My mother’s tomato garden is the first place I learned, unknowingly, the sacred rhythm of God’s presence. This learning in the garden prepared me for my adoption of the church calendar. Christianity and my love of garden fit together organically because of the similarities of the sacred rhythm between the two cycles.
Was Jesus’ baptism essentially a photo opportunity? Was Jesus thinking, “Well, I don’t really need to get baptized right now, but you know, for the good of the people—to show them that I’m one of them, I really ought to go through with this.” I’d venture to say that most of the time, this isn’t a question we bring to this particular story in Scripture: Did Jesus Christ need to get baptized?
Last Sunday was a big dill at Farm Church. For one day, we change our name to Pickle Church. “What’s that?” you ask? Well, try to imagine a congregation making about 80 jars of pickles in the middle of worship. Pickling + Church = Pickle Church. Why? That may be the more pertinent question. The "why" behind Pickle Church begins with a simple cucumber and an acute awareness of...
Still, we wondered, What are we doing? A little more context. This question stemmed from a critical reflection of the last five months of Farm Church (which, by the way, have been the only five months of Farm Church). And by “What are we doing?” we meant, “Are we just creating one more facet of the institutional church? One more outpost of a giant organization that’s managing a slow decline? And (gulp) are we becoming a cool, hip church with a gardening club?”
Looks like a big ol’ lawn, doesn’t it? It does and it is, but what you can’t quite see in this photo is that there is almost no topsoil. Underneath the grass is a giant sheet of red clay that’d been baking in the hot North Carolina sun for years and years. In fact, when we tried to till this soil with some pretty powerful tillers, the clay said, “No, I don’t think so.”
Last week we at Farm Church produced our first wheelbarrow full of composted soil. Maybe you hear that and you think (perhaps sarcastically), “Wow. Soil. Incredible. You don’t say.” To which I say, “Yes, I know! Soil made from banana peels, grass clippings, carrot peels, melon rinds, eggshells, wood chips… Rick, black, living soil! Yes!” Because I’m not just talking about any old dirt or even the “good stuff” you buy in a bag at the hardware store. The soil I’m referring to is...
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
These words capture my imagination for what it means to be alive. Like many others, I sometimes consider myself as having a “spiritual side,” or I think about spirituality as it’s simply a facet of my being. But what if we are not physical human begins having (or not having) spiritual experiences? What if instead we are spiritual beings living into a physical reality?
After last week's shootings, I scrapped Sunday's sermon in favor of some words that might help us better understand racism in our culture. Folks who gathered at Farm Church each took a quote from the table and we read them aloud, forming a psalm of lament that we're striving to hear and understand. Below is the complete list of quotes...
Part of my own joy in this work is that Farm Church has people. People who show up in their grubbies for church, roll up their sleeves, and attack Bermuda grass – people who “jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows.” Having dreamed about Farm Church for so long, I can’t quite convey my constant joy and surprise that this thing is happening!
On Sunday morning, May 1, sixty-four people gathered at SEEDS in Durham for the first Farm Church worship service! So much to say and so much to process as we give heartfelt thanks for this experience that was almost two years in the making - two years of visioning, praying, networking, thinking, planning, worrying, searching, praying, deciding, packing, moving, unpacking, praying, seeking, praying, praying, and praying...
“Before” pictures are often pictures we’ll never share unless we become satisfied with we come to know as “After.” “Before-I-lost-20-pounds” or “before-the-bathroom-makeover” – these snapshots won’t see the light of day if the weight stays on and the tile doesn’t get laid. It makes me wonder how many wonderful “before” pictures find themselves languishing like unopened time capsules, simultaneously memorializing an aspiration and shaming a lack of progress.
On Monday of this week Allen and I Skyped with Brandon, our good friend and Farm Church partner who is currently living in Singapore. As we move toward Farm Church’s first worship service and first seeds going in the ground, we’ve been committed to meeting together, even if one of us on the other side of the planet.
Last week I had the privilege and pleasure of speaking with Ben Johnston-Krase and Allen Brimer, the co-planters of Farm Church in Durham, North Carolina. The idea for Farm Church started with a dream Ben had and shared with Allen about accepting a call to a church that turned out to be a farm. His dream planted a seed that has quickly grown over the past two years into Farm Church, and they will worship together for the first time on May 1.
During the liturgical season of Advent this year, I have been reading and exploring myths about heroes. Hercules, Ulysses, Superman, Frodo Baggins, Mary, mother of Jesus, Luke Skywalker, Jack and the Beanstalk, and even Santa Claus make up a few of the many ancient and contemporary hero myths that comprise our understandings of who and what a hero is.
I have an urge to rewrite this story. In my version, ten bridesmaids take their lamps and go to meet the bridegroom. Five of them are foolish and five are wise, but they’re all close friends, so it doesn’t matter much. When they arrive, the foolish bridesmaids realize they’ve forgotten their oil, but to their relief, one of the wise bridesmaids, Betty, has extra. “I figured at least one of you knuckleheads would forget her oil!” she says, smiling. The bridesmaids all share the oil, fill their lamps, and wait late into the night for the groom to show up. They pass the time telling foolish and wise stories, and when the groom eventually shows up, they tease him for being so late. Everybody goes inside and the party continues.
In July of last year I had a dream that I had received a call to serve a new church and that I had accepted that call sight unseen. When I arrived on my first day, I discovered that this church was, in fact, a farm. And I woke up.
As dreams go, this one was short on detail but strikingly vivid with its suggestion: a church on a farm… a farm as a church… farm church?