"They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands." - Isaiah 65:21-22
Wendell Berry says, "plant sequoias." That's a little more faith than I can muster. But the new church I am starting with my friend Rebecca did host a garlic-planting party in November. And that feels like an act of hope.
Gilead Chicago is a church that doesn't exist...yet. It's mostly a beautiful website. And it's Rebecca and me buying people coffee, talking to them about Jesus, and hoping that some of them stick around.
Meanwhile, garlic has to be planted in the fall. It has to rest in the snow-covered Chicago soil for months. It has to send up leaves and then scapes in spring. And finally, in July – eight unimaginable months from when we planted it – it will be ready to harvest, and eat, and share with our neighbors.
A timeline on our Google Drive says that by then Rebecca and I will be celebrating weekly worship with Gilead. But where that worship will be, I can't tell you. Who will be in attendance is a mystery. And the funding...(pops a Tums).
Like Jeremiah, we (mostly) trust that God will bring this work to fruition. That those who plant will stick around to reap and be joined by others. When I'm feeling faithful, I can almost taste it.
God, bless our garlic and every seed of hope your people dare to plant.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.