Monthly Archives: December 2016

Subsistence Farming and the Gospel: An Advent Reflection


Over the Advent season my congregation of Park Place Church of God is engaging in a series that highlights “the Jesus who was cradled in a feeding trough coming to a world in great need of food security.”

The following is my contribution.

Globally, women feed the world. Western economists have often obscured this fact by failing to include unpaid agricultural work in reports. Yet in most societies in most of the world, subsistence farming is necessary to supplement waged work, and frequently it is women who are growing, threshing, processing, and/or rearing the food that feeds the community. Often, this takes place on communal or else illegally occupied land (guerrilla farming in rural areas, guerrilla gardening in urban ones). This work, though essential and lifesaving, is rendered invisible and marginal within the systems of global capital.

Of course, the scriptures attest that the essential and lifesaving are often invisible and marginal according to the systems of the world. The land awaiting a messiah was of little account to the empires that passed it back and forth across the centuries. The Messiah was born to a tiny agrarian community forced to pay a percentage of its harvest to the military dictatorship that simultaneously ruled and ignored it. Yet that birth was both a reminder and a sign that God “has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.” We thus see in the birth of the Messiah God’s solidarity with the invisible work tucked away in kitchens, gardens, farms, and fields all over the world.