Fellow Passengers: This week’s Pastoral Passage* (Galatians 6:7-10) transports us to a Grange Hall meeting where small collectives of seed-savers and slow food advocates are plotting strategy for their looming battle with round-up-ready seed-patenters and other big agribusiness interests. These multinational giants, with their massive wealth and political clout, are doing all they can to corner every market and criminalize seed-saving to drive the small-timers out of business. This kind of thing has been happening for decades – starting with good old Nixon boy Earl Butz telling farmers to get big or get out – and it continues to happen today, as Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill lobby for legislation and work to convince the courts that their patented seeds and their fertilizers and pesticides and practices of industrial farming are the only things we can trust to have a secure food system. Irony of ironies, it is the industrial practices which threaten our food system in ways the world can hardly imagine.
So what does all this have to do with Paul and the Galatian church? The contemporary battle over seeds is an apt metaphor for what Paul was describing. Today we have the choice to support a wildly destructive agribusiness system that is turning lush green ecosystems into deserts in order to please the fleshly desires of cheap food and big profit margins, or to support small and sustainable food producers who utilize the wisdom of the ages to preserve and conserve the resources that literally bring good things to life. Paul told the Galatians they had a similar spiritual choice: they could either sow seeds of the Spirit and reap eternal life – read sustainable life –or they could sow the seeds of short term profit and pleasure and reap inevitable destruction. We have no idea the level of damage that will follow society’s attempts to play God through modified genetics and other engineered food production, but Paul’s cautionary words apply today: God is not mocked.
So we listen to Paul and look for ways to sow seeds of life. We abandon the values of short term profit and pleasure. We invest in lifestyles that are sustainable and conserve resources. We work to deconstruct the systems that threaten life. We avoid complicity in destruction and discover ways to collaborate for life. We risk the wrath of the big business interests by saving heirloom seeds. For we have quite a bequest to pass on; we are indeed heirs of a great treasure – life. As the song says, we are joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod. Jesus preached that the meek will inherit that sod, that precious two-inch deep space of resurrection life that feeds us. It seems to me that as Jesus’ joint heirs, we should do all we can to preserve that inheritance, that sacred sod, that endangered seedbed of life that feeds us every day. With Jesus as joint heir, traveling with us, we don’t give up, despite the size of the threatening enemy. With Jesus as joint heir, working alongside us, we don’t get tired of doing good, despite the growing destruction around us. And Paul tells us that we’re to be good to everybody and work for the good of all people. Because as Slowhand himself once sang, You gotta reap just what you sow, that old saying is true; you mistreat someone, someone’s gonna mistreat you, you’ve been laughing pretty baby, someday you’re gonna be crying, further on up the road, you’ll find out I wasn’t lying. See you at the Grange. . .
How about you? Where does this Pastoral Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.