Moment for Mission
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. — Psalm 4:5
Today, The United Methodist Church is present in both rural and urban communities. One Sunday each year, The United Methodist Church observes Rural Life Sunday. Each annual conference chooses the date they will observe this day, which is set aside to celebrate the church's rural heritage, recognize the ongoing crisis in rural areas, and affirm the interdependence between rural and urban communities.
On Rural Life Sunday, we take a moment to lift up those many hands that were involved with putting food on our tables — from the planting and pouring of water to the picking and preparing. The interdependence of our urban and rural communities mirrors the interdependence of the farmer and the land and the production and consumption of food.
Thomas Merton called this interdependence "compassion." He called compassion "a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another."
While we physically see this relation to soil, seed and sun, we are not always able to recognize the need for our compassion in the ongoing crisis in rural life. The challenges facing these communities — fewer family farms, more children living in poverty and a lack of jobs — are worthy of our compassion as the body of Christ.
Giver of Life, We thank you for those who are a part of putting food on our tables. We lift up those in rural areas who are struggling with the loss of family farms, low wages and lack of employment. We pray for your mercy and justice. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Generous God, you are the king of the universe! Everything belongs to you, yet you graciously provide for our smallest needs. You sent your Son Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to redeem us. We are grateful for your blessings, for we have enough to share. Help us to be faithful in our use of the resources you give us. We return a portion of your bounty for the work of the church. May people in our community rejoice in your goodness, through Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Luke 16:1-13)
"In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree… ."
These are words of a hymn that is in our United Methodist Hymnal, the Hymn of Promise. In this song about planting seeds and growth, words that come to mind are "life" and "hope." Yet, in our rural areas, the poverty rate is nearly 15 percent, the number of family farms is declining and a lack of jobs is forcing folks into urban areas.
The United Methodist Church celebrates Rural Life Sunday in order to recognize those who do the hard and holy work of planting, waiting and harvesting. Farming is not done in isolation. Many hands are involved in getting healthy food to our tables.
We lift up Rural Life Sunday to remember to be thankful for the food we consume and for those who participated in getting it in spite of the elements, trusting that all will be revealed in its season.