Last Thursday I spent the evening in the Old Milan School in Milan Minnesota. The folks at CURE hosted a gathering of people from the Upper MN River basin interested in a local foods movement. I felt as if I were in the presence of a saving remnant. These are the people who see a different way in the world-- it's not a world of corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see. It is a rich and beautiful land-- with neighbors, food, the embrace of community, justice and beauty. Besides which, if things should go to hell in a hand basket and I can't feed my kids mangos on a winter night in Minnesota, I could feed them Audrey's elderberries and Mary Jo's beef and Carol's winter lettuce grown right there in Milan. A saving remnant indeed!
A 1936 essay by Albert Jay Nock appeared in the Atlantic Monthly pondering the Saving Remnant from the book of Isaiah and modern America. He says:
"Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about... They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
Nock ends the essay saying "....hence a few of those who feel the prophetic afflatus might do better to apply themselves to serving the Remnant. It is a good job, an interesting job, much more interesting than serving the masses.."
I confess that I think of my own work as serving the Remnant--a good and interesting job--surrounded by many colleagues.
But right now I have to go out and play in the mud with my little kids.