Cover Image: A Time to Grow

A Time to Grow

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Member Reviews

When we read the gospels, there are two things that appear quite frequently in the life of Jesus: Food and Feast. Matthew, Mark, and Luke detail the parables related to sowing seeds. Mark collects several parables of Jesus that connect the seed parables with the kingdom of God. John structures his narrative according to the feast schedules (Passover, Purim, Tabernacles, etc). Using these metaphors, Jesus teaches us about faith and the kingdom of God. Taking a leaf from the gospels, author Kara Eidson introduces us to a unique way of observing the season of Lent. Inspired by her faith and her love for food, Eidson shares with us spiritual lessons from our everyday food choices. Lamenting at how a new generation who lives in cities is lacking a basic understanding of our favourite foods, she seeks to connect common produce with faith matters. Spurred by a desire to connect with her congregation familiar with rural living, she becomes more sensitized to the relationship between what we eat and where the food comes from. Written for small groups for use during the season of Lent, the purpose of this book is to make these connections more authentic in the hope that whenever we are eating or drinking with friends and family during mealtimes, we will be able to appreciate far beyond the food and faith relationship, and be guided toward gratitude the farming community who made it all possible, and ultimately to the One who had blessed us all: Our God in Heaven.

Traditionally, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and Eidson starts most appropriately with the humble soil beginnings. The quality of the food we grow depends on the quality of the soil they grow in. Cultivating the soil means recognizing that barren soil could be redeemed by turning them over and adding fertilizer. It's a powerful metaphor to show us that our lives too need to be "turned over" from time to time. Like searching for a house, seeking one with sufficient sunshine on the lawn and garden reminds us of living a life that is regularly under the light of Christ. The ways of the world can also creep into the life of believers. Like the pandemic that recently resulted in an upsurge of hoarding and panic buying, Christians need to be careful not to let the ways and worries of the world influence the way they live. Reflecting on water, we learn that there are many ways water can refresh, rejuvenate, and restore us. Things from bathing to dirty dishes remind us constantly the blessed power of water as a cleansing agent. We learn of how light inspires; how the eating of fruits could reveal many spiritual aspects of restoration. As Lent draws to a close, Eidson shares the predicament of how we could celebrate Palm Sunday on the one hand, and on the other hand, lament the events leading up to Good Friday, or Passion of Christ. There are also other resources such as children's activities, community spiritual practices, liturgies, sermon starters, etc to help us prepare for Lent.

My Thoughts
I like this book. Right from the very beginning, I was hooked. Eidson's start from the ground soil up is particularly inspiring because of the close connection our human bodies have with the soil. The word "human" is derived from the Latin word "humus," which means soil or earth. This is related to humility and the humble beginnings of every human person from the womb and eventually to the tomb. We are but a moment while God is forever. The life that we live in the present is a gift for us to cherish. God has blessed us with many things and the season of Lent is to be used as a reminder of how He has blessed us with food, feast, and faith. Sometimes, people see Lent merely as a time of abstention, of fasting, of spiritual disciplines, and of controlled diets. The author shows us more. Lent is also a time of connecting using everyday things we can commonly see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. The framework is simple. As we progress through the 40 days of Lent, leading up to Holy Week and Easter, each day is an opportunity to reflect on the grace of God and to praise our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Blessed Saviour. With the resources given to us, we can invite more people into appreciating the significance of Lent each day of the week, instead of merely on Sundays when the people of God gather.

I also like the way the author is intentional about helping readers connect with the items concerned.
Even a stubborn blueberry stump becomes a lesson to teach us faith in terms of courage, to trust God to take care of the stubborn brambles of our lives. There are some things in our lives that do not seem to go away no matter how hard we try to get rid of them. Things like poor habits or temptations that we cannot seem to run away from. The harder we try, the harder they grip. Letting go of our impatience also means letting God take care of our limited strengths. Perhaps, the way Eidson has taught us about using everyday food to connect to faith could inspire us to do the same for many other things as we practice the presence of God each day.

This book is a most appropriate resource to use for Lent 2022, and beyond.

Kara Eidson has pastored in rural, suburban, and urban settings. She holds a degree in psychology from Missouri State University and an MDiv from Duke Divinity School. After ordination in 2010, Eidson served four years as the United Methodist campus minister at the University of Kansas. She currently serves a UMC in Topeka, Kansas. Eidson and her husband love spending time tending to their garden with their ten chickens and two goats.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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Interesting premise which I haven't seen recently. I recommend for those wanting to study the Bible deeper, especially during this Lenten season.

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