Fire Next Time: Preparing "the Rites of Passage" of Faithland

Fire Next Time: Preparing the Rites of Passage of Faithland

Gen: 9:11 2Pet.3:6,7 

“Fire next time” resonates in my mind when I think of the current state of affairs politically, spiritually, and agriculturally.  The adage of “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” is often stated during burial services.  If you think about it from the literal sense, that’s what will becomes of all of us.  We return to the land.  The land is the source of the plentiful bounty if utilized correctly, as we all witnessed as a group. 

Faithland Conf. 3.2018.jpg

However, it can also bring “fire next time.”  The average gram of soil contains over 4,000 microbes.[1]  There is life in he soil but if stripped away its nothing but dirt.  Each year 24 billion tons of soil is lost worldwide due to erosion replaced by flammable substitutes.[2] Farmers use amendments and potting soil to replace the life, lost in the soil.  

 Photos of Man in Dust storm during the Dust Bowl Era - courtesy internet source

Photos of Man in Dust storm during the Dust Bowl Era - courtesy internet source

-The ground is cracked because there is no rain in the land; the farmers are dismayed and cover their heads. Jeremiah 14:4

The Faithland gathering represented the new reality of parishioners aging, rural churches closing and the land creating a resurgence of people’s spirituality and belief in God.  The critical trajectory is the church’s ability to let go of the land that was never their’s, to begin with in regards to original ownership.   Who owns the land? Native communities?  The collective body of Christ?  In our discussion, friction between parish leadership and the lone farmer was prevalent across many religious sectors.  The importance of the land of origin and tribe was stated but yet missing.  In retrospect, when all the “t’s’ are crossed and the “I’s” are dotted in a strategically well-written lease agreement.  What will it all mean when there is “fire next time”?

For centuries land has been the focal point of war and conflict, i.e., the Gaza Strip.  Native tribe against native tribe and country against country.  If you are a believer in God you can attest to the signs of “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places” we are living in the last days.[3]   What we do with the land in the last days was the overall theme.  How we treat others, re-gifting land back to rightful owners are all things that we grabbled with as a group.  In a sense, we all gathered to assist the church with “getting its affairs in order” similar to preparing an estate plan or a body for burial.  We collective are the body of Christ.  We are working to prepare the land for its last rites of passage before “fire next time.”  I am not a leader of the cloth.  I am a lawyer dedicated to protecting aging farmers.  Relating this experience to the church’s “last days” and leaving a legacy are prevalent topics that need to be discussed not only by people but institutions.   

We all attend funerals to pay our last respects.  The Lord states “the day of death is better than the day of birth.”[4]  Allowing old ways to die gives birth to new life.  Farmers give birth to life from soil.  Vacant church lots, land, and buildings held tight by hierarchy and doctrine is squeezing the life out the church.  There is an urgent need to help the church transition into new life.  Personally, this is what the convening symbolized to me.  

[1] Nature https://www.nature.com/news/2008/081008/full/455724a.html

[2] Soil Lost https://www.globalagriculture.org/report-topics/soil-fertility-and-erosion.html Soil Amendments Combustible http://kdvr.com/2016/09/04/firefighters-suspect-potting-soil-caused-aurora-deck-fire/

[3] Matthew 24:7 NIV

[4] Ecclesiastes 7:1 NIV