MAKING PEACE WITH THE LAND

And he who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Rev. 21:5

I read a short book on New Year’s Eve last week that made some bold claims and got me thinking, especially as it’s the season for making resolutions.

Making Peace with the Land, by Fred Bahnson & Norman Wirzba, (part of the Resources for Reconciliation series from Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation) is a brief and urgent book that reminds Christians of God’s promises to redeem the whole earth, not just human beings.

It lays out the story of how we trampled God’s incredible gift of creation through our race for profits, our rush for fast food and easy fuel, and our callous disregard for other living things – even those other creatures whom we depend on for our very life. We see this destruction at its worst in our attempts to feed ourselves, through the advances of modern agriculture.

Bahnson and Wirzba remind us that God created the soil (and formed human beings from it). All life depends on the soil – a living organism that feeds the plants and animals we eat and supports all of creation, including the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The beautiful and interconnected soil food web has been disrupted. While modern industrial agriculture is the most efficient and productive the world has ever seen, it’s also incredibly destructive and unsustainable. The food we grow is hurting our bodies, too: 1 in 3 kids (and 1 in 2 minority kids) born after the year 2000 will develop early onset diabetes. Food borne illness fromindustrial farms continues to spread. And the harm from industrial farms doesn’t harm eaters; farm workers suffer in the US in staggering ways – paid impossibly low wages and exposed to toxic chemicals, sexual harassment, and dangerous working conditions

With each new revelation of the destruction we’re doing to the earth and to each other, God’s plan to redeem all of creation seems very far off. Making Peace with the Land reminds us that not only is God’s kingdom coming on earth, it’s already here – because of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. God is the great reconciler and is making all things new, not only our hearts, but our physical bodies and the whole earth. And we are called to actively participate in this redemption, by making peace with the land that we have abused.

The BFJN’s Lazarus at the Gate curriculum invites participants to live more joyfully, consume less, consume with justice, and give generously to others. This New Year, I’m resolving to renew Lazarus commitments by celebrating the table God spreads for us. Food is essential to life, and meals around a table are a gathering place for God’s people: to recall the great meal of Christ’s body and blood that he shared with us, and to welcome those who are hungry, sick, or suffering.

So this year I’ll give thanks for the soil that feeds me and seek to support farmers who care for our soil, air, and water, and treat their workers fairly. I’ll support organizations working to make our food system better and healthier for everyone. Let’s take part in making all things new.

Learn more:

“Why Take Food Seriously?” by Mark Bittman

9 Ways to Fix our Food System

“Big Food vs. Big Insurance” by Michael Pollan

Small Planet Institute

Farmworker Facts & Figures Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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