Charles Robertson is a lifelong Presbyterian and a freshman at North Carolina State University, where he studies agronomy.
Preached at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, North Carolina, on Youth Sunday, May 15, 2022.
Good morning. My name is Charlie Robertson, and I am a senior at D. H. Conley High School. In the fall I will attend North Carolina State University, where I will major in agronomy. Agronomy is the study of soil management and crop production. I plan to work in eastern North Carolina’s agriculture industry after college. First Presbyterian Church has been a big part of my life from a very young age. I have been active in many different parts of our church since I was a little child in vacation Bible school. I have attended Sunday school and confirmation, helped with congregational activities, and gone on mission trips and fellowship trips. Taking part in these activities has allowed me to meet lifelong friends, strengthen my relationship with the Lord, and gain many new experiences through helping others. My experiences in confirmation and Christian education really rooted my faith and allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of Scripture and the ways in which Jesus can work and live through each of us. Those times also allowed me to profess my faith and to become a member of this church, and I am really grateful for a space in which to do that.
The Scripture lesson today comes from the book of Leviticus, chapter 19, verses 9 through 18. Much of this reading has ties to agriculture, and like I tell everyone, you can always relate anything back to agriculture because it is involved in everything that we do. I chose this Scripture because my interests and career path help me to hear the good news in it. Here we read about the sundry laws and how they teach us to look out for our fellow human beings. As sophisticated as life has become, all these lessons still apply to many areas of our lives millennia after they were written. I find that to be very powerful. Verse 9 says, “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.” If you have not heard of the term gleaning, it is the process of going to the field and picking up the produce that is left behind by a farmer after harvest. Many of the products that are left behind are still edible but might not be the prettiest. For thousands of years, farmers have followed this process of leaving some crops behind, and it allows people who need food to gather it. This is still practiced today with produce and sweet potatoes in North Carolina.
The reason the Israelites performed this practice was to allow the poor and needy to have access to the fruits of their labor. This was one of the ways that God showed the Israelites that just as God provided for them, they should provide for others. Verse 9 also says, “You shall not reap to the very corners of your field.” This allows for easy access for those who need it. Many farmers still practice this today because of the meaning found in leaving food at the edges of the field, knowing that you might help someone who greatly needs the food in an unspoken way that draws little attention.
Verse 10 continues, “Nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.” I find this to be really meaningful because it raises my awareness that someone is always going to be worse off than I am, and that if we can do something to help someone out, then we are living more Christ-like lives. I have always enjoyed serving others, and I aim to live my life by these ideas as much as I possibly can. I have already learned so much about serving others in my youth career by working at the food bank, building handicap accessible ramps for those in need, and doing yardwork.
Just as the farmer sows seed every year, I have done the same in my experience as a youth here at First Presbyterian Church. This planting season, as I sow the seeds of my faith, I prepare for the harvest of my future. The good news is that along the way, God promises to provide enough food from the corners of the field for everyone in need. As both literal and metaphorical farmers, we have a responsibility to give what we can, knowing that we will have needs, too.
I want to give a huge thank-you to my family for supporting me and standing behind me in everything I do. I also would like to thank Brian Dilday for getting me involved in the youth group and for taking such good care of us on all our adventures and for being such a wonderful role model and beacon of energy throughout everything. I also want to thank Dr. John Ogle for being Mr. Dilday’s “right-hand man” and showing up to every youth event with his sense of humor and unwavering support of each of us. We have had some really good times, and I hope to continue to strengthen that relationship with both Mr. Dilday and Dr. Ogle.
I would like to thank my sponsoring elder from confirmation class, Mr. Bill Farrior, for his support in each area of my life. I will always remember the spiritual guidance and good memories we made while eating dinner together at Cubbie’s and hanging out at the farm. Finally, I would like to thank each person sitting here today and every person who has been part of my spiritual journey thus far in this church. I have learned about God’s goodness through each of you, and I cannot thank you enough.