• Voices for Agrarian Life

Plant a Little Love by Carrie Ann Fox

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

Since moving to Virginia to live with my husband Nate, we have been attending a small rural church, Marvin Chapel United Methodist, in Berryville, VA. It is a charming historic chapel built in 1881 and is home to a very small congregation of lovable locals, primarily senior citizens who have attended the church for most of their lives. No new flashy church, Marvin Chapel sits nestled at the edge of the woods, hugged by pastures of grazing bovine. It is the quintessential rural chapel, straight out of a picture book. Just a small white building with an illuminated arch of stained glass above a wooden door. What a special place it is. Special because of its surroundings, but even more so because it is loved by its members.

It takes a lot of love to maintain a historic building and with a small congregation, we each take greater responsibility for keeping it up-to-snuff and honoring our place of worship. Monetary offerings are essential for the functioning of the ministry and property maintenance. But beyond tithing, we are asked to give more fully of ourselves for the benefit of our church family. Each one of us has something special to offer. In sharing this, we become closer with the church and well, it’s just fun to get involved!

Noticing that the front flower beds of Marvin were in need of a little love with the seasonal changes, Nate and I offered to stock them. Colorful flowers and greenery bring delight and positive energy to a space! They speak such love and care.

One Saturday, Nate and I visited Nall’s Market just down the road. It’s a quaint farm store boasting a gorgeous rainbow of ornamental plants and farm fresh fruits and veggies. We made a fun date of it (dating becomes opportunistic when you are married with children). We chatted with the owner about the overwhelming rain we’ve had and how farmers in North Carolina and Florida were losing fields of melons because of it. He told us a funny story about the Pennsylvanian woman who grew the flowers he sells. I was thrilled by the jungle-like display of over a hundred hanging floral baskets. Just for fun, we tried a Californian Pluot, a cross between a plum and an apricot, for the first time! By the end of our visit, we had scored some wildly impactful plants, and relished the time Nate and I spent together as we planted and tended the flower beds at our lovely church.

I think Marvin Chapel was happy with her little “floral facelift.” Our new neighbors saw us working and stopped to say hello on their way into town. Two hours later, I received a text from them with a picture. They had taken the time to purchase a new WELCOME mat for the entry of the church. What a sweet surprise for Sunday churchgoers. Thanks neighbors!

Our offer to give a facelift to the church led to such wonderfully meaningful experiences which included spending time together, connecting with folks in the community and enjoying the beauty of living things. It feels so good to give, and as Christians, we know we receive so much more through our giving. When we give, it inspires others to give as well. These are ways we can plant a little love in and around our community.

Beyond tithing, how can you give more of yourself?

What special skills, abilities, or hobbies do you have?

Do you fish? Plan a members’ trip.

Are you a musician? Offer your gift of song at service.

Love to cook? Plan a cooking class or special after-service meal for your church family.

I invite you to do something special for your church this month.

Get creative, show your love, and when in doubt, plant flowers!

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