Note: This post is dedicated to my friends at First Presbyterian Church, Grenada, MS, who celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the building of their church this Sunday, June 22, “Preservation Day.”

I grew up eating homemade fruit preserves on toast and biscuits. My first experience with them was long ago at Grandma’s house. She had a number of fig trees in a side yard of her sprawling home on Madison Street in Albany, Georgia. And it was often my task to go out and bring in the fruit. The reward for my labor was great: sticky sweet, almost candied, figs in syrup covering buttered biscuits the size of cat heads. They were irresistible.

And guess what? I have a huge fig tree in my back yard that’s loaded with figs. Fortunately, my wife learned from her mother how to make lots of different kinds of preserves. So there have been jars of sweet figs in our pantry and fridge on many occasions, and there will be again this season. Some to keep. Some to give away.

In case you’re wondering where I’m going with this, let me end the suspense or the boredom, as the case may be. You and I are God’s preserves, lovingly and carefully made, selected by God’s hand, prepared to give delight to him and to the world. Our life together in a community of faith is a sweet taste of the coming kingdom of God’s peace and justice. God’s dream is that the world will find this concoction called “the Church” as irresistible as I did my Grandma’s figs, as amazing as I regard my wife’s preserves, and want to be part of it.

We are God’s gifts to all who long to have their eyes brightened and their senses excited, who want to know that there is simple goodness in a world gone mad with excess and evil. Fig, pear, strawberry, whatever you or I might be, our ministry can and does bring joy to the world as real and full as I knew as a kid at that kitchen table so long ago.

© 2008 by Tom Cheatham