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cultivating awe and reverence

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”
— John Calvin

We live in a culture of disconnection and severed relationships. We are alienated from the land, especially as our food source. Earth Church provides opportunities to re-discover our relationship to the land by participating in its life within the framework of liturgy and ritual. We believe this is the path to re-enchantment and cultivates a sense of wonderment at our own smallness amidst an entire ecosystem of processes, all working together to create and sustain life.

hands-on experiential WORSHIP

We worship on a biodynamic and certified organic farm and look to the farmscape as laboratory for exploring our sacred covenant with God to steward the Earth. We believe cultivated land (as opposed to the forrest for e.g) is uniquely positioned to teach and guide us in this journey as it lives at the very nexus of our relationship to God, earth, and to others – we rely on it for our very life and it likewise relies on us. We believe that only until we worship in a hands-on experiential way can we fully comprehend the depth of this covenant.

CELEBRATING THE SEASONS

Each season of the year invites corresponding spiritual posture; the winter months ask us to retreat inward within ourselves, to reflect, and to remember and re-tell our sacred stories; whereas the summertime asks us to stretch beyond ourselves and outward into the world and community. There are times throughout our liturgical calendar for feasting and others for fasting, times for work and others for rest and sabbath. On sacred days we gather to ingrain this rhythm of the year into our own living, moving, and having our being. These include but are not limited to:

Tu-Bishvat - (ט״ו בשבט) We celebrate this Kabbalic “New Year of the Trees” as an expression of our anticipation of spring. Together we share in a contemporary Tu-Bishvat sedar of dried fruits and nuts, and a Blessing of fruit tree seedlings in the greenhouse

Ash Wednesday and Lent - We gather in a posture of repentance, remembering the impact that each of us has had on our planet, and reflecting upon how we can be transformed into new people. We write prayers of confession and burn them in a fire, mixing the resulting ashes with the farm’s soil, and annointing one another’s heads with this mixture, reclaiming our belonging to the soil.

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Spring Equinox/ Ostara - Each of us holds inner seeds of possibility that yearn to be nurtured and grow. We express this hope for future fruit by starting seeds in the greenhouse using anointed soil mixture that we created together on Ash Wednesday. Those seeds (green beans) are planted in the community garden at First Presbyterian Church and are frozen at harvest to used in the church’s annual free Thanksgiving meal which serves 300 of our most vulnerable community members.

Eastertide - We reflect on themes of resurrection and transformation - death being converted into new life - using compost as our teacher. We care for a community compost pile from the scraps of our shared meals, and we spray the fields at Roxbury farm with Biodynamic preparation 500 as a walking meditation, blessing the farm with hopes for a bountiful harvest for all.

Ramadan Solidarity Fast- In partnership with all our Muslim brothers and sisters we participate in a day long fast, coming together at sunset for prayer, breaking fast, and iftar, led by our local Muslim youth.

World Communion Sunday - This is a celebration of the diversity of our community which we commemorate with a stone soup supper. Everyone brings a vegetable cut up, either from the supermarket or your garden or CSA share - it doesn’t matter - and we combine them all together - its delicious! We then gather in a litany and song of many languages, and sit at table together for a feast of the Lord’s supper officiated by Rev. Kat.

Sukkot - We celebrate this Jewish festival of the harvest by bringing together clippings from our gardens, yards, and farms to build a sukkah, a reference to the temporary dwellings that the ancient israelites would have built wandering in the desert, and to the transience of all our lives. We invite a local Rabbi to lead us in teaching, song, and celebration.

Advent and Christmas - This is a time to kindle small flames of hope amidst darkness; as the days get shorter and we reflect upon the state of the planet, we look to the next generation, and the promise of God which is incarnate in the Christ child and every one of our children.

IMMERSIVE BIBLE STUDY

At Earth church we employ a variety of modalities to gain a deeper understanding of sacred texts. We are interested in using all of our senses - sight, sound, touch, taste - especially as they are oriented towards the natural world, to better understand the worldview of their original audience. The original “hearers” of the Judeo-Christian bible, for example, would have been an agrarian people, and much of the images in the Old and New Testaments make reference to this as their context. We seek a more intimate acquaintance with these images to gain this renewed perspective. So come and bake bread with us (Luke 13:20) , graft a fruit tree (Rev 22:2), plant seeds (Mark 4:1), cast nets for fish (Matt 13:47), sit under a shady oak tree (Gen 18:1) , drink from a stream (Psalm 42:1), tend to sheep (John 10:11), prune grapevines (John 15:1), smell frankincense and myrrh(Matt 2:1), hyssop (Psalm 51), or craft holy annointing oil from cassia and sweet cinnamon (Exodus 30:22) - the possibilities are endless to indeed “taste and see that God is good!”

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world, and learn what is good for it.”
— Wendell Barry
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PARTICIPATING IN THE LIFE OF THE FARM

We build meaningful worship activities that tie together the themes of the liturgical calendar to the seasons and activities of the farm. Our rituals that cultivate a sense of the inherent sacredness of these activities whether they be enriching the compost as a blessing, feeding animals as prayer, or harvesting vegetables as a means of cultivating gratitude - we do these alongside traditional song, prayer, scripture reading and meditation to make strong connections between the sacred and seemingly ordinary.

CARING FOR THE EARTH

Our worship together renews us in our sense of responsibility and stewardship for creation care. Deeper love compels deeper understanding, and deeper understanding compels deeper service. The great theologian Thomas Aquinas once said: “Any error about creation leads to an error about God.” We believe that so much about God can be discovered just by understanding the way that God created the earth and embued Her with dazzling species and natural wonders, all intended to work together in harmony. At Earth Church, we believe science can be a means to discover spiritual truths. So in order to gain understanding of God, we seek out teachers to help us understand more about our local environmental landscape, providing workshops on everything from soil science, native species, natural habitats, and so much more - and how we as faithful stewards can best preserve these. So come alongside us in our journey by supporting the work of our partner organizations that have so much to teach us about loving the planet entrusted to our care. We do this together as a community from New York City, throughout the Hudson Valley, and all the way up to Albany.

The natural sciences are not irrelevant for this kind of different religion. Rightly understood, they teach us a cosmic amazement. There is a kindof “panentheistic plunge” into the source of all being that by necessity leads into critique of our social norms and values and to their transformation.”
— Dorothy Soelle, "The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance"