Pastoral Reflection, September 23, 2022
One of the most pleasant surprises of moving to Minnesota 14 years ago was the lush richness of the fruit and vegetable growing season and the plentiful bounty of the harvest. I have spent much of my life in areas of the country deeply steeped in agriculture — from Southwest Nebraska (as an infant and toddler) to Weld County Colorado (one of the top producing agricultural counties in the nation). I’ve lived in Central Kansas and Central Missouri — both areas known for farming and ag production. I have worked in and walked through wheat, corn, milo, and sugar beet fields; thrown hay bales and stacked bags of pinto beans and corn; gathered turkey eggs and wrangled with milk cows; set irrigation tubes and cleaned out animal pens — and I was a town boy, not a farm kid. But I have never experienced the richness of the garden as I have here.
Last weekend, my wife and I visited the Northeast Farmers Market in Minneapolis. The vendor tables were brimming with large ripe tomatoes, rich bundles of greens, onions, carrots, beets, potatoes, broccoli, and more. We picked up a lovely purple cauliflower, a large head of fresh cabbage, and long string beans (among other things) – enough goodness to fill two large canvas bags.
On Sunday afternoon, I swung by the South Saint Anthony Park Community Garden to pick up and deliver the weekly harvest to Seal Hi-Rise, a public housing community I served while leading Lydia Place from 2014–2020. The Sunday Table program began in the Summer of 2016, when Lydia and the community garden partnered to share the harvest from three full garden plots with the under-served residents living at Seal. Last Sunday’s crop was rich and abundant, and when I arrived, there were already residents anxiously waiting to pick their favorites. I am thankful for the master gardeners who nurture the crops and collect the weekly harvest. I am thankful for the Seal residents, Bob and Melissa, who volunteer week after week to manage the distribution. And although I am just the volunteer delivery guy these days, I am grateful to check in once a week with those in a community I previously served as pastor.
And although we are still in the midst of a rich harvest time, I am reminded this cool and rainy afternoon that the seasons will soon change, the vegetable harvest will come to end, the crops will whither, and long winter will set in. But I am also reminded that God’s bounty never ends… it simply takes different form during different seasons. With God, there is always a rich harvest. The bounty that nourished and fed us a season ago are not the things that necessarily nourish us now. And the things that nourish us now are not necessarily the things that will do so in the coming season. It is not always up to us to decide. But it is our call — our faithful duty — to embrace the harvest that God holds forth and offers to us. Now. And into the future.