30 Oct

CSA's: Church Supported Agriculture

Category: Sound Thinking
By: Eve Ruotsinoja
Published: 10/30/15

Norman Wirzba on assuming our creaturely identity

“I am especially asking Christians that they learn to appreciate eating as being of the highest theological significance, and one of the most practical ways to show that they have committed to extending God's hospitable presence in the world. For too long too many Christians have believed that God's primary concern is the fate of their individual soul. This drastic reduction of the sphere of God's activity needs to be expanded to include the whole scope of creation, because that is where God is daily at work. . . .

“If Christians and their churches take this task seriously, many possibilities come into view. To start, many churches own land and house large kitchens. Could these lands not be converted to grow food and flowers for parishioners and the community around? Could these kitchens not be put to neighborly use, teaching people the arts of preparing and preserving food grown with their own hands? If gardening work is indeed work that introduces us to God's ways of being with the world, then churches should seek out opportunities for parishioners to get their hands in the soil, caring for the creatures that God so clearly loves. They should profile the skills of gardening and cooking work as vital to their own faith development. . . . 

“What would it look like to implement a system like Church Supported Agriculture? In this system, specific congregations, or a collection of congregations, can partner with farmers so that both benefit. More than simply a buying club, such a system will enable these congregations to arrange to bring parishioners to the farm so that they can see with greater clarity and honesty the fragility and freshness of life, and the demands of care. Participating in farmwork, they may even come to appreciate the kinds of faith formation that happen while one is seeding, weeding, treating a sick animal, and gathering in a harvest. Churches could also come to understand the financial pressures farmers face in the purchase of land and in the production of food, and then perhaps provide financial backing and support. What if the ‘mission field’ came also to be understood as an actual agricultural field? I don't think this is a stretch. Farming that honors God and creatures is a powerful countercultural witness to a system bent on degrading the sources of life. . . . 

“The scriptural witness is clear: the scope of God’s reconciling ways has never been confined to the human realm. What God seeks is the reconciliation of all things, ‘whether on earth or in heaven’ (Col. 1:20). Insofar as Christians commit, through their eating, to be a reconciling presence in the world, they may yet learn to be agents of the ‘good news’ that Paul says has been proclaimed ‘to every creature under heaven’ (Col. 1:23). Doing that, they will, perhaps, learn to assume their creaturely identity.”

—Norman Wirzba, From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World (Baker Academic, 2015)

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