In the beginning there was a farm. Seriously. Don’t think mid-western corn production, that’s an abomination in terms of land stewardship and biblical food production. Think of the most diverse vegetable patch and orchard combination you’ve ever seen. Then imagine about ten times the diversity and a fraction of the order and you’ll be closer to what we’ve long referred to as Eden. And remember there were people and animals there too. Our sources say God put them there to be good stewards of the land–to maintain its health and productivity.
Eden is a model for us – of the perfection that was, and is to come. Eden teaches us that diversity sustains life. God created bugs that feed upon other bugs, birds that eat insects, mammals that host insects and fertilize the earth. God created deep-rooting plants that mine nutrients from deep underground and drop them as leaves for the shallow rooted plants to consume. The tree supports the vine, which produces fruit for the birds that fertilize the tree, which shades the leafy shrub while it shades out smaller plants that compete for nutrients with the tree. This harmony is descriptive of Eden – and prescriptive of God’s coming Reign.
We are called, in Genesis, to “till and keep” the land. This is part of our call to re-establish Eden, to envision and enact the New Earth, to realize the Reign of God. The small farm is central to our memory of Creation. The first specific place we remember is a Farm – soil, plants and animals in healthy, sustainable relationships. It can, and perhaps more often should, be said that our collective home – our start and finish – is Eden. In terms of Genesis, there is no more reverent, biblical, or visionary calling for a church than to be witnessing to the coming Reign of God by aspiring to the perfect Creation of God – the farm at Eden.
May God be with us.