Welcome to Cason's 27th Annual Pumpkin Patch Festival!
But I believe that the Pumpkin Patch has a much larger purpose, one that is often neglected.
Not only is the pumpkin patch a fundraising effort for our operations, missions and outreach programs, it is also a way for our church to be involved with the community. Every year, people from all over come to enjoy the "sea" of orange pumpkins. Many families mark the occasion with photographs of their children taken at the patch. As a part of The Patch, preschools and elementary schools have come to visit, hear a story and choose their unique pumpkin that is just their size.
True, there aren’t many theological reasons for pumpkins, although if pressed I could riff on pumpkin themes. A single seed can grow a larger pumpkin, a nod to small acts of faith growing. The different colors and shapes can be a message, too. And there’s the connection to farming and food. Our Patch helps employ growers and truck drivers. Our pumpkin supplier, Hamby, employs 30 full-time employees and 600 seasonal workers on a Native American reservation in New Mexico where the unemployment is more than 40 percent. Hamby’s company sends out between 900 and 1,000 semi-trucks each year, each with around 2,400 large pumpkins and 1,000 smaller ones.
Furthermore, the patch creates time for fellowship among church members. Whether it’s working together to set up the parking lot, unloading pumpkins or selling them, those involved have the opportunity to make new friends, meet new members and reunite with people they may not have seen or spoken to in a while. It also creates a shared cause, an opportunity for everyone young or old to participate in the fulfillment of our mission.
But finally and probably most importantly, it’s an opportunity for those outside our walls to spend some time on our campus. It’s a good family opportunity that lets people see the other side of the church, people hanging out and talking to each other and enjoying themselves. The Pumpkin Patch is an outreach opportunity where we are able to share the love of Christ with our neighbors and friends! People who may have never turned into our parking lot are excited to visit or buy pumpkins, and if we do our jobs right, have the opportunity to leave knowing more about Christ.
In the past I have heard some say that Pumpkin Patch is not the place for proselytizing, that people do not come to the patch to hear about Jesus; they come to buy a pumpkin, and we should respect their beliefs. That is an example of “stinking thinking.” Let us not forget that first and foremost, we are a church. And the true business of the church is to make disciples for the transformation of the world. It is literally our JOB to be the Good News for those who have not heard the Good News. These people have come on our campus, and we should never be afraid to tell them about Jesus. After all, the money they give us to purchase a pumpkin goes to promoting mission and ministries that spread the name of Jesus. Pumpkin Patch should be a place of opportunity: opportunities for us to get to know folks outside of our church, opportunities for us to share the love of Christ through our actions, and opportunities to show our community that we are a place they can come to that is friendly and inviting. That’s really what the pumpkin patch is all about. Yes, proceeds fund operations, outreach activities, and worship opportunities. But it’s not about selling pumpkins; it’s about relationships, creating a space where all will find and know the love of God.
So this year, if you find yourself in the patch, remember: these aren’t customers; they’re potential believers. The patch isn’t a sales floor; it’s our mission field. Remember our call to spread the word, and do so with confidence and joy. You don’t have to hit them over the head with the Bible. Remember the advice of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” Smile, be joyful, be friendly and make our friends feel welcome. Don’t haggle over prices; don’t scold overly enthusiastic children. Instead, remember that these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Cason, we have an opportunity over the next few weeks to truly show others the love of God. It is my prayer that we have a very successful patch … not just because we raised a lot of money, but because we touched a lot of souls.
That was beautifully said David. I pray for many blessings on the Cason Pumpkin Patch this year and many years to come. I miss volunteering, but I’m praying for all the workers who volunteer their time at the Patch. God bless you David. You are a wonderful Pastor and I so enjoy tuning in on Sunday mornings to watch the 9:15 service. Your sermons are wonderful, honest and thought provoking. I will one day be back to watch and listen in person. I do love Cason and miss being there terribly.
Theologically speaking..... helP