“Consider the lilies of the field …” Our culture apparently seeks to outdo the lilies and Solomon’s finery, because we buy a vast amount of clothing, of which much is never worn. In Britain, 235M items of clothing went to landfill in the spring of 2017 alone.
Jesus was probably not specifically contemplating the 21st century clothing market when he uttered his words (yet it’s remarkable how durable his teaching has been!), but rather challenging his followers to think about where they placed their faith – in their ability to take care of themselves, or in God’s ability to take care of them.
Harvest Thanksgiving encourages us to reflect especially upon the ways in which God nurtures us through the abundant provisions in creation. We live in a world with enough for the needs of all – if not for the greed of a few – but there does seem to be a distribution problem.
Nevertheless, this is an occasion to give thanks to God for the harvest that has been reaped. What is our harvest? Even in Menorca, where we live closer to agricultural roots, we are isolated from the production of the harvest of the land, and we do not participate personally in reaping it.
However, there is an even more important harvest: community – and collective living. This has its roots in our families, but that is only a part of the story. The word ‘family’ is not used in the Bible, but rather the word ‘household,’ to describe something that encompasses a small, interdependent community.
The households of Jesus’ time involved their members in certain obligations to care for each other from the cradle to the grave – a harvest of care and compassion sown by each generation for successive generations to reap.
In the language of the time of Jesus, to say ‘thank you’ in this way was something only done to someone superior – a way of indicating that one could not repay them adequately. Such a spirit of thankful humility would bless our own culture’s thanksgivings.
We have to think seriously about where the thanks are to be directed: for our own efforts in working to produce whatever harvest we believe we have reaped, or for the one who gives us the resources and the talents to do so.
Early in the story of the people of Israel, God made a covenant with Abraham:
“I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing …”
At this time of Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for the harvest, in its broadest sense; let’s be thankful for the communities in which we live and love and are loved; and let’s take our blessings, and in the spirit of the Abrahamic blessing, find a way to make them be blessings for others – collectively.