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We shall come rejoicing

Come back to the farm in rural Michigan

A drive on a country road leads to a deeper appreciation for Michigan’s farmers, affected by the winds of weather and change.


Senior Content Editor

Sheaf of wheat
~ Image CongerDesign from Pixabay

Last summer Lynn and I took the “back road” to his high school reunion. As we drove through the countryside south of Big Rapids, we found ourselves in Amish country. Suddenly I spied something I have rarely seen before. “Look, Lynn!! Sheaves!!” I was thrilled.

Perhaps I am too easily excited. But I have loved that old hymn, “Bringing in the Sheaves,” since I was kid, listening to the voice of Tennessee Ernie Ford from our family record player. I was delighted to meet a “sheaf” in person. 

“By and by the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”

Yes, we are at that time of year in Michigan spoken of in the verses of the hymn. These classic evangelistic lyrics, of course, are talking about souls, not corn or soybeans, potatoes or sugarbeets. Still, in the fall my memories return to my rural roots on a “necktie farm” east of Vicksburg. “Necktie” because my grandfather labored in town by day and worked the fields during his time-off. With that as my growing-up, my thoughts and prayers are often with the state’s farmers. 

On a back road near Boyne Falls, two weeks ago, another exclamation from our front seat. “Lynn, look how short that corn is!” This time I was not thrilled. Corn is meant to be knee-high by the 4th of July not the 4th of October. I despair for our neighbors, county by county, who are seeking to make a living off the land. 

The year 2019 is not a time of rejoicing for farmers across Michigan and the U.S.A. Here are two ag-related articles from Bridge Magazine that speak to a few of the issues: Michigan farm country testifies to widespread crisis as crops go unplanted and The graying of Michigan farmers and what they will leave behind

So, with another time of harvest upon us, I turn to Peggy Paige, retired Michigan pastor and recently certified Rural Chaplain, to share her top ten prayers for rural Michigan … 

Thank You, Lord, for the sun and the rain and for the fruits of the fields.

We thank You, for valley and hills, for sunlight and wind.

Thank You for the sky’s rich color and for the good black earth which nourishes the seeds.

Thank you, God, for farmers who labor through sunshine, rain, and frost.

Almighty God, calm the storms that threaten our crops and our livelihood.

Bless the farmers who work with the animals which provide our food and clothing.

We pray for those who work the land that they may receive a fair price for their labor.

Bless those who live close to the land who know the struggles, fears, joys, and rewards of life in a rural area.

Almighty God, give us wisdom to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them and that they may be available for generations yet to come.

Peggy’s Number 10 comes from The United Methodist Book of Worship p. 430. Perhaps you could ask your pastor to share it with your congregation sometime, in gratitude and celebration for those in our midst who raise livestock, prune the vines, and till the soil.

O Lord, you have given us the gift of land. May we ever protect and preserve it. O Lord, you have given us the gift of water. May we keep it pure and safe. O Lord, you have given us the gift of air. May we keep it pure and fresh. O Lord, you have given us the gift of plants and trees. May we ever use and protect them justly. O Lord, you have given us the gift of birds and animals. May we preserve and enjoy them. O Lord, you have given us care of the earth. O Lord, we accept the care of these gifts as our sacred stewardship. Amen.

We will talk more with Chaplain Peggy in the days ahead about ministry with Michigan’s rural communities.

“When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”

Together, sowing for the Master, we may find joy.

Last Updated on November 1, 2023

The Michigan Conference