Thursday, November 11, 2010
Gennesaret-Garden of Riches
There is an area of land, a valley, unique in all the earth. Some of Christ's most beloved teachings were given from this very spot. Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Mustard Seed and Parable of the Leaven to name a few.
The place I’m referring to is Gennesaret. Ancient Gennesaret was not that large being only two miles wide, four miles long and harp shaped. Its richness and fertility caused it to be known as the “Garden of God”, the "Garden of Riches" and the "Prince's Garden."
The land in Christ's day was so fertile that there was not a plant its soil refused to produce. The walnut, which is a tree that delights in a most wintry climate grew along side the palm tree, which thrives in heat. At the same time there were figs and olives, which required a milder atmosphere, ripening deliciously everywhere among their brother plants.
Plants that would normally compete and drive one another out also flourished side by side giving us a picture of the non-competitive environment God would have in the Church. So here in this place we find any number of different species normally requiring different climates and atmospheres all happily thriving.
Weeds were unwelcome in Gennesaret and seldom found. The good plantings so occupied the ground that there was little opportunity for a thorn or thistle to take root.
The fertility of Gennesaret was capable of supplying grapes and figs through ten months of the year. The growing season was so long that if you were delayed in planting early, even a seed planted late could still become part of the harvest. A good word for those of us who may have missed an opportunity or came to Christ later in life. He has given us seed and the promise of fruitfulness. There is time. I believe this delightful land is a territory God would like to place under cultivation in each one of us.
The fruits of Gennesaret were of such high repute among the people of the day that the Rabbis would ban them from Jerusalem at the time of the feasts, so that the worshipers would not be tempted to come just to enjoy the fruit. Shame on those Rabbis. One bite and you could not help but praise the God who created such lusciousness.
History made many changes in the Holy Land and Gennesaret fell upon hard times. Centuries of neglect made sad changes in this area. It became largely overgrown with thorn-bushes and thistles and no longer yielded the fruit for which it had become so famous. It became instead famous for the largest crop of thistles known to man.
The good news is that between recent purchases by German Catholics and the fact that a considerable portion of the land has passed back into the hands of the Jews, the Garden of Riches is almost entirely cleared of thorns and thistles and is on the road to once again yielding its ancient generosity of fruits.
There are three modern territories in our lives that need the soil of ancient Gennesaret to be cultivated there. Our church life, our home life and our thought life.
In any given church there are competing interests; so many different personalities, so many different points of view, so many differing approaches to life in general. Have you ever noticed how easy it becomes to get on one another’s nerves if we’re not careful. (Fruits and nuts growing side by side-remember?)
In the early church we see in the book of Acts that they had all things common. These brothers and sisters were working together with a common good in mind. The spirit of Gennesaret in our church life today promotes the development of a rich diversity and proficiency of spiritual gifts without envy or competition. All are encouraged and nourished toward developing their gifts. It is not reserved for a sacred few. All are trusting the Master Gardener to shape and direct. All are recognized as essential be they palm or walnut, grape or fig.
That non-competative Gennesaret spirit within a family causes the husband to prefer the wife and the wife to prefer the husband. What causes the wife to flourish causes the husband to flourish, and vice versa. My wife is a talented person and she has lately mined a rich vein of creativity. My heart is thrilled! The good that is happening to her might as well be happening to me, because in effect it is.
Where children are concerned there are no favorite sons or daughters. All are heirs. Such is how God wants His Church to be. When was the last time you heard God the Father ask, "Why can't you be more like your brother?" NEVER!
Finally, within our own thoughts, when we discover competing wants and desires, God will help us sort it all out. He will help us find the way for all of it to grow together if it is of Him, side by side, just as He arranged for the ground in Gennesaret to support the plant life that one would never have expected. It is God who knows how to blend our talents for the Kindgdom. Thoughts contrary to life and fruitfulness (fears and failures) are crowded out as the garden yields its goodness. Thoughts not rooted in the Kingdom, He prunes to inspire growth.
Ancient Gennesaret was about abundance and delightful fruit that nourished and satisfied, and grew in a cooperative atmosphere. Gennesaret today is a Kingdom place. It is the rich soil God has prepared in the very heart of us to produce the fruit this world is crying out for. Repentant fruit, joyously juicy, satisfying fruit. Fruit that smells like Heaven. Fruit that believes. Fruit that sustains. Fruit that heals. Fruit that remembers. Fruit that remains.
The next time you find yourself in prayer, quiet your thoughts, place your hand over your heart and breathe out the word "Gennesaret." Then walk out into that land and claim it for Christ. Smell its sweetness.
“Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
Abundant Life Assembly
By Rev. John LaMantia 11/7/10