Pastoral Letter on Gratitude, Struggle, Help and the 9/2/18 Service

Dear neighbors,

I was standing in front of the beautiful display of produce at the
Strafford Village Farm tomato tasting on Friday evening, holding a head of
bibb lettuce, a container of red potatoes and a perfect melon.  I was
feeling joy at the huge crowd and the loving neighborliness all over the
field, including far up the slope toward the woods where children were
playing as I imagine Lewis and other Strafford children have played for
generations.  (Later Hazel told me she used to pick berries up there and
walk in those woods.)

Many people I spoke to expressed their gratitude for that farm, for the
family that is farming it, for Rockbottom and Brocklebank and all our local
farmers and growers and producers, and for the gathered community–for this

I was feeling all that gratitude, too, and the feeling increased when a
recent acquaintance approached and we started talking.  It turns out that
he is involved at a fairly high level in the national and international
agricultural world.  (In any other town it might be surprising to encounter
such a person at a local farm event…)

Our conversation turned to the state of the world.  I mentioned climate change, and he said that climate was nothing compared to the rapidly approaching food shortage.  He said that in thirty years we will not have
enough food to feed the world.  We would have to double production and
build a much larger infrastructure for food distribution, especially in
Africa.  The melon I was holding started to feel heavy.

The problem with both the problems we cited is that they are long term
problems. Human nature and politics being what they are we are failing to
address them, even though we see them coming and need to make big changes
immediately or the suffering in thirty years will be much worse.

Our United Church Mission Committee this week was looking at several crises
of similar scale and severity.  We were feeling overwhelmed.  It was like
this New Yorker cartoon:

Many leading thinkers have been saying that our only hope is a global
change of consciousness or spiritual awakening.  We need to see our oneness
as a planet and gain the wisdom to address long term problems in order to
create a healthy, sustainable way to live for generations to come.

This change of consciousness needs to happen fast.  I hope the United
Church of Strafford and all the other faith communities and secular
inner-work groups in town can draw on their wisdom traditions to help us
gain the enlightened perspective we need and help our children grow into
this consciousness.  Their generation will have to produce the miracles our
generation fails to accomplish.

Our worship service this Sunday will be full of readings and music designed
to help us attain a greater consciousness, and to inspire, strengthen and
reassure us as we face our inner and outer struggles.  Among other things,
the choir will be singing the uplifting Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie
song, “We Are the World,” directed by Annemieke McLane, which was written
to motivate the world to see our oneness and address an African food
crisis.  (You are urged to come sing with the choir–everyone is welcome,
just show up Sunday morning at 8:50.)  You can read details about the
service at

I am so grateful for this entire community including people like the person
on my side of the produce display who is high up in the agricultural world
and the people on the other side of the display who are grounded in this
place and making a difference for the better every day.

I am grateful for Annemieke and Jeremiah McLane, whose magical concert
Friday evening soothed and elevated our spirits, and thankful for all our
local artists who help us through hard times and help us recognize how
richly we are blessed.

I am grateful for the many of you who were at the farm Friday and for the
farmers and growers in town and all who support them.  I am grateful for
the children running free in these fields or learning the old ways of
hunting in the woods, for all who are learning to love the land and be
skilled in a land-based way of life.

I am grateful for that melon.  It was delicious.

We have reasons to be grateful and to hope.  We have things we can do to
change the world for the better.

Thank you for doing your part.
Pastor Tom Kinder

We gather together with freedom of conscience in a community of love and
inquiry. All are welcome, without exception. (from our Covenant)*


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