Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Great Fiesta yet to come

 

Today we hosted a lunch at church for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies.

Most of the fresh tomatoes served at US restaurants and sold in supermarkets October through April come from Florida, with a large percentage of those coming from the area around the town of Immokalee.  For the past 20+ years Immokalee pickers have banded together to overcome low and stagnant wages, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions, and documented cases of involuntary unpaid labor – otherwise known as slavery.  The tomato fields of Florida have been called ground zero for modern day slavery.

But this is changing, slowly.  To date, 15 corporations have signed on to the CIW initiated Fair Food Program.  The list includes companies one might expect such as Chipotle and Whole Foods, but also Taco Bell (the first to sign on in 2005 after a national boycott), McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and the mighty Wal-Mart. Through the Fair Food Program, workers are paid an additional penny per pound that they pick, and a human rights based Code of Conduct is implemented on the tomato farms.   The Washington Post has referred to the Fair Food Program as “One of the great human rights success stories of our day.”

I could go on, but basically, these workers are heroes.    Many faith groups support the CIW and today CMC got in on a small piece of the action.

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With the current Wendy’s campaign, Columbus is now ground zero for CIW’s ongoing efforts.  Earlier this morning folks from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Nashville, Ann Arbor, Florida. and Columbus gathered outside Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders.  Three CIW representatives were able to attend and speak to the stockholders, describing the Fair Food Program and calling on Wendy’s  – the last holdout of major fast food companies – to join.

Afterwards folks caravanned down to CMC and shared a lunch here.  Despite the disappointing – although expected – response from Wendy’s, it was a lively atmosphere.  We heard several reports of the ongoing work of CIW, ate excellent Mexican food, and enjoyed one another’s company around the table, making new connections.  About 10 CMC folks joined in for the meal, and several others attended the morning action.

The parables of Jesus are populated with workers and farmers going about their daily labor in the fields.  The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a modern day parable in which “The kingdom of God is like…”  Today’s feast was a small taste of the Great Banquet, the Great Fiesta, yet to come.

 

 

 

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Welcome to Ordinary Time

What time is it?

It’s Ordinary Time.

In the liturgical calendar, the seven weeks of the Easter season culminate in Pentecost Sunday.  Since Advent we have been following the trajectory of Jesus’ life, from expectant pregnancy and birth, to baptism and ministry, to crucifixion and resurrection. At Pentecost the Spirit is unleashed and comes in wind and flame and ecstatic language.  Jesus is no longer bodily present with his disciples, and so the Holy Spirit is on the lookout for bodies – bodies that will allow themselves to be animated by the same consciousness and energy that filled and moved Jesus of Nazareth.  No single body can do this alone, but together a new community forms, the body of Christ, the church.

We celebrated Pentecost last Sunday – so what’s next?  According to the liturgical cycle, we are entering Ordinary Time, and will remain here until Advent comes around again.  Ordinary Time is a recognition that the Holy is not confined to a single tradition or experience, but that the Spirit is in the process of re-making all things holy.  One need look no further than the ordinary gifts of each day – waking up with lungs full of breath, eating a meal, walking out into sun and shade, sharing a conversation with a friend or stranger.  Similarly, Buddhists have developed the lovely practice of mindfulness to attune their minds to the gift of the present moment.

A blessing to you in the ordinariness of your day and in the holy that awaits your attention.

Here is a simple and child friendly calendar of the church year.

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Becoming members of one another

 

“…we pledge ourselves to the other members of this church to share openly our problems and concerns, to care for the spiritual and physical needs of each other, and to make this fellowship a vital part of our life.”  — Excerpt from the Columbus Mennonite Church Membership Commitment

This coming Sunday we’ll be welcoming new members into the congregation.  They’ll be leading parts of the service, sharing a window into their faith journeys, and serving Communion.  When Mark and I met with this group a few weeks ago, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness with which each of them is entering this commitment, and grateful for the rest of you who have made this congregation a place that welcomes new folks with open arms.

Membership Sunday is also a time of renewing the commitments we make to one another.  Our baptismal identity calls on us to reject the evils of this world (which tend to end in “ism” and “phobia) and live into the way of the kin-dom of God.

Choosing to be a part of a congregation is something of a confession that we are unable to do any of this alone.  The life Jesus calls us to puts us in relationship with people we may otherwise have no reason or opportunity to associate with.  Even so, we regularly fail to be our best selves, we can easily fall into the kinds of patterns and attitudes our culture has prescribed for us.  We are human beings, and it’s not always pretty.

But we also live under the banner of “the new creation” that the Apostle Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 5.  Despite ourselves, we are caught up together in the work that the Spirit is doing among us, and we are in the process of becoming.  We are becoming the new creation, a new humanity.  We are becoming the body of Christ, members of one another.

That’s the challenge and the joy of life in a congregation, and every once in a while it’s good to remind ourselves of what it is, who it is, we’re becoming.