It seems a bit late to be talking up Harvest Festivals, but there seems always more to be explored. One way of exploring further is to talk about the harvest of our commerce and industry, but I would like to stick with our traditional agricultural harvest.
Even if you are a Townie you will be more thoughtful about your way of life if you understand something of the contribution farmers make to human well-being. You will be encouraged to think more about what you eat, and appreciate the effort that goes into food production. You will appreciate better that town and country are interdependent, and that more generally individuals and communities depend on each other. Given that these days our food comes from all over the world, you will be reminded of our international interdependence, and issues to do with FairTrade. Harvest is also a lesson in vulnerability, as the success of the harvest is dependent on the weather and other factors, even if human ingenuity mitigates the worst effects. The fact that harvest produce goes to those who are most in need in our local communities is a reminder of our social obligations.
There is great beauty in a church decorated for Harvest, reminding us of the lilies which neither toil or spin, but are so beautiful that “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27), and demonstrating the beauty of nature generally. Big thanks, by the way, to those who made our church look so attractive.
As you read this, you may be thinking of another kind of Harvest: the Harvest of Souls. As a favourite harvest hymn puts it: “For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take his harvest home” and that at that time will “all be safely gathered in, free from sorrow, free from sin”. Traditionally the Church thinks of this at the time of All Souls (2 November each year). This Harvest too is something to celebrate, even if for now, to quote another hymn, “other helpers fail, and comforts flee” and “change and decay in all around I see”.