Earth Stewardship Sunday – April 28, 2013 – Genesis 1:1 – 2:4

So God Made a Farmer[1]

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.'” So God made a farmer.


[1] http://www.harvesthomeblog.com/2013/04/so-god-made-farmer.html

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Rogation Sunday is an ancient practice of prayer and fasting.  It’s name is rooted in the Latin rogare which means to ask.  Rogation days are celebrated the Sunday closest to April 25th and a few days before the Ascension of our Lord to Heaven in May.

Some say the practice started as an alternative to a Roman pagan sacrifice.  One says it began in 471 in Vienne, France.  It did first begin in Europe.  The practice moved to England and has been gaining popularity in the US.  Traditionally, a rural parish would process around the boundaries of town.  The minister would make stops at various places on the route to ask God’s blessing on the fields, the farming equipment, the workers, the farmers, the town’s people, the roads, and the animals.

In early American tradition, the people would walk from the church out to the fields to pray.  It also involved families walking around the boundaries of their properties to affirm the boundaries of land.  You might have heard it called ‘beating the bounds’.  It served the purpose of teaching the younger generations the land lines before there were land surveyors.

It is a time to recognize our dependence on God for all that sustains us, give thanks to God for creation, and ask God for a bountiful harvest.

Blessing of the Seed
God you have given us these seeds.  They are the fruit of the past. They will be planted into your soil.  They are to bear fruit for the harvest.

Heavenly Creator, who by your wondrous providence made all grass, herbs, and trees.  You have given seed for the sower and bread to the people.  Nourish, protect, and bless the seeds which your people will sow in hope.  Bless those who sow the seed.  By your loving and bountiful giving, may all seed sown burst forth into fullness of its kind, according to your good creation, and especially the seed of your Word; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Blessing of the Soil
God has created and given us this soil.  The soil serves as the medium for the seed to grow – it regulates climate, it provides warmth, nourishment and support so that new life may emerge.

Almighty Creator, we offer to you this soil in token of the fields and forests of our land on which we ask your blessing: We ask that the soil may be wholesome and that we may be faithful stewards of your mercies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing of the Water
God has given us water.  Water gives sustenance and nourishment to the soil and the seed.  We hope that God brings gentle and sufficient rains to our land.

Generous Creator, who brought forth life out of the waters of creation: Bless this offering of water.  Let it come as rain at the right time, in the proper amount so that the seed may flourish and grow. In your mercy send us favorable weather so that the harvest will be bountiful.  Grant that there may be sufficient water to raise up good crops; and may we drink of the Living Water to bring forth the fruit of godly living from the soil of our souls; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing of the Pinwheels
Often people would stake crosses along their Rogation procession as a sign of blessing.  Well, I couldn’t find any cross garden stakes.  So, I give you pin wheels.  Take them and dig them into the soil of your garden or farm staking claim to God’s blessing.

Blessed Creator, whose Son has promised that we need only ask in order to receive: Bless these pinwheels, and grant that in the fields and gardens where we place them they may stand as a sign of our unfailing trust in your bounty and as encouragement to all who see them to put their faith in your providence; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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My dad is the master of repurposing.  He was repurposing things before it was cool.  I remember one weekend he brought home a children’s bike he found in someone’s garbage.  You would have thought he won the lotto.  He spent the rest of the weekend tearing it apart and hammering and welding fashioning it into something.  Then, he revealed his creation.  He had turned a kid’s bike into a 2-wheeled cart for dragging deer out of the woods.

When I visited in October, I saw another of his contraptions.  He took a couple pieces of wood from a fence he tore down and built a stand for his laptop that was perfect to hold his laptop keyboard at the right angle for him to peck at the keys.  I reminded him he could have just bought one.  He said he didn’t need to buy what he could make.

I think the greatest lesson my father taught me was respect for the earth.  He and I went fishing a lot when I was younger.  I was a better fisher than he was; I think that’s why we stopped going.  We dug our own worms.  We threw back anything we weren’t going to eat.

He is a hunter.  He only got me in the woods once, but he taught me a lot from how he lives.  He provided meat for us that didn’t come from Walmart.  He killed himself an animal that had been naturally fattened by the land.  He taught me never kill something you won’t eat.  I also learned not to go into the garage during hunting season because you don’t know what will be hanging from the ceiling – sometimes a deer, sometimes a few squirrel.

He composts, gardens, and recycles.  He was unlike a lot of fathers where I grew up at.  Other fathers weren’t concerned about those types of things.  But, I think the culture is different here.  In a farming community, people understand our connection to the land.

Reducing, reusing, and recycling are not just a cultural campaign to save the earth; in a farming community, it is a way of life.  I recently came across a short article about ways to reduce our clothing consumption.  Of course, thrift shopping is so popular it’s become a huge hit for the rapper Macklemore.  The article I came across suggested buying close that were classic designs rather than trendy wares.  Then, the clothes you purchase last longer.

Electronics are something to be conscious about.  Did you know that most electronic devices contain a mineral called coltan from the Democratic Republic of the Congo?  The average worker there makes $10 / month while we pay hundreds of dollars for devices with it.  We can recycle our electronics or sell them.  I just got a refurbished phone.  Rather than throwing it out, someone returned it, the phone carrier fixed it, and I got it for free.

There are a number of ways we can think about conserving energy, reusing things, and reducing our carbon footprint.  In all the ways we practice preserving the earth and its resources we acknowledge that it is ours to care for.  God’s creation culminated in humans fit to care for God’s work.

The story of God’s creation shared in Scripture tells the story in a poetic way.  This narrative poem was recorded during the time the Israelites were exiled in Babylon.  The people had long suffered God’s judgment for the sins of the nation of Israel.  The Jews were living in a land where the sun, moon, and stars were deities worthy of praise.  This poem recounting God’s creation reminded the Jews not to give into worshiping other gods and remain faithful to the God who ordered those bright lights which their captors foolishly worshipped.[1]

As the story goes, the Spirit of God hovers over the primordial chaos.  Darkness covered the deep void.  God calls the elements into order.  A great light emerges separating the dark of night from the light of day.  Out of the depths of the water, the Earth is born like a child[2].

On those first 3 days, God creates the habitats – water, sky and land.  On the next 3 days, God creates the inhabitants – the birds, the sea creatures, the land animals and people.[3]  And, on the final day, God rested creating the Sabbath.  I once heard it said, before God created the bird, He created the sky.  Before God created the fish, He created the sea.  Before God created humans, He created Heaven.

Someone recently asked me what we are going to do in Heaven, if we’ll have things to do, like a job.  Based on this Scripture, we know God gave humans a

job as soon as they were created to care for the earth.  I suppose that if God immediately gave humans something to do, then God knew we couldn’t just do nothing.  Therefore, I believe God knows we can’t do nothing for eternity and we’ll be given something to do.


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