The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
that the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
descending in the dark?

Wendell Berry

I never aspired to be a farmer. And, I feel like there will always be farming in my bones. There were many things I loved about farming: there was nothing like that late summer, last load of hay coming off the field in the long, slanting light of evening, the sweat drying crinkly on the skin, the force of gravity melting tired muscles into the top of the well-stacked hay wagon. Even the miserable bits of it, have, like most hard efforts, a richness that cannot, in the end, be denied. I think our ministry is a bit like farming in this way — that the generous sentences of love we would utter lend richness to our community, in the days of plenty and happiness, as in the days of want and trial, and are a blessing. No matter what, no matter who, neighbors are welcomed, food for the hungry is offered, and a place for the weary body and soul is kept.

It is a beautiful honor to be a “farmer” in the midst of all of you “farmers.”. Together we tend the soil. For we cannot grow corn, year after year, from the same field and expect richness. We must return back to the soil our precious, hard-earned gifts. Berry alludes to it in the third line above — the one born to farming, enters into death yearly. We tend not to talk about death or money because both make us squirm. Life seems short and nature stingy, and so we grasp at that which seems to want to elude us.

Wendell Berry and Jesus suggest a miraculous alternate vision: it is only in letting go of that grip that we can really live, that richness can spring forth and the ground bear its exuberant fruit. This gospel call is both a reminder of that which we have always already known as the well-spring of life deep within and a sign of resistance against the commercial pressures we experience almost daily to find our satisfaction in stuff we can buy. This is not to say that we are called to be monkish. Nor is it a call to sacrificial giving. It is simply to say that life is immeasurably more beautiful and wonderful when we let love “cast out all fear” and allow kindness and compassion to be our guide.

Sunday afternoon, I attended the Waterbury Community band concert held in our sanctuary. Several times during the concert, the director, who did not know I was present, paused between numbers to remind the audience how fortunate we are to have this church in this community. He expressed how grateful he was for all it does to support Waterbury, for all it does to make it a more beautiful place in which to live. He’s absolutely right. You do. This community, both within these walls, and along the beautiful Winooski River, is truly made so much richer by your yearly flooding it with your generosity.

Thank you for your past support. Thank you for your continued support and your generous pledge for 2020.

Peace,

Rev. Peter Plagge

PS. The finance committee would like to have all of the pledge cards returned to the church by Sunday, November 10. That timing allows them to develop a budget for review by your church council in December. We will celebrate our commitments on November 17 during worship. You may mail your pledge card to the church office or put it in the offering plate during worship.

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