Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Pastors – Pastor Tia of Christ the King, July 01, 2020

Pastor Tia’s Devotion for July 01, 2020:

“Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.” (Dr. William Butler, 17th Century English Writer)

I fully agree. Doubtless God didn’t make a better berry. (Sorry, raspberry, currant, blackberry…). One of my best times in my life was when I lived on a farm in Manitoba, Canada. My host-parents mostly had large fields of broccoli and carrots. And then there were some strawberry fields behind our house. I was in paradise.

A person holding a baby

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Paradise fits the notion that strawberries are pretty churchy. It’s the berry connotated with Mary, Mother of God. Why? Because it blossoms in May, which traditionally is the month of Mary. Because the berry is heart-shaped and red like love. Legend has it that if you break a double strawberry in half and share it with someone, you will fall in love with each other.

And, because it tastes like paradise. That’s why you will find strawberries entwine around the feet of Jesus, Mary and Saints in paintings from medieval times. That’s why people used to plant strawberries on graves in memory and as a prefigurement of the paradise. You can even see Mary feeding a strawberry to little Jesus. She knew what was good.

Plus, the strawberry leaves are tripartite. So, it’s basically a trinitarian fruit = a godly fruit. I knew it. My taste buds can’t be wrong. To symbolize perfection and righteousness, medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a church fruit if there wasn’t any negative feelings around it as well. Some people saw in the strawberry an image of sinful temptation. (Yes, if you eat too many, your tummy will hurt.) Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck, which some claimed proved she was a witch. (Spoiler alert: She wasn’t.)

Strawberries stand for passion and healing. It’s the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside. It’s a fruit that carries its most precious parts outside. Which makes it vulnerable. It’s what we have to do when we want us and others to heal. We have to turn our inside out. We have to show our soft spots. To grow passionately in compassion.

Something we need a lot of these days. Let’s eat more strawberries and passionately work towards healing. Maybe start with sending someone a home-made strawberry cake.

Sweet greetings, Pr Tia!

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