The Resurrection of Compost

“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body… So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power… For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”     -1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-43, 53

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On my kitchen counter sits a small, shiny cylinder with a tight fitting lid that has air holes in it and also two layers of filtering materiel. This is my compost bucket. I have this because my wife bought it for me; she got really tired of looking at and smelling my open air bowl of compost that usually got left on the counter well after I was finished chopping veggies.

I’ve been composting for a number of years now. I am not as attentive to my compost pile as I could be or perhaps even should be, but I am dedicated to it. Veggie scraps, used paper towels, coffee grounds, egg shells, grass clippings, dried leaves and yard waste all go into my compost pile. But the funny thing is, they never come out of my compost pile. I toss on there banana peels and orange rinds and even chicken poop, and what comes out is rich, life-giving fertilizer for my garden.

We are in Lent now, a time to discipline ourselves as Christians so that we might be better Christians. My last blog post, on Ash Wednesday, explored the miracle of dirt, the fact that only when something is cast aside and laid down in the dirt may it be resurrected. But what is resurrected?

That is a question much debated by theologically minded smarties. In Matthew 22 some Sadducees (who did not believe in resurrection) tried to trap Jesus with an odd scenario of a woman married to seven brothers, each deceased, and a false understanding of resurrection. John explained to the Church, “…what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when [Jesus] is revealed, we will be like him…” (1 John 3:2) And Paul, in correcting some false teachers within the Corinthian Church, explains that what is resurrected will be as different from what dies as a plant is from a seed.

As Christians we believe not only in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but in our own resurrection through and with Jesus Christ. But I believe there is more to resurrection than our bodies and/or our souls being recreated and birthed into the Divine and Eternal Heaven. I believe there is also a resurrection of our compost.

During Lent, we are encouraged to give up something, to participate in a fast. Ideally the time and energy we have devoted to that thing will instead be devoted to Christ, and we will grow in our relationship with our Lord. But I want to suggest a perspective on Lent that goes beyond spending a few extra minutes in devotion, prayer and service.

The practice of giving up something for Lent is supposed to teach us how to give up our sinful living. When we repent and lay ourselves down in the ash heap, it is a dying to ourselves. In the same way, we are to daily die to ourselves. (Romans 6:1-11) In other words, we are to daily cast away our sins, our sin habits, our selfishness, our self-centered worldview, and all other things that hinder us from fully living into Christ’s resurrected kingdom.

Consider my compost bin on my counter. It is where I place the refuse of my day, the things that will rot, will stink, will grow mold and endanger my health if I hold onto them. I cannot keep those things in my house. I cannot keep them near at hand. I cannot keep my compost in my house, the place where I live. But when I discard them, when I get them out of my daily life, when I set them far away from me and leave them there for God to take care of, that thing that would make me sick becomes something that will grow new life.

In the same way, God desires us to discard the things that will rot, the things that will stink, the things that will endanger our spiritual health if we cling to them. Get rid of it! the Lord beseeches us. What good will it do you to cling to all this, and yet lose your very soul? (Matthew 16:26)

But when we discard it, it is not loss, it is compost. God is the God of Resurrection, after all. God designed the miracle of dirt. And God resurrects our compost. Put another way, when we get rid of all that sin that keeps us away from God, when we cast it away and let God do to it what God will, God resurrects it into something life-giving, something glorious, something as different from our sin as a plant is from its seed.

Are you willing to cast aside the rubbish in your life? What are you clinging to even as it rots and stinks and molds in your hand? Are you ready to experience the resurrection of compost?

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