This Sunday Church in the Cliff will be worshipping on a football field turned organic farm: Paul Quinn College’s Food for Good Urban Farm.
Now this may be a rookie mistake on my part — the moving of our eleven oclock worship service to a new venue. Have you ever been to a church that relocated their main gathering just to have a “fresh encounter” with Jesus? Much less moving it outside on a Texas summer day? And to a low-income neighborhood, like Highland Hills, which is significantly further south in Oak Cliff than the areas most of us routinely visit? (Click here for directions to the farm).
As unusual as it may seem, our church actually has a long history of pushing the envelope in terms of worship venue. From its very inception this community has gathered in unlikely places, including art galleries, community rec centers with a view of the pond, and indie music spots.
If you are one that finds the location change stressful, I hope you will come anyway and trust that wherever we are gathered we find the church. If you are super excited I hope you will bring a friend—maybe one who long ago gave up on organized religion but likes local food.
But Sunday is not only about being courageous enough to worship in an unusual location. Nor is it just an effort to catch up to the groovy set in the neighborhood. (Local food is trendy, after all, especially in Oak Cliff. Exhibit A–Check out this fundraiser put on at Paul Quinn by area celebrity chefs a few months back.)
No— we gather at the farm because like Jesus, we like to eat. Indeed, the table is one of our most trusted meeting places with the Divine. The Eucharist is more than a symbol, it is a meal. Or at least a snack. It is food. Bread grown from grain, juice pressed from fruit. Like all food it has its origins in water, soil, and sunshine which falls freely from heaven. And it reminds us that every meal is an invitation to build community, to cultivate gratitude for the gifts of the earth, and to nourish our bodies.
We gather on a farm to celebrate a vision of our city in which fresh and healthy food are available for all. And to stand with the prophet Isaiah who says that hunger, and food deserts, like the one in Highland Hills, are not what God wants for Gods people.
Lastly, we gather at the farm because we too are hungry.
And the farm is deeply restorative for weary folks who spend too much time indoors, in front of a computer screen, and under artificial light. Are you hungry for the smell of chocolate mint in the air? Does your soul crave time in the company of 1500 strawberry plants— located in a bed that runs end zone to end zone? Do your ears need to hear the sermon preached by bees pollinating blackberry bushes and a press box with a future as a chicken coop? (Hungry for more than soul food? The farm also has jalapenos, bell peppers, tomatoes, yellow squash, turnips, snap beans, yellow onions, parsley, basil and chocolate mint available for purchase.)
Join us this Sunday, June 5th for a special morning to conclude Eastertide. 10 AM tour/weed pick, 11 AM worship– including communion with locally sourced ingredients. Bring a water bottle, wear a hat and sun protective clothing, bring an umbrella for shade. Children, as always, are very welcome.
Peace and all good things,
PS Some bikers are contemplating a ride to the farm. Email churchinthecliff@gmail for details.
If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows will become like noon. YHWH will always guide you, giving relief in desert places. God will give strength to your bones and you will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never run dry.