At this time of year, in many churches up and down the land, we celebrate Harvest Festival. It’s a lovely time of the year as summer passes into autumn, and we give thanks for the fruit of the earth, which despite our problems of global warming and climate change, continues to be an amazingly fruitful planet with all the human, animal and plant life it sustains.
But how should we think about ‘Harvest’? Here is what Jesus taught: “35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9v35-38
So, what kind of harvest is God looking for? And who is going to help with the Harvest?
When thinking about a harvest, it is good to remember all that our farmers, food processors and retailers do to bring us what we need and want to eat…..we are and should be very grateful to them. Harvest time is in one sense about physical things and food, however life is not just a matter of food as the apostle Paul said, but what we produce in terms of all it means to be human in our bodies, minds and souls: “17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.”
Romans 14v17 And as Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10v10.
And so, what does it mean to live a fruitful life? It means to be fruitful in our work whatever that might be, but it also means to be fruitful in who we are as much as what we do…our character and souls…to develop and grow what most pleases to God ……which is in a harvest of righteousness, peace and joy!
But there is something else that is most important of all: to realise that God is not just looking for a good Harvest from ourselves (the fruit we show in our own lives) but that God is looking for how we bring a harvest in others even at a cost to ourselves….how we might help bring other people into God’s kingdom and to help them be fruitful.
In summary, at Harvest time is good to be thinking about how we can be fruitful, but most of all how we can be workers in bringing in the harvest and fruit of others: growing righteousness by helping people to follow Jesus; growing peace by helping people to love others; and growing joy by helping people to discover their God given purpose in life.
So, that is the widest meaning of Harvest, and if you would like to celebrate Harvest Festival this year with us (and find out more about how to be a worker for God in his harvest field) you would be welcome to join us for one of our Harvest services on 8th October – 9:30am at St Peter’s at 9:30am or 11am at Blessed Mary.
We look forward to seeing you if you can come along.
With my prayers for October
Revd James – Rector St Peter’s, Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary, Upham
20th September 2023