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  • brentwoodfarmchurc


April 1, 2021

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love; that so filled by your spirit we might be recreated, and you can go forth to renew the face of the earth.

This earth I mean… renew the face of this earth; this almost 8.64 acres on the corner of Lone Tree Way and O’Hara Avenue in Bentwood.

What does it mean to renew the face of this earth? Does it mean homes for people who otherwise wouldn’t have one? Does it mean shelter for families who otherwise wouldn’t have any? Does it mean space for people to gather and find connection and community, in a world in which community is becoming a scarce commodity? Does it mean reparations for indigenous people, displaced so many years ago from this land, by people whose ancestors still demand their space, separateness, safety, freedom, exclusion from the alien and the foreigner? Does it mean growing food for people who are hungry? Or those whose bodies are fed but whose souls are starved? Who have lost touch with the source of the bread which gives them life; have become disconnected from the ground that provides for them, nurtures them, feeds them, sustains them, and increasingly who pursue practices and lifestyles that destroy the land, which will in turn destroy us?

Is it a place to shelter life – animals, birds, insects, flowers, plants, grasses? Is it a place to encourage pollinators like bees and butterflies to thrive in order to sustain our own human life?

So many people over the years have had so many ideas, visions, dreams for this land, including me. I want to see a community of faith here that is committed to God, and to each other, and to the land. That forms and fosters connection for people who are increasingly isolated, marginalized, and excluded – by choice or by circumstance. I want to see life, and laughter, and joy, and hope; and safety, and security, and belonging.

As I walk and pray the land speaks to me. I see things I haven’t seen before. I come to know and understand the vast network of creation that exists in this space – I see holes where animals find shelter, and in order to provide shelter for people we will have to destroy the shelter for the animals. I see hawks who feed on those animals in the great circle of life, and in order to feed people who are hungry we will need to remove the source of the hawks’ food. I see flowers that encourage bees and butterflies to gather, and in order to encourage people to gather here we will need to destroy the flowers that feed the bees and the butterflies. I see the insects who hum busily from flower to flower and rest atop the waving grass; and in order to provide space for people to rest from the busyness of their lives, we will need to remove the flowers and grass that provide rest for the insects. Where will they all go when this land is built upon?

What do we do when mission conflicts? When the desire to house people conflicts with the desire to preserve the integrity of God’s creation? What I do is I pray…

Lord I ask your blessing on this land. I ask your blessing on the people who are working so hard to bring mission, your will to this land. I ask that you open our eyes and hearts and minds and souls to see your will for it. To see how we can best use it for your purposes not ours; to set aside our own wants and needs and desires and ideas to pursue your will for this land; and yes, I know that means there probably isn’t just one answer. I understand that there are many ways, many paths, to your Kingdom, and you are with us on all of them and any of them; and I understand that it is our responsibility to make the decision as to what happens on this land. But I ask your guidance as we seek to do your will.

Life is a balance. We cannot stop meeting human need; our past decisions and choices have brought us here We have taken this path that has led to the overpopulation of the earth; that has led to the proliferation of people on the land, and we cannot change that. White men drove away the indigenous people who lived here before we came and who knew how to live in harmony and balance with the land. They understood that honoring the needs of the land was the way to satisfy their own needs. They took life only when they needed to feed themselves and they honored and respected the life that they took. They used land only for the barest minimum needed to survive and they respected the land. We need to seek a similar way forward that is in harmony and balance with the land that God created and gave to humankind to take care of; one that also meets human need.

The bible tells us that Sabbath is an important spiritual practice; so important that God devoted a whole day to it; the same amount of time that God took to create the earth, and the universe, and the solar system, and the land, and the mountains, and the hills, and the plains; the oceans, and all the creatures that live on it, and in it, and under it, and above it; all plants and human life itself. The same amount of time God devoted to each of these tasks God also devoted to rest; to renewal; to restoration. God commands us to rest too and God commanded us to let the land rest. This land has rested for almost thirty years and now it is ready to bring forth new life.

Help us to discern what that new life should look like. Help us understand what we need to do to honor not only mission and ministry to care for people and give

people what they need but to care for the earth; to honor your creation and to care for all of your creation - the rocks under my feet; the weeds, the grass the flowers; the bees and the butterflies; the creatures that live in the earth and the hawks that feed on them. As well as the human people who want this space for something of their own desire. What do we do with this land? How shall we honor your creation in this land?

This land I mean…

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