Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. During September, Leanne Pearce Reed is curating a month of blog posts exploring stewardship of all creation. Join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!
By Ashley Goff
(Editor’s Note: This writing first appeared on Ashley’s blog God of the Sparrow, where she writes on adventures with liturgy, yoga, urban farming, and being inspired by the Planet and its radical, creative earthly creatures. Check it out!)
Four years ago, Church of the Pilgrims started an urban garden with one raised bed. Now we have four raised beds, a root veggie garden, herb garden, large perennial bed, four beehives, and several composts. The produce grown from the garden goes to creating meals for Open Table, our Sunday lunch for hungry neighbors.
We’ve done a lot of work in these past four years in incorporating the garden into life at Pilgrims, particularly our liturgical life.
Several weeks ago, we had our spring planting day after worship. Before we plunked everything into the soil, we blessed and honored the plants in worship. How to bless the plants came out of a brainstorming session with Jess Fisher and Dana Olson, our two interns.
I preached on the Emmaus Road, focusing on “recognition” and how breaking of bread (the non-human) and community (human) push us to recognize the Holy One. I’d give this sermon a B, mostly because I was focused on communion that followed.
As part of the invitation to the table, I had people share their hopes and dreams for what they want to recognize in this Eastertide season. I stood next to the font which was in front of our table—everything surrounded by the plants we would soon plant.
We had a lime tree, olive tree, creeping thyme, tomatoes, eggplants, sunflowers, basil, cabbage, peppers, and native plants. These plants were grown by non-Monsanto seeds by Pilgrims or purchased at a farmers market from a local farm.
During Pilgrims baptismal liturgy, we share hopes and dreams for the person being baptized. Someone shares a hope and dream, then they take the pitcher and pour water into the font.
We did something similar with our “recognitions.”
I had planned to have people call out what they hope to recognize/pay attention to within themselves, Pilgrims and the planet in their pews with me pouring into the font. Jeanne Mayer, a long time member at Pilgrims, was the first one to share. She came up, grabbed the pitcher out of my hand, shared in front of everyone. This is the pattern in our baptism. Not sure what I was thinking…me holding the pitcher for everyone. Thankfully Jeanne pushed me out of the way.
One-by-one 10+ people shared. The recognitions focused on growth, perspective, expansiveness, and community.
People were then invited to come forward to our open table, singing “Come to the table of Grace”, and take a little communion cup, dip it into the font with the water full of hopes, and water the plants.
As we gathered around the table, we prayed, shared our hopes and dreams for the plants, and continued with an improv Prayer of Great Thanksgiving.
After worship, 15 of us went to our garden and planted our hopes and dreams.
Ashley Goff is a pastor at Church of the Pilgrims in Washington, DC and regular blogger at God of the Sparrow.