A Moment for Mission
"From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens." – Psalm 113:3-4, NRSV
One of the catchier songs from the musical Godspell actually had its beginnings two centuries before the popular show opened on Broadway in 1971. Matthias Claudius, a German poet and journalist of the 18th century, wrote the lyrics for "All Good Gifts" ("We Plow the Fields and Scatter"), which thanks God for all creation, especially seedtime and harvest.
His words seem a fitting tribute to Rural Life Sunday, celebrated in The United Methodist Church on a date of each annual conference's choosing.
According to the Book of Discipline (Paragraph 265.3), this special Sunday calls us "to celebrate the rural heritage of The United Methodist Church, to recognize the ongoing crisis occurring in rural areas of the nation and the world today, and to affirm the interdependence of rural and urban communities. … If the annual conference so directs, an offering may be received to strengthen the nurture, outreach, and witness of congregations in town and rural areas."
Whether we live in the biggest metropolis or the tiniest hamlet, most of us depend on farmers to provide the food we need to nourish our bodies. Thanks to their commitment and labor, we enjoy God's gifts that bring us life, health and food.
Indeed, from the rising of the sun to its setting, we praise God's name. As we observe Rural Life Sunday, may we also seek ways to affirm the rural congregations of all sizes whose outreach remains vital and vibrant.
Loving God, you give us sunrise and sunset, seedtime and harvest. Thank you for the commitment and courage of those who devote their lives to farming. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost — Mighty Creator, you are the architect of the cosmos and of the tiniest flower. All of creation is a tapestry proclaiming your love and mercy, and yet your heart feels every loss we experience; you cry at every word that wounds one of your precious children. We bring gifts to you this morning, not as restitution for past mercies or prepayment for future favor, but as a celebration of your love and care for us and all creation. Dedicate these gifts that they might bring love and compassion, that they might help heal your creation, and help us more resemble the people you desire us to be. In Christ, we pray. Amen. (Jeremiah 8:18-9:1)
As a child, I loved visiting my great-aunt and great-uncle who lived on a farm. I cherished the chance to ride Queenie, a broken-down, old horse with the patience of Job. I remember gathering for delicious meals and wondered why our city-bought food didn't quite measure up.
It wasn't until I met college friends who grew up in rural communities that I realized that enjoying some of the best food I've ever tasted depended on a lot of hard work and just the right conditions to produce a bountiful harvest.
On a date set by each annual conference, Rural Life Sunday encourages congregations to celebrate the rural heritage of The United Methodist Church, to affirm worldwide the people and communities who work with and on the land by raising food and fiber, and to recognize the ongoing crisis occurring in the rural areas of the world today. Local churches may choose to honor people who have been leaders in the rural church and community.
— Adapted from Discipleship Ministries website