The Growing Season

| April 22nd, 2024

Dear Beloved Community,

If the pollen count tells us anything, it’s that spring is springing! These April weeks are dazzling, aren’t they? The cherry blossoms and tulips lead the way into hot pink azaleas, followed soon by lush dogwood trees and hanging baskets spilling over with colorful impatiens and lantana. The grass is brightening and thickening, and new growth is popping out of bushes and trees. Near where I live and go walking, Reynolda Gardens are readying for their annual spring plant sale with hundreds of annuals, perennials, and tropicals – and maybe some vegetables and herbs too. Perhaps like we’ll do this weekend, you have started your summer vegetable garden and will eagerly tend it into delicious treats to enjoy. And one of you told me that in case I can’t find mulch, don’t worry – Home Depot has bags by the thousands, for around $3 a bag!

It is the growing season in our neck of the woods. Easter’s spirit of new life is evident everywhere we turn outside, beckoning us to press our hands into the soil, to cock our ears toward the birdsong around us, to lift our eyes to the skies and the hills, for in the ancient words of the Psalmist, “from whence cometh my help.” Because, as Audrey Hepburn reminds us, “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

This spring around First on Fifth, it is the growing season for us too as we turn wholly toward creation. I’ll be preaching from the Psalms in a series called “All Nature Sings,” and our worship will reflect God’s good gifts of the created world around us. Our Adult Ministry Team will be hosting – along with Jill Knight’s beautiful and generous teaching – a four-week study on the book, Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation by Fred Bahnson (who taught for a season at Wake Forest School of Divinity) and Norman Wirzba (who taught for a season at Duke Divinity School). Books are available on Sunday in the Commons at 10:30am for $12 a piece, and the class will be held starting this Wednesday from 12-1pm. Affinity groups offer time to be outside together, like birding with Roper this Saturday, walking with Terry, Russell and Susan or running with Ryan and Dean on Thursdays – read the newsletter for more! And this energy on our call to live reconciled lives with the created world will compel us forward over the months ahead, with further opportunities to learn and discuss how we respond faithfully to the climate crisis. 

All in all, this spring we’re turning our yearlong “tending” energy right outside – to skies and water, to ground and hills, to birds and bugs and butterflies and bears, to humans and creatures and everything God created and called good. I hope you’ll lean into these shared experiences with a wonder and curiosity to learn!

But this Sunday, we’ll enjoy the final of three weeks of guest preachers as we welcome home our friend, Tim Hughes Williams. Tim grew up at First Baptist on Fifth – and as the preacher’s kid, nonetheless! – and is a Presbyterian pastor. Tim, along with his husband, Perry, and two kids, are in the liminal season of relocation from Baltimore to Boston. It’s gift to us that part of the transition includes several weeks in Winston-Salem with David and Joani! We are all in for a treat to have Tim lead us in worship this week.

Together in God’s work of Love,Pastor Emily