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Valentine’s Day at the Farm: Reflections on Love and Service


God wants us to fall in love

by Brian Suehs-Vassel, Director of Nazareth Farm

“I want to fall in love with you.” That is the kind of phrase that we hear this time of year as dates are scheduled and chocolates and flowers are exchanged. When I think of that phrase I am reminded of the refrain from the song “Love Song for a Savior” by Jars of Clay. For the hip young kids, just trust me that it was just about the coolest Christian pop song of the 1990s. The song takes the predictable idea of a love song between a couple and sets it between a person and God.

In a romantic relationship we know how people express love to one another. Gifts, kind words, caring acts, loving touch are just a few. If we are lucky we get to see these acts played out in our lives and the lives of those around us.

As I reflect on Valentine’s Day here at the Farm, I am on the same page as Jars of Clay, thinking about the relationship of love God has with us. I am lucky to live at a place in Nazareth Farm in which God expresses his love to everyone who visits the farm in many ways. Just to name a few…

  • strangers greeted by a hug in the parking lot
  • the beauty of creation seen during a hike or under a sky full of stars
  • delicious meals where everyone has a place at the table
  • time and energy helping God repair peoples homes and lives

God does want us to fall in love with him. We can see this in the parable of the prodigal son. When the selfish son returns home, the father treats him like the most important person in the world. Even though we might play the role of selfish son or daughter some times, God loves us recklessly, in ways that we probably think are foolish. God wants us to fall in love with him as much as he already loves us. While I believe the farm is a special place that God reveals his love, he is there with us every day as well. It is a good reminder for us to ask that special question “Where have I seen God today? Where have I seen God this week?” If we can pay attention, I believe we can see the ways that God is courting us to fall deeper and deeper in love with him.

Where Love and Justice Meet

By Tom Wiley, Staff Member

At the farm we often talk about the four cornerstones that guide this community: prayer, service, community, and simplicity. As someone who has been with this community for just about a year now, I would say though that the essence of this community, our starting point, is love and care for God and others.

This work of love begins with the call that I would like to think all of our volunteers and staff feel on some level—the call to go out from our daily lives and our own communities to do service among the people of Appalachia. This love grows as our volunteers work with the homeowners who invite us into their homes to do home repair. It deepens as we pray and worship together, looking for the divine in all that we do. It takes root in the simplicity of our environmentally conscious lifestyle that calls us to turn off lights, conserve water, recycle, compost, and spend time in nature. It increases as we live together in community on a retreat that is often lighthearted and a lot of fun, but also a time when deep connections and friendships can be made. This love, in all of its dimensions, can help us find new meaning in our own lives and also give us the desire to better know the people here in Appalachia.

This work of love gives us the desire to work for justice, too. This is because ultimately we must ask the question, “How can we love someone and treat her or him unjustly?” At the end of each retreat week I always hope that our volunteers have learned something about the need to respect the dignity of all people, and everything that implies. I hope they continue to ask questions about issues of justice and discover what justice looks like in their own communities. I hope they continue to care for and conserve God’s creation, which they experienced in all its beauty during their week here in the mountains. I hope they continue to live in solidarity with people here in Appalachia and maybe return someday. Love and justice meet in a special way at Nazareth Farm, and I hope that this community continues to grow in both.

When there was LOVE

By Silva Matti, Student at Rochester Institute of Technology and volunteer in January 2016

It was Thursday night
Snowy cold night and everyone sitting in a big circle
Passing a cross †
Telling the most memorable moments in Naz farm:
Some said meeting others
Some said group work!
Some said simplicity, and many other treasured experiences
Some even said LOVE,
But wait, LOVE! how did they recognize it?
And the answer was in the majority’s response:
Yes, SMILE was all over the place,
Smiles that came out from sincere hearts:
Big smiles
Shy smiles
Even Laughter (lots of this)
OH, and there was these smiles with teary eyes!!
Teary eyes for saying goodbyes with a smile of “you were not a stranger but a friend that I haven’t met before.”
When there was LOVE, There was Smile
Where there was LOVE, There was Smile
Where is LOVE, There will always be Smile


The 2015 Run 4 Naz Farm Team

Because last year’s Inaugural Run for Nazareth Farm was such an extraordinary success, we have decided to repeat the effort again this coming May, and we are looking for enthusiastic runners (of all ability levels) for this year’s “Team Nazareth Farm,” which will participate in the 200-mile Ragnar Relay in beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  This year’s relay race takes place on May 13-14th (Friday-Saturday).  This amazing race, which spans the entire length of Cape Cod, is run as a 12-person relay in which each member of the team runs three times within a 24-hour period.  It is a truly fun and rewarding event and a great way to help raise needed funds for our community.  Last year’s effort brought together many members of extended Nazareth Farm family and generated more than $15,000 in support for the Farm’s mission in Appalachia.

Do think you might be interested in lacing up for this year’s Run for Nazareth Farm? If so, please email this year’s team captain, Adam Siple, at adamsiple@gmail.com.  And please don’t delay; the team registration deadline is in early March.

Christmas Party 2015 at Doddridge County Park

Nazareth Farm once again hosted its annual community Christmas party on December 12th at Doddridge County Park. The day was filled with great games, crafts, music, food, snacks, conversation, and, of course, a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Lots of fun and merriment were had by all. We would like to give a special thanks to all of our volunteers who gave their time to help us out, to those whose donations make events like this possible, to Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and Twinkles the Elf, and to everyone who came out to celebrate Christmas with us.

Nazareth Farm Christmas Party

Nazareth Farm Christmas Party Press Release

Fall of 2015

  Nazareth Farm will host its annual Christmas Party on Saturday, December 12 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Doddridge County Park main lodge building. The Park is located on Snow Bird Rd, 1.1 miles off US Rte. 50 in West Union, WV.

            Everyone is invited no matter where they live or how old they are. There will be food, cookies and refreshments for everyone as well as many exciting activities for the kids. Children will get the chance to meet and take a picture with Santa, Mrs. Claus and a real north pole elf! Each child will receive a present from Santa and also a new book. There will also be many games and crafts for all the children.

            Nazareth Farm is a not for profit organization that transforms lives through a service-retreat experience. We are devoted to living out the Gospel message through the cornerstones of community, simplicity, prayer, and service. We serve alongside our neighbors to address substandard housing by providing home repair. We celebrate the richness of Appalachia and experience God by building relationships between our volunteers and the local community. Our annual Christmas party is a long standing tradition and an opportunity to bring joy to our local community and get to know our neighbors. And to help us all prepare to celebrate Christmas.

            Please call Brian Suehs-Vassel, the Director of Nazareth Farm if you have any questions at 304-782-2742, or visit our website www.nazarethfarm.org.ChristmasPoster2015

A New Blog and a Year of Projects

Nazareth Farm is excited to launch our new blog that will appear here on our new website! This blog will be a place to share reflections, photos, your lyrics to “review of the day” songs, and whatever else you feel belongs on a Nazareth Farm blog. The staff will be writing and creating some content based on our own experiences of living out the four cornerstones year-round. We also invite all of you in our larger Nazareth Farm community to email at nazarethfarm@gmail.com with your own reflections, photos, or anything else that you think would be good for our blog, so we can post it here for all to see.

This is also where we will be posting photos of our completed worksites so you can see the progress made since your volunteer week. Below is a photo gallery of just a few of our 40 projects that we’re thankful for completing in 2015. You can click on any of the photos below to scroll through the gallery.