So, why do we band together each Sunday afternoon in the summer to pick up the typically one ton (!) of leftover produce from the Columbia Pike Farmer’s Market, taking it back to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) for repackaging?
We do it for two simple reasons:
1. It’s a way to practice Jesus’ top two commands: love God and love your neighbor. Those two active loves sum up, Jesus says, the basic gist of the whole Old Testament law. So in a sense, when we do the work of collecting crates of cauliflower, cucumbers, cantaloupes, etc., and haul them back to the warehouse, we are in a way loving our neighbors just like God’s people were asked to do back in the day. Have you ever read passages like this one in Leviticus 19 (9 & 10)? “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.” I love that passage—God has always been into caring for the underdog in very concrete ways. And while most of us don’t have land or harvests, we can love our neighbors by practicing—in tandem with very generous merchants–a little modern day gleaning equivalent. These leftover veggies help feed about 1600 families each week.
2. It’s a way to take Restoration into our larger community. A lot of us who are already followers of Jesus want to see our friends come to church. “Oh, if my friends could just hear so and so preach” or “I think they’d love our music” or “If they could just see how cool our kids program is”…. But many of our friends and neighbors won’t naturally wander into a church building on Sundays. So, why not take the church, or at least a small group of friends from the body of Christ, into the community? That’s what we do when we band together for 3 hours on Sunday afternoon in South Arlington. With a handful of Restoration folks (and hopefully some non Restoration friends as well), we go—trusting that Jesus’ presence goes with us, showing up in and through our interactions, relationships, conversations. While we don’t always know how it happens, we trust that He’s revealing himself through us when we, so to speak, take “church” to the streets (or to the corner of Columbia Pike & Walter Reed, and then to the warehouse down on Nelson Street). Jesus says he’ll be there when we are there, together, in his name. We believe him.
So, if either of these reasons intrigues you, or if you just want to have fun doing some sweaty, tangible work (nice switch in this DC world of ideas and paper pushing!), give Melody Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lauren Odderstol (email@example.com) a shout. We’ll be doing it June 30th – August 18th, Sundays from 12:15-3:30, and we’d love for you (and your kids from age 5 up if you have them and will watch them!) to join us. It is a good thing.
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