Monday, August 29, 2011

Gleaners in the Field of God

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest... you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. -- Leviticus 19:9-10

Gleaning is an ancient practice of faithful hospitality and generosity. It is listed as a law in Leviticus and is drawn gracefully for us in Bible stories.

I love the idea of gleaning and have for many years used it as meditative image for regular pastoral and now episcopal communication. As I move about, listen, watch and read I feel kinship to the ancient gleaners.

Often I am an alien in the land: I am often in a place for the first time. I am dependent upon the kindness of strangers and the expertise of others -- weather forecasters, garbage collectors, mail deliverers, airplane pilots, plumbers, electricians, information technologists, dentists.

Always I am in need of generosity, of grace. This list also is very long. Just today, I moved into the left lane without checking closely enough and a friendly horn tap and braking and smile were offered rather than road rage.

It was pure grace to be in McAllen, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico -- border towns connected by bridge across the Rio Grande. The Advance Committee gathered for the needed business and visited border ministries of our church. The genuine friendship and partnership of the Methodist Church of Mexico and the United Methodist Church in Texas are remarkable witnesses to the goodness of God as they work among the people and welcome mission work teams from around the world.

As I walked across the square in Reynosa with a leader of the Methodist Church of Mexico, I commented on the beauty around us. He responded, "Yes, it is beautiful but it is empty. People are afraid to come here." I spoke of the violence in Arizona, of the reality of violence and of beauty in every place. He responded, "There is a difference. When it happened in Arizona, no one says all Arizona is bad. When it happens here, many say all Mexico is bad." We walked on in this realization, yet in hope for God's law to be fulfilled in us, and God's grace to abound in our world.

In the square in Reynosa, I was again a gleaner in the field of God.

With gratitude for God's hospitality and compassion,

--Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, MS Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

United Methodist Communications


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