By Rev. Merianna Harrelson, Pastor New Hope Christian Fellowship

I’m a terrible gardener. It might have something to do with the fact that the only gardening I had experience with growing up was when my brothers and I spit watermelon seeds off our porch and we unintentionally grew a small watermelon patch. Perhaps it made me think that all gardening just happened without much intention or planning.

When we decided to plant a small vegetable garden at our house, Sam who was born and raised in the Peedee, showed me that there was much more to gardening. There was planning, planting, weeding, and watering. Some of those needed to happen on a daily basis! It was a lot of work. I tried to be diligent in my gardening but I wasn’t very good. I would remember some days and forget others. The okra didn’t seem to mind, but the tomatoes were a lost cause.

My lack of gardening became a bit of a inside joke between my congregants and me. Whenever I started telling a story about our garden, I would hear the tickle of laughter spread through the sanctuary. It’s why I was shocked last year when one of my parishioners gifted me the Christmas cactus she had used as an illustration during a children’s sermon. Really there had to be someone a bit more capable to take care of a plant, than me?

I wonder if there are any pastors or ministers who feel the same way during the Advent season. Isn’t there someone a bit better suited to deliver the gospel message, than me? Isn’t there someone a bit better suited to talk about the Messiah being born into the world, than me? Isn’t there someone a bit better suited to offer hope in the midst of all the brokenness and hurt in this world, than me?

And yet the promise of the Advent season is that there is hope in the midst of the fragility of the human form. There is light in the midst of the darkness of a world in conflict. Miracles can happen.

I know because I walked into my kitchen just a couple of weeks ago and guess what was blooming? A Christmas cactus from last Advent. A gift of hope and faith in the miraculous and mysterious nature of this season. Thanks be to God for bright, pink reminders of this truth.