Most Christians already know that God comes to us in strange and wonderful ways, mundane ways, ordinary ways. Things that happen in a regular day may be nothing special on the calendar with nothing memorable going on, but for a moment in the midst of this sameness, we get a glimpse of the presence of God.
Right now, here in the middle of the summer, it could be something like homegrown tomatoes, ripened in the warm sun, brimming with that special smooth taste and exuding that marvelous fragrance that sets our digestive juices n edge.
I believe God nudges us to see holy dimensions in the most mundane of daily activities, like eating a homegrown tomato sandwich, for example.
The pleasure of eating that sandwich is an experience of wonder and concentration and the kind of experience our spiritual friends who meditate might call, “living in the present moment.”
Church gardening has come into its own over the past decade, and its advocates have been quite successful in getting congregations to pull out their hoes, put on their straw hats and dig into the dirt.
Early on, United Methodists in North Carolina took to the church garden idea in a big way.
Anathoth Community Farm and Garden near Hillsborough in Orange County began in 2004 as a ministry of Cedar Grove United Methodist Church. The congregation felt it was a way for neighbors to come together after a shopkeeper in their community was murdered.
Over the years, this garden has become a national model for community gardening and is now a faith-based nonprofit endeavor with a full-time staff and a board of directors.
For the past couple of years, the garden has supplied weekly baskets of fresh vegetables and fruits to regular customers in Cedar Grove, Hillsborough, Chapel Hill and Durham.
Baskets this week included lots of slicing tomatoes, blueberries, eggplant, basil, watermelon, cucumbers and okra.
Hear the words of Anathoth's director Chas Eden and you may discover a new dimension in gardening.:
“Gardening is spiritual work, and this is most evident to me in the wind,” writes the director. “On a hot day, when we’ve been working out on the farm for an entire morning and I’m about ready to give in to the sweat and exhaustion, I am often surprised and comforted by an extremely welcome and refreshing breeze.
“The wind flows through the trees, across the field, and over my skin, calming and cooling my body and soul. For a second, I stop to take it all in, inhaling the air that has visited me from elsewhere and will carry on far from me again.
“In these moment, I know there is more at work in the garden than earth and water, something holy is at work. Something divine connects the whole of the natural world.”
Contact Anathoth Garden at 919-732-8405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
New Chapel minister
Joshua Lazard has been named the first C. Eric Lincoln Minister at Duke Chapel.
The new position honors Lincoln, a scholar, social activist, novelist, hymn-writer and pastor who taught religion and culture at Duke from 1976 to 1993. Lincoln was a Methodist minister and noted scholar of the sociology of religion and race in the United States.
As the Lincoln minister, Lazard will contribute to the Duke Chapel PathWays student ministry, with an emphasis on racial reconciliation, artistic expression and outreach to students who have been historically under-represented in the chapel's ministries.
“I’m ready to have the hard discussions and facilitate the meaningful work of reconciliation,” Lazard said. “I'm looking forward to the challenges, because in those moments we find God most present, and such an encounter illuminates the best that humanity has to offer.”
Lazard comes to Duke from Dillard University, a historically black university in New Orleans, where he directed student ministry programs in the office of the university chaplain.
Lazard attended Johnson C. Smith Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and earned a master of divinity degree and a master of arts in church music. He is currently seeking ordination in the United Church of Christ.
The decision last week by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer paves the way for North Carolina's Amendment One to be struck down.
This means that the focus now returns to General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper, a federal legal challenge to the state marriage laws on the basis of both 1st and 14th Amendment claims.
Plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction in the case and awaiting a response from the court.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include same sex couples and four national religious denominations, the United Church of Christ, the Alliance of Baptists, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and the Central Conference of American Rabbis in addition to Episcopalian, Lutheran, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish and Baptist clergy from across the state.
Contact Flo Johnston at email@example.com or 910-361-4135.