This is the time of year when we celebrate harvest but what does harvest mean for you? Perhaps it’s the familiar hymns that we sing, or the church decorated with flowers and home-grown fruit and vegetables.
Here we live in a very rural part of the country and we see evidence all around us of the yearly cycle of ploughing, sowing, nurturing and reaping. We are aware of how closely related our lives are to the land and the farmers who work, day by day, throughout the year to ensure the harvest. Those who live in cities do not see this so clearly; harvest is represented by the food that is available in the supermarket – the colourful array of fruits and vegetables which seem to be in constant and abundant supply, whatever the season, transported across the world so we can eat our fill.
As we gather together in our churches to celebrate Harvest, to give thanks to God for all that he provides year after year, we are also conscious that there are many parts of the world where the harvest is poor or fails entirely, and people go hungry, or where people are refugees and cannot even sow and reap. In the Bible there is a story about a woman called Ruth; a woman living in a foreign place because of her loyalty to her mother-in-law, and because she chose to accept God in her life. There she encountered kindness from a landowner called Boaz, who not only allowed her to gather left over grain from his harvest fields, but also instructed his workers to deliberately leave some extra for her to gather.
We too can show kindness and generosity by providing for others from the abundance of what God gives to each of us. It may be by can supporting the local food bank, or we can give our time or some of our resources to charities that help to ensure that those who are hungry will be fed. We are called to live generously, even sacrificially, so that others too may have life. Not just at harvest time but each and every day.
What will harvest mean for you this year?