Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday and Service

Many years ago I was part of the Episcopal Urban Intern Program in Los Angeles. It was one the hardest things I've done in my life, partially because the community collapsed (or, probably never really formed to begin with) and I ended up moving out and continuing the internship part on my own without community. It was not pleasant, but I'm certainly not trying to blame anyone for any of it. Anyway, one of the people that was in my EUIP year was Sarah Nolan, who is now a chaplain at California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI). She has recently begun a new ministry called The Abundant Table. It looks me to me kind of like a rural equivalent of the EUIP experience: a year-long intensive internship for young Christians who want to live in community. They will be living an working on a farm learning about sustainable agriculture. Very cool. Here's their vision:
The Abundant Table Farm Project is a young adult Christian community seeking a contemporary rhythm of life with a land based ministry in Ventura County. The goal of this internship is to connect with young adults who are attuned to the destructive disconnect between land and table in our culture.
The Abundant Table Farm Project seeks to provide an alternative model of living for young adults interested in vocational discernment around spirituality, community, and stewardship of Creation. ATFP hopes to create a space where young adults can negotiate what it means to live out the gospel message within the local community and the broader church, in our current context of human beings alienated from each other and the earth.

This project will equip young adults with practical and spiritual skills for creating sustainable community and agriculture. ATFP participants will leave our program with first-hand knowledge of issues related to the above mentioned disconnect--including environmental sustainability; organic, small scale agriculture vs. industrial agribusiness; community health and access to unprocessed foods, especially as it relates to disadvantaged communities; immigration and labor issues--and a passion to work for justice around these issues.

Hearing this project connects a lot of threads for me: my year of service in L.A., my failure at living in community with my peers there, my interest in food reform, and the idea of creating alternative expressions of Christianity, to name a few. I really have spent a lot of my life in service to others, and sometimes I need to remind myself about that when I get too self-incriminatory.

I spend some energy fretting about whether I do enough for the people in my congregation and community. Hard not to feel guilty for coming in to work at 11 AM this morning, even though I know I have a long night at the church ahead of me. That kind of thing. Maundy Thursday is the perfect time to reflect on how I go about serving my people. And when I do I think about all the things I should be doing. Like a supper series. I need to have more people in my home just to get to know each other.


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