Celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving
Readings for this Sunday: Joel 2:21-27; Psalm 126; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Matthew 6:25-33
Jesus told his followers to “Consider the lilies of the field …” Which is a good thing to do in terms of their life cycle.
One aspect of lilies is that they only spend a part of their life in bloom. They disappear into rather ugly, tuberous roots while they regenerate. Our lives can be similar: we need time to regenerate, as well as to bloom; this can be a time to appreciate the blooming of others. Either way, there are gifts that come to fruition that merit appreciation and thankfulness.
Harvest Thanksgiving is a particular time for being thankful for the gifts that we receive and an occasion to celebrate our thankfulness together in community.
We inherit through Christianity and its Jewish roots an awareness of our shared responsibility for stewardship of this created earth and its occupants. In giving thanks, especially expressing appreciation for the harvest that sustains our lives, we carry a sense of stewardship. To exercise this, it is important to be aware of our connection to the natural world, and our dependence upon it.
This day is also the day of Saint Francis, whose life was a testimony to the connection between the created order and our spiritual lives, immersed in a physical existence.
The readings for today draw this together: Joel, reminding agrarian people of Israel to be thankful for God’s abundance; the letter to Timothy reminding us to uplift all aspects of life in thanksgiving, and not to seek to prosper at the expense of others; the gospel of Matthew recording Jesus’ admonition to be thankful for God’s spiritual nourishment.
Although we receive varying gifts that, like lilies, come to bloom and fruition at different times, we can blend our differences to make a difference in the world. Prophetic voices throughout the ages remind us that we hold all of this in trust, for common well-being.
The late Bishop, Oscar Romero, said, “Lord God, we ask you to forgive us our sins, to enlighten our imagination, so that we can share more equally the gifts you have left for all your children, so that creation may join us in praising your name.” And, in the words of a Latin American grace: “O God, to those who have hunger give bread, and to those who have bread give the hunger for justice.”
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