May I speak in the name of the living God………
Harvest festivals are something I remember with fondness from my childhood. I used to enjoy bringing some home produce, normally made by my Nana, into school. In retirement she discovered gardening and greenhouses. My grandfather, always bampa because as a toddler I couldn’t say grandpa, discovered a passion for hot housing tomatoes. Gooseberries and rhubarb were Nana’s thing. I haven’t inherited their ‘green fingers,’ but there is always time!
Now as I consider harvest it invokes a mixture of feelings and I must admit, just like my grandmother’s rhubarb and gooseberry crumbles I find harvest bitter-sweet. Let’s start with the sweet. I have always liked the idea of back to front meals!
Harvest of course reminds us of the beauty of creation and, God’s wonderful provision. It also encourages us to mindful of and thankful towards those who till and farm the land. And, of course in this country that brings to mind images of combine harvesters and slow moving traffic on our country lanes. But not all harvests are like ours. I have spent a lot of time in rural Uganda, and harvest there is very different.
So yes, we need to be grateful for the good provision of the land, but we also need to allow harvest to challenge us, the wealthy. Today’s epistle urges us to be content with ‘enough.’ We are encouraged to avoid the senseless hording of goods: ‘but those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evil.’
Money itself, is not evil, it can’t be, it is inanimate, possessing no character of its own, but the love of money expressed through hording of goods, is the root of not just some, but all evil. It is evil because senseless hording deprives others of their legitimate rights to share in the abundance of the created order. As Christians we must seek to avoid deprivation. We must as the gospel reminds us ‘seek first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.’
Harvest challenges us to think again about the kingdom of God and what it means to live righteously. And, this can sometimes produce, not a sweet, but a bitter taste in our mouths as we reflect on the fact that all is not as it should be in the world. Many in Uganda, for instance, have no access to fresh and clean water and, of course countless numbers are fleeing the world’s conflict zones.
The monks of Taize have a wonderful chant in which they describe the Kingdom of God: ‘the Kingdom of God is justice, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ It is a chant I listen to often at the start of my morning prayer. It is chant that both inspires and haunts me.
So yes, let’s enjoy harvest but let’s also allow it to confront us, discomfort us, and question us.
Are we content with enough or are we always striving for more?
What can we do to assist in the Divine process of bringing about justice and peace?
What resources can we share with those less well off through no fault of their own?
These are, perhaps, our Harvest questions; questions we ought to reflect on and, then answer. Amen.
Rev. Andrew Lightbown