Scripture for Harvest Thanksgiving:
Deuteronomy 26.1–11; Psalm 100; Philippians 4.4–9; John 6.25–35
So the gospel is about bread … which reminds me of a song (of course!). Trying to keep trains of thought from colliding isn’t always successful. Bread, and harvest and a wedding, all falling close together – it all points to the words of a song: “Is there someone you know, you’re loving them so, but taking them all for granted? You may lose them one day …” [From “Everything I Own,” by Bread in 1972, written by David Gates.]
Harvest is a time to remind ourselves not to take things for granted. Weddings are occasions to remember not to take our partners for granted. Along the way, we might consider this: what would happen if we were to treat what we have not as if it were owned, but as if it were lent to us?
The earth – lent to us by God, borrowed from future generations – were we not all raised to treat what is not ours with an extra degree of care? What about time? Or life itself? These have been lent to us, so shouldn’t we treat them with due respect? And our fellow human beings, particularly the ones we especially love: treating them as though they have been lent to us by God might make us just a little more careful about the way in which we discharge our promises – and not take them for granted.
This leads to the way in which we sow seeds and reap harvests in the relationships of our lives. It is in fact very easy to forget that as we pass through life, we are constantly sowing seeds of one sort or another. Do we think about what we sow, or where we sow it, or how it is tended once sown? Fortunately for us, the owner of this garden of life in which we sow as tenants is not an absentee landlord, is inclined to keep an eye on things, and often gives things a helping hand. Which means that we reap more than we deserve.
The greatest ‘helping hand’ is of course given – or lent – to us in the form of Jesus. He is the one who feeds people and then speaks about the way in which they truly need to be fed – but his audience has waning attention, finds his teaching too difficult, and wanders away in boredom. Let’s not follow that path!
Harvest challenges us to ponder where we need to be thankful, to repent from taking for granted, to acknowledge that we are borrowers, not owners, of life and love, and to accept that we have a spiritual hunger that needs to be fed.
Let’s not take any of it for granted. We may lose it one day.