M Douglas Meeks, a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, says that there are basically five economy rules in the Bible:
1. Don’t charge interest to the poor
2. Don’t harvest your fields to the edges, but leave gleanings
3. Practice the tithe
4. Practice hospitality to the stranger
5. Keep the Sabbath
All of these are fascinating rules for the care and unity of society, but I’m going to talk only about one of them – number 2.
The reason for not harvesting fields all the way to the edges is so that the poor can collect what they need to eat. By leaving the edges unharvested, we are reminded that all that is in this world belongs not to us but to God. God claims what grows on the edges to feed those who live on the edge. It’s pretty beautiful, actually.
Queen Anne UMC practices a gleaning ministry twice a month. One of the great things about Seattle is the vitality of our neighborhoods; many of them have vibrant and exciting farmer’s markets. Queen Anne is one such neighborhood. Every Thursday evening during the summer, Queen Anne closes down part of West Crocket St. to host the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market (http://qafma.net/). Several of our members go around to the various vendors to request their leftover produce. They bring the food back to the church, prepare and freeze it, and make it ready to give to various organizations which feed people who are poor.
This past week our volunteers gleaned, chopped, and froze over 120 pounds of fresh produce. Thank you, gleaners. When food banks are primarily stocked with non-perishable food, it becomes difficult for poor folks to find fresh produce. This 120 pounds will provide good nutrition for people who most need it.