by Paul Clever

The mission of the Common Friars uses explicitly religious language like, “men and women vowed to seek and serve the incarnate Christ” and “signs to and of the Church.” Yet, the Good Earth Farm, our central ministry, uses language that is obliquely layered. We have consciously avoided religious language in the mission statement of the farm. We go out of our way to welcome anyone to our farm, people of all faiths or no faith at all.  While we do make it clear that the people living in the farm house are forming a new religious order in the Episcopal Church, few understand what that means. When we further explain our commitment to a life of prayer and gospel poverty, we often do so as a form of apology, making it clear that our faith does not come with expectations to our guests. That said: there are deeply Christian missions in our goal to “Share the Joy of Food with all who Hunger.”

 Joy and Food

 Jesus’s ministry often takes place at dinner tables. He gives us the Eucharist, to re-member him in bread and wine. He instructs us to ask God for our daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer. Christ is our food, our joy. At the farm, eating at the table, laboring together in the garden, watching the rain water our crops, serving the Eucharist to our brothers and sisters are often our greatest times of collective joy. These simple moments allow us to see Christ in others, trust that we are loved, and know that we are given all we need. Sharing joy is sharing the good news.

 

 Hunger and Food

 The farm seeks to serve those who go to bed without food as well as those lacking spiritual connection to God, to Creation or to humanity. We are a safe landing on a  tightrope taut of hunger and ungrounded hope.  God’s love is in question when man’s belief in scarcity leaves life “nasty, brutish, and short.” It is Hobbes’ world, not Christ’s, which is too often the reality for the wealthy and poor alike. Whoever drinks of this cup and eats of this bread, those not offered by Christ but the world, is left unfilled, anxious, depressed, destitute, or violent. The farm at its best is a sign that God exists, that God is good, that Christ is the “bread of life.”  We are a small sign, not by talking about hope or singing glorious hymns of alleluia, but by laboring over food which we freely offer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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