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My mom is a gardener, and let me tell you: there are few better environments for a young boy than a gardener’s household.  All those creepy crawlies that boys are instinctively drawn to (spiders, snails, etc.)– my mom was never grossed out by them; she would just explain how they helped or hurt our garden.  In particular, she was fond of earthworms in our garden; earthworms introduce much-needed nutrients and break up the tough Tennessee clay soil by their burrowing.  Besides the aphid-eating ladybug, the earthworm might just be a gardener’s best friend.  Whenever a big storm flooded our yard, you would often find my mom and me scooping up earthworms and putting them back in the soil before robins could swoop down and turn them into dinner.  Even though I hadn’t done this in years, the idea stuck with me.

I was on my way to the gym this morning after a storm (because, in Tampa, it’s always after a storm) when I noticed a worm out on the pavement in the parking lot.  Birds were squawking in the nearby trees, so I felt like I should act fast to help the little guy out.  I picked up a small, pointed stick and did my best to maneuver it under the worm, unintentionally poking and prodding him in the process.  The worm flinched and convulsed wildly as I tried to do this, and I soon abandoned the effort.  It was only then that I remembered that –aside from bare hands– the best strategy for picking up a worm is to grab a leaf or a piece of paper and gently scoop the worm up to transplant it back into the soil.  Then it dawned on me: this is kind of how outreach works too.

At 1st & 3rd last night, we shared a mutual frustration: Why do many Christians guilt-trip each other for not going to church instead of just expressing joy at seeing each other again?  As the popular saying goes, why are Christians the only army who shoot their wounded?  Thankfully, we agreed that Bayshore does a pretty good job of loving before interrogating.  When we encounter someone who hasn’t been to church in a while, it’s not our job to poke and prod and scrutinize them.  Instead, we need to scoop them up lovingly and bring them back to a place where we can all enrich each other.

Grace and Peace,