Today we had one of the most unique and beautiful church experiences in our lives. Instead of having a service in a building, we gave service in a field.
Church leadership took a cue from the summer youth program, where they go glean from a local farm to collect fresh produce for food kitchens that serve the needy, canceled the service and invited the whole congregation to go get our hands dirty.
Gleaning is the gathering of leftover crops after the primary reapers have done the harvesting. God commanded the Israelites to intentionally leave the crops on the edges of the field and not be incredibly thorough the first time through, so to provide food for the poor and needy (Lev 19:9-10, 23:22). Most people familiar with the Bible are familiar with Ruth's gleaning in Boaz's fields (apparently also a great way to meet a kind, wealthy spouse!).
So, today we met in a field in Freeland, Md., to glean as a congregation. Except we learned we weren't exactly going to glean. First Fruits Farm gives 100% of their produce away and relies on volunteers to harvest the crops. If you live in the area and are looking for an outreach project for your group or organization, I highly recommend you check them out. If you want to just go out as an individual or small group, they will help connect you with a larger group.
We followed a combine in a potato field, and in about 2 hours gathered more than 200 sacks, or 12-15,000 pounds. Trucks from Baltimore and DC shelters and missions immediately took the loads to serve their people. In the next few days, hundreds of people we will never meet (in this life) will enjoy fresh, hot meals with these spuds.
Looking around at our group of about 100 dirty kids and adults, you would've never guessed we were having church. It was an absolute joy for us, which is usually the case when we put obedience before comfort. Can I hear an Amen (and pass the potato bucket!)?