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Every month has something good going for it, and when I think of July, homegrown tomatoes sit at the top of the list. You can slice and dice and spice your way all the way up to the Food Network, but as a culinary masterpiece, few things can match a simple one-slice homegrown tomato sandwich.

In July, I have them. My tomato patch is small — a four by sixteen foot planting bed against the west side of our house. It’s not the ideal spot, since part of it doesn’t get full sun, but I try to make up for that by working good mulch into the soil every year, along with a good dose of cow manure, an occasional shot of Miracle-Gro, and water as needed.

Good dirt is important. For example, yesterday’s lectionary text, often called “The Parable of the Sower,” isn’t really about a sower, or even the seed: it’s about the dirt. You can put the same seed in different kinds of soil, and get vastly different results.

If the fruit we produce as Christians were to be thought of as tomatoes, you could clearly tell the difference between earthy folk whose rich faith produces the juicy genuine article, and those whose cultural Christianity turns out the styrofoam-flavored hydroponic hothouse variety, some of which grow with no soil at all.

No matter how I tend the vines, my tomatoes tend to start out big and get smaller as the summer goes on. The smaller ones are no less tasty, they just don’t have quite the visual appeal of that one-slice sandwich variety. Add a little mayonnaise, sprinkle on a little salt & pepper, and you have a little taste of heaven on a plate.

It can be a sloppy taste, which is why a good tomato sandwich is best eaten while standing over the kitchen sink. I don’t know if there will be kitchen sinks in heaven, but if there’s food to eat, homegrown tomato sandwiches are bound to be on the menu.

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