taking the words of Jesus seriously

EDITOR’S NOTE: This reflection by Kaji Douša is part of the 2019 Growing the Light: Advent Reflections on Farmworker Justice.

“He said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’” — Matthew 3:7b-12

There is work in the fields.

Sun and soil, wind, rain and the seasons have their demands.

The ones who buy the seeds and lease or own the lands have their demands.

The managers, the pace-setters, the quota-getters, the overseers: they have their demands, as well.

The timing and the rhythm are everything.

The posture and terms are everything, too.

My ancestors knew this posture. They knew the terms. The knew the work. The sun, the soil, the pace, the oversight.

Their rhythm, their timing is written into my grandparents, parents, into me.

My child knows it, too.

Do. Repeat. Shift.

Do. Repeat. Shift.

And: again.

When that is my rhythm, too, something remarkable happens:

There is a rustling.

A wind picks up.

And their voices cry out from the wilderness:



Look where you are but then turn because there is more.

Turn because the ancestors saw this story before you got there. They knew the pitch and the season and the beat before you ever heard it.


Turn and take your face from the task and look to the sky.


There is a breeze just now but it wants to be a storm and it will be.


The ancestors are whispering, and just like the breeze they’re about to shout.


There is fruit to bear.

But it might not be the fruit your overseers told you to plant.

There is fruit to bear.

But it’s likely to be born of your own inspiration.

It could be that your labor is fruitful:

But not so much for you.

If the labor is hard but the fruits are distinctly not yours to share?

Then maybe the ancestors are chanting a different tune, setting a new pace, calling forth a shifted order that says:

You matter. Your time and your labor matter. Your posture and your pacing and your leisure matter.

And you are worthy of the fruits.

You are worthy. In Jesus’ name.


Learn more about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ internationally-recognized Fair Food Program that uses the purchasing power of 14 corporations (like McDonald’s and Walmart) to guarantee farmworkers in seven states the right to work free from violence, sexual assault, and forced labor and to take breaks, seek shade, pause to drink water, and to labor in respectful conditions.

Searching for a gift that matters this Christmas? When you make a donation to the Fair Food Program in honor of someone, your gift goes to protect and advance farmworkers’ human rights. And the Fair Food Program has beautiful holiday cards you can print or which can be emailed. Give a gift of justice, respect, and hope today.

About The Author


The Rev. Kaji Douša is Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, “The Park,” in New York City. In the congregation’s 207 years, she is the first woman called to this role. Her ministry focuses on deepening connections, empowering voices, and finding refreshment in Spirit-filled ways. An award-winning preacher and liturgist, she has held several fellowships including the Beatitudes Society, the UCC Pension Boards' Next Generation Leadership Initiative, the UCC Presidential Fellowship, and Chair of The New Sanctuary Coalition.

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