Recently, I have been reading about the controversies surrounding factory farms and companies that generate genetically modified seeds capable of mass producing and surviving under any conditions. In this debate that originates from the intricacies of industrial farming, there are good points being made from many perspectives, such as the legal, business, scientific and farming.
I do not claim to be a scientist, farmer, politician or lawyer. What I do claim to be is a proclaimer of the Gospel, of the Good News. Have we looked at this issue through a spiritual lens? Today as I spread out seeds on a piece of wax paper to save for next year’s planting season (as my mom taught me to do), I caught a glimpse of God’s grace. I was reminded of God’s desire for us to live full and abundant lives. I was reminded how different the Kingdom of God often looks from our own way of living and being in the world. The squash full of seeds from a local farm reminded me that in the Kingdom of God, one tiny seed planted not only has the possibility to yield abundant fruit, but it also returns the seeds ten-fold. One seed grows into a plant that can offer hundreds of seeds for next year’s harvest. This is the way it works in the Kingdom of God. Yet we sometimes stray to a point where some think it is normal to call a seed “intellectual property” and stake claims over such seeds. In this complicated debate, we blatantly forget to acknowledge the One who created all that is. We forget about the Divine creativity that fashioned the first plant, the first seed, the first garden. We live in a world where often farmers can buy a seed to plant once, but the seeds yielded in the harvest must be treated within the parameters of a contract. This is not meant to demonize a company or certain methods of farming but rather to call attention to our way of thinking. In the Kingdom of God abundance reigns. In the kingdoms we create, selfishness, greed, and destruction of the earth often reign instead.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I hope we each take the time to celebrate the abundant possibilities present in the world around us. Take a moment to marvel at the examples of grace God has given us in creation, as in something as simple as a butternut squash full of seeds. Let us celebrate the creativity of a God who lovingly sculpted us out of the dust, and created this world, which yields such abundant harvest. And while we break bread and eat our Thanksgiving meal with those we love, I hope we can remember the literal and figurative seeds that we plant. In our own lives, let us strive to embody and create abundance that resembles the Kingdom of God. May we plant seeds that yield abundant harvests of justice, squash, peace and turnips; a world where we experience the freedom and bounty of the Kingdom of God, where our neighbors do not go hungry. Thanks be to God.
–Shannon Axtell Martin, PHW Regional Consultant
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches. PHW aims to connect health as a faith issue. Please visit our website to sign your personal pledge to be healthier, and to find out about grant opportunities for churches in NC.