All these hard-working children and youth and adults were having a great time.
You may be thinking that this was where I saw the Kingdom of God in a pumpkin patch – yes and no. Sure, the joy of being together is a part of that heavenly reality we look forward to in an even greater way when the Kingdom of God comes in its fullness, but that wasn’t what struck me the most.
So just what was it that captivated me? Well, it was the faces in the crowd who were new to Asbury. Among those 60 people were several who had just been recently visiting the church. Others had been here just over a year or so. It was a delight to see these people engaged in the life of our church – even if it was just unloading pumpkins. And yet, even that wasn’t what caught my attention the most. What I saw out there on a grassy field filled with pumpkins and a big 18-wheeler truck, was the longer-time members who were engaged in joyful conversation with the newer families. THAT is a sign and a glimpse of the Kingdom (and a natural part of this church, praise God). When we find a greater joy in welcoming others, when just being with friends isn’t our sole endeavor, when we take time to connect with the stranger among us, that is where we see and experience the heart of God.
I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to be a part of what God is doing in this place. To know that families found a place where they are welcomed and a place where they are free to be involved fills my soul with such great pride – the good kind. I am blessed to be given the opportunity to see God at work.
It may seem strange that a pumpkin patch delivery event could be used by God to show his love and grace, but check out the Gospel of John. The first miracle Jesus does in that gospel is changing water into wine for a wedding (John 2:1-11). A strange place for a miracle, but there was no mistaking the fact that God was at work.
And so I claim the same to be true in a pumpkin laden field next to a church in the southern part of Pasadena, Texas. A strange place for God to do a mighty work – but He did. There is no doubt, no mistaking the truth that God is at work in this place.
Holy high-five to you, Mike.