Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Started in the fields yesterday, early afternoon, church on the farm. Ended up in the barn at 9:45. PM. Longest church I’ve ever witnessed. Don’t know if anyone here knew they were at church or in church, but I still say it was church just the same.
That farmer up the road rambled down with his haying equipment late morning and by the time I rolled into our drive at 1 PM, he had already turned the hay in our field so the sun and west wind would get it good and dry. Then, his red machine hooked up to that tractor swept up loose grass like a vacuum cleaner does a rug and then, every so often, it stopped. And well, it dropped a load, so to speak. The back of that machine lifted its “tail” and out came a round bale of hay. Plop! Down on the ground it tumbled. Then the red machine moved on, sweeping and dropping till there were 28 round bales of hay out there in the field, a modern Monet.
The other farmer west of us who doesn’t do our hay anymore because of family problems like a kid incarcerated came over anyway. Because we needed him. Because our hay crop is huge this year. Because the rain was coming. And that old adage, “Gotta make hay while the sun shines”, is really true. Can’t get that hay wet or it’s no good for barns and no use for horses. Might mold. Might spontaneously combust as it composts itself, making ashes of a barn, killing animals stuck inside. Seen it happen around here. Know people who’ve lost cows, horses, pets.
As I watched the men work the field hard, not wasting a minute, I yelled at that Yorkie to stop doing his thing on the horse food. And I thought how we’re all in this together, each of us needing to pitch in and do our part (or not, in the case of the Yorkie).
This life? This work? This caring, helping thing?
We all get to pitch in and help one another.
But I thought that those who say “Yes”, those who roll up their sleeves, those who do the hard and messy and brow-sweating work when the work needs done? Well, I thought, this is true church.
This is people caring enough to do the necessary when necessary. When it would be easier to look the other way, hope and pray, tell the one in need, “Have a good day!”, and go on our own merry way.
Yes, we all get to choose whether or not we want to get involved.
True church gets involved even when it’s messy, hard and sweaty. Even when HE or SHE is messy and hard. Even when HE or SHE makes our innards all sweaty not knowing exactly what to do . . .
True church DOES something.
And they stay involved until the work is done, each doing their part.
While I got a bit sweaty being an adopted grandma last night, babysitting two beautiful girls, I watched another crew of men, three of mine and two friends. They hauled, hurled and hoisted 500 rectangular bales of heavy hay, storing it up in two barns. Didn’t stop. 4:30 – 9:45. Ordered a pizza for delivery. Drank lots of water. I swear they were sweating it out faster than they were drinking it down.
True church. Me caring for two young ones while their parents enjoyed a date night. Not my kids. Not my grandkids. Blessing another is a blessing. Don’t know who’s blessed more although I want to say me, even after changing that dirty diaper and the clothes that caught the overflow. True church is messy and smelly and beautiful and full of fresh life.
So after the parents picked up their adorable daughters, I went to the barn with two beers and three sodas–a small thank-you for hard work and long hours. Outside in the dark, bugs dancing in the spotlight of the barn, the men drank down sweet and laughed. I looked at the barn’s innards and gave thanks for a hay crop reaching the ceiling, not of one barn but two.
Food enough for four equines who carry the elderly, the injured, the disabled, the impoverished, the traumatized, the marginalized, the invisible, the forgotten. Food enough for four equines, themselves all neglected, abused and rescued. Food enough to feed all through the season when nothing grows, through the season of cold and dark and patient waiting until a season of spring and rain and new shoots breaking through hard, thawing ground.
Those who let their light shine by pitching in and doing the needed, the necessary.
Those who know the weather systems of souls and the seasons of spirit.
Hauling, hurling, hoisting, sweating, laughing, celebrating, nurturing, adopting.
May we love one another well, both inside and outside of buildings. All of us serving our Jesus by serving one another.
Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18