It’s Harvest Festival time of year. The harvest festivals of my childhood saw the altar of our small village church laden with sheaves of corn, mounds of green beans, ripe-red tomatoes, carrots, apples, pears (was everyone an Alan Titchmarsh-grade gardener back then?). These days our church altar is more likely to be laden with tins of soup, beans or other ‘non-perishables’ that we pass on to our local food bank: all very worthy, but where are the vibrant hotchpotch of colours and the raw-earth smells of my childhood?
Every kind of fruit and vegetable is available year-round on our supermarket shelves. As a result, it becomes all too easy to lose the rhythm of seedtime and harvest, of plenty and scarcity, which characterised life for generations before us and remains elemental to life in many less developed parts of the world today.
Despite this, the signs of harvest are around us, if we look hard enough. This year I saw bright combine harvester headlights in wheat fields, out working long after dark while the late-August weather stayed dry. I also met residents along Alaska’s coast for whom the annual salmon run provides the staple diet during the fearsomely long and dark Alaskan winter. These reminders of our dependence on our Creator God make me pause, and give me reason to celebrate the abundance of his creation.
But harvest isn’t only about the farmers, fishermen and green-fingered. The ‘Creation Mandate’ at the beginning of Genesis means all of us are co-creators with God. In Loren Wilkinson’s words: “God invites [us] to participate with him in shaping the world”. This mandate is worked out in how each of us goes about our everyday work, as well as in our community-building, art-making, gospel-witnessing, child-raising, peace-making, justice-bringing… Green fingered or not, we are all sowers and reapers right where we are, confident that ‘he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food … will enlarge the harvest of [our] righteousness’ (2 Corinthians 9:10).
So let’s give thanks for the harvest. Let’s do all we can to ensure everyone shares in this abundance. And let us sow and reap, generously and wisely, in everything we do.
Nick is an HR consultant. He will be celebrating harvest during Canadian Thanksgiving with his Canadian wife next Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!