The Field, the Farmer, and The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

The Field, the Farmer, and The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 7/2/2015

By Jake Hall

That is quite a title, right? I feel like I have read too many manifestos as of late. So, I will add one more to the mix. Wendell Berry is an American novelist, poet, activist, and cultural critic. I think the most important thing Berry is though is a farmer. Maybe we can learn something from farmer poets about abiding the season in which we live. The poem you will find below reminds me to do two things: practice resurrection and plant sequoias. The Psalms remind me that this is God’s work to which we are called. 

A manifesto of another sort imagines God as the farmer who tends the earth. Psalm 65 reads: “You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.” 

Ellen Davis writes, “Psalm 65 shows us what that divinely nurtured goodness looks like eons later in one place, in and around  Jerusalem, the psalmist’s home. This farmer-poet, as I imagine her or him, writes a verbal icon of God the maker of heaven and earth, driving home at the end of a long hot day in the fields, the wagon so loaded that the grain is falling over the sides and God’s wagon tracks “drip richness,” as the psalmist says. Now enter into this icon, she writes. Just sit here beside God in the wagon for a few moments and look around you. With your eyes closed, but the eyes of your heart enlightened, experience the world as God does.” 

We tend to be long-sighted when it comes to resurrection and shortsighted when it comes to investing in the future. What would your life be like if you realized that resurrection is more than just a future state, but a regenerative space in which God now works? What kind of hope must you hold in what God may do in the future to begin to plant sequoias? Consider God the farmer and the cry from the field in the Psalm, and the poem from the mad farmer. Practice resurrection, plant sequoias and be blessed.

Manifesto by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

They Do Not Grieve Alone

They Do Not Grieve Alone

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 6/28/2015

By Jake Hall

In the host of responses to last week’s tragedy, I was struck by this liturgy used by so many congregations this week. May it be our prayer.

Breathless in Slovakia

Breathless in Slovakia

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 6/18/2015

By Carol Brown

I’ve seen many mountain ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and they are all amazingly beautiful. But the majesty of the High Tatra Mountains rising up in the backyard of this small village in Slovakia takes my breath away. As our mission team serves among the Slovak and Roma families in Vazec, our work is framed by rows of quaint houses, sheep and chickens on the side of the road, friendly neighbors calling out “Dobry den!” to the Americans, and the ever present but sometimes cloud-covered High Tatra Mountains.

The Mission Pack List

The Mission Pack List

By Jake Hall 

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 6/11/2015

Tomorrow our Mission Team departs for Slovakia. Today I imagine there will be a frenzy of packing for the trip and double-checking the checklist to make sure everything is ready. Checklist from Carol, check. Second checklist from Marsha, check. Travel documents, clothes, teaching materials, and even a box of crunch berry cereal for our long-suffering field personnel make up the list. The two most important things that we will bring with us will be open minds and open hearts for the Romany people.

Reflections on our Family Retreat

Reflections on our Family Retreat

By Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 6/4/2015

This past weekend I was blessed to take a group of Highland Hills families to Epworth By the Sea for a time of retreat. In this beautiful setting we experienced worship, fellowship, and service. We laughed together and cried together. We played hard and prayed harder. Most importantly, we found a deep connection to each other and to God.

Getting the Timing Right

Getting the Timing Right

Getting the Timing Right

By Jake Hall, published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 5/28/2015

Are your summer plans set? Summer is a contrast. There is both more time and even more to do! Summer booms with activity: HHBC Family Retreat, Jubilate, Mission Trip to Slovakia, family vacations, and summer camps. Summer also sees a slump in church attendance. Even though our days are longer and we have vacation weeks, it is more difficult to gather together, collaborate, and fellowship together. Are we too scattered to gather together in worship and mission and service? The question is: what will we do with more time?

Graduation Season

Graduation Season

By Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 5/21/2015

It’s that time of year again. No, not allergy season. It’s a time of celebration. A time of congratulations to those who have graduated from a field of study and now move on to the next chapter in their lives.

Recharging Sunday

Recharging Sunday

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 5/14/2015

Last week, the electric car company, Tesla, announced a new home battery system
capable of storing enough energy to power your home. The unit is capable of connecting to both residential solar systems and the traditional power grid. The Powerwall, as it is called, stores excess solar power for use when the sun isn't shining or stores cheap power from the grid when rates are low, allowing for use when rates rise. It is peace of mind for those whose power goes out every time there is a storm since it acts as a backup power supply without the use of a generator. At least once a week, I neglect to plug in my cell phone. How would I remember to plug in my house?