Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Moving into the harvest
Isaiah 28: 23-25
23 Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,[a]
barley in its plot,[b]
and spelt in its field?
There is an important lesson I've learned this summer about the importance of agriculture. Summer is the growing season that keeps our community and world fed throughout the entire calendar year. For the third summer I've taken part of a farm share program with Roots and Wings Family Farm in Cherry Creek NY. Each summer, a friend and I split the cost and the reward of a farm share and have fresh, local, organic veggies to enjoy from June through October. If you have been a part of this program this year, you'll know that First Lutheran Church of Jamestown has been the local distribution site each Tuesday afternoon. Being a part of this farm share means you partner in the effort of farming (our youth spent a day working at the farm), as well as the challenge and rewards of the work. Community and church members have had a chance to get to know new vegetables and each other. This is an additional harvest of new relationships has been a wonderful development.
Getting better connected to agriculture has given me the opportunity to grow in my own understanding of where food comes from and how small farms like Roots and Wings can feed 30 families throughout the summer. In addition to produce, Roots and Wings also sells organic eggs and better connects the Jamestown city community with a network of other sources of produce and meat products grown locally: berries, corn, beef and more!
I've learned the importance of rain and sun at the right times as well as the challenges of a too wet spring and a very dry starting season. This summer the yield has not been a big due to these extreme conditions, however there still has been a yield of produce to enjoy.
Youth and Family Ministry is something like local farming. The conditions are unpredictable, the season for growing is very busy, the faithful and strong hands needed to care for for the crops are always needed, weeding needs to happen, the sunlight of encouragement and the water of hope need to be applied daily. The time for harvest is not always what you expect, but there always is a unique harvest to be gathered into the storehouse.
The work and efforts in youth and family ministry at FLC this Summer have resulted in a bountiful harvest of spiritual formation, relationship building and faith development: 14 youth attended at least one week of summer camp at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center, 41 women took part in the "Unsqueezed" Book Club that gathered on four Wednesday evenings this summer, youth and adults took trips to Waldameer, Roots and Wings Farm, JBC Bowling night, Putt-Putt Golf, and had a blast at the Edborg's annual pool party (Thanks Roger and Kay for your hospitality!). Vacation Bible School was a partnership in goods and service with Holy Trinity, Bethel, Immanuel and First Lutheran Churches participating. Due to the additional help of this partnership of 45 volunteers and staff we were able to add a class for 14 pre-school children, lunch for the 54 youth and staff daily and spend a full week learning that, "God is wild about us!" Our VBS also gathered funds to support the Baer Family (local missionaries to Ethiopia), in their efforts to provide chickens for families affected by severe drought this year. Enough money was raised to provide 36 chickens for this "Chicks and kids for Chickens" project. On seven Sunday mornings in June and July, grandparents - parents and youth gathered together for "Family Devotions" and learned new ways to pray, study God's word and share their faith with others.
The harvest of summer 2011 has been a bountiful one indeed, but the harvest is not yet complete. It's important that we remember that this kind of harvest isn't limited to a single growing season like corn or tomatoes. Spiritual growth in youth and families is a kind of farming and work that happens all year round through confirmation classes, Thursday night youth group for middle and high school teens, concerts, service projects, Sunday worship, book clubs, Bible Study, outreach at local middle and high schools, craft nights, and Sunday school classes for all ages. Come be a part of the "farm share" that is youth and family ministry and learn how this harvest feeds others lives and yours as well!