Grandpa's Garden

"Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!" (Matthew 13:8-9)

Begin this lesson by teaching children the meaning of a parable. Parables are brief allegorical stories that convey a moral lesson, spiritual principle, or universal truth. Jesus used this type of teaching because parables made an impression upon people's minds. The people could easily relate to the imagery of a farmer or gardener working in the fields. It was a job that required time, patience, and diligence.

The following is a modern-day parable about gardening:

My name is Debbie. As a child, I loved summer vacation because I visited Grandpa. One of my most important summer activities was helping Grandpa care for his vegetable garden. Grandpa particularly loved growing tomatoes.

I remember running to the backyard garden as soon as I arrived at Grandpa's home. I checked the growth of the vegetables.

I would ask, "Are the beans growing on the plants yet?"

"No, not yet," Grandpa would say. "Wait awhile. Pretty soon."

"Are there tomatoes on the vines?" I wondered. Yes, small, dark green and round.

Grandpa would say, "We have to watch and see how big they will grow."

Each day, part of my job was to report on the progress of the garden. The ground was rocky. Some days, especially after a rainstorm, I would clear the shale away from the plants and loosen the dirt. The water would not nourish the plants when the ground was too hard.

Occasionally, days and days would pass with no rain. In the evenings, I would help Grandpa carry buckets of water and use a sprinkling can to water these precious plants. I knew not to dump the bucket of water on the plants. Dumping the water would erode the dirt from the plant and leave the roots unprotected. Carefully, I would loosen the dirt around the base of the plant so the water would soak in. I watered the garden using a sprinkling can. It took a long time, but I played in the water. Sometimes I was soaked more than the plants.

The tomatoes became heavy as they ripened to a pale yellow. I helped Grandpa tie his old neckties around the branches and the stakes that he had driven into the ground. This procedure ensured that the branches would not break as the weight of the tomatoes increased.

Finally, one day Grandpa would say, "Debbie, today is the day!" The color of the tomato was not too yellow and not too red — just perfect for picking. It was time to pick the tomatoes. I especially enjoyed picking some of the ripe tomatoes for our lunch. I searched for just the right shade of red. The taste of a fresh picked juicy tomato was the best!

I loved helping Grandpa. I still love the juicy, sweet taste of a fresh-picked tomato.

Prayer

Thank you God for helping us to listen and to learn. Help us to care for our faith as much as Debbie cared for the garden and the tomato plants. We want our lives to be juicy and sweet too. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever been asked to do a job and then complained about doing it?
  • Why did Debbie not complain about her job?
  • What was really important about the tomatoes?
  • To grow the best tomatoes, what did Debbie and Grandpa need to do?
  • How does this parable relate to Christian stewardship?

Ruth M. Blum is an ordained United Methodist Deacon who serves as Associate Pastor of Children and Families at Dove of the Desert United Methodist Church in Glendale, Arizona.

Posted in2005.

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