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'For Everything There Is A Season'
Harvest




'For Everything There Is A Season'




Cuthbert cross

Harvest and Giving Thanks to God 


Read : St Matthew 9: 35-38; St Matthew 14: 14-20 (NIV) 


Harvest is a time when we reflect on and celebrate God's goodness to us, giving thanks for His plentiful provision and His bountiful blessings. When we see the wonderful colours of autumn on the trees; the beauty of flowers and fruit in season, the fields ripe with corn, the sun glinting and gleaming on swaying golden grain, we are reminded of the greatness of our Creator God. As we think of the wonder of creation, we are also reminded of our responsibility to care for all of God's creation and to share our resources with others.  

We give thanks for every good gift that comes from God, for our daily bread, the sun and the rain, the plants which mature in autumn and nourish us all year and for the harvest of land and sea. We have so much to be thankful for and yet so often we take these things for granted. God supplies our every need and yet so often we misuse the resources we are given. We waste so much food while others across the world are starving, struggling to find fresh water and food to nourish their bodies. We regularly pray to God saying, 'give us this day our daily bread,' yet do we consider the millions of people who are denied even that because of greed of some others!?  

Our God is a God of love and compassion who wants us to share all we have with others so all may be fed. We see our Lord's compassion shown in both of the passage above, as He showed compassion to the crowds. He saw and met the needs of the people. 

In the story of the loaves and the fishes from Matthew chapter 14 (above), we see two different reactions to human need. When the disciples saw how late it was, and how tired and hungry the crowd were, they said, 'send them away so that they can find something to eat.' In effect they said, 'These people are tired and hungry. Get rid of them and let someone else worry about them.' But Jesus said, 'You give them something to eat.' In effect Jesus said, 'These people are tired and hungry. We must do something about it.'  

There are always people who are quite aware that others are in need, but who wish to push the responsibility for doing something about it on to someone else, and there are always people who when they see someone up against it feel compelled to do something about it themselves. There are those who say, 'let others worry' and there are those who say, 'I must worry about my brother or sister's need.'  

Jesus shows compassion to all and we too are called to cultivate compassion in our hearts and to see the needs of people through Christ's eyes and to meet those needs in love.  

The story of the loaves and the fishes also shows two reactions to human resources. The disciples thought that anything that they had would be too small and of no use in feeding the large crowd so they thought it wasn't even worthwhile trying. They only had 5 loaves and 2 fish. These were not loaves which we are familiar with but would have been like small rolls and the fish would have been small salt fish the size of sardines. It didn't seem much but Jesus took it and worked wonders with it.  

In the hands of Jesus, little is always much. We may think we have little of talent or substance to give to Jesus but that is no reason for a hopeless pessimism such as the disciples had. We need to be willing to give our all to God, to trust that with Him all things are possible, that He can turn our smallest of offerings given in faith into immeasurably more. If we truly put ourselves into the hands of Jesus Christ, there is no telling what he can do with us and through us, so let us be willing to share what little we have and be open to allow God to use our gifts for His glory.  

In the passage from Mathew chapter 9 (above), we also see Jesus showing compassion on the people, meeting their needs and feeding their souls with the message of the gospel. Our need for daily bread is not just a physical need but also a spiritual need. Our spiritual lives are a bit like the farmer's field. Sometimes it is healthy and growing and at other times it is flattened by circumstances, in desperate need of spiritual nourishment.  

We need to be strengthened and sustained by God's goodness, His spiritual food, His Living Word of truth, His unfailing love and everlasting peace. 

As Disciples of Christ we also have a responsibility to share the gospel message with others, to sow the seeds of love and be willing to gather and reap the harvest, to turn our compassion into loving action. Jesus tells his disciples how to fulfil their task, telling them there is a large harvest to be gained and so they must first pray to God for more workers to help them gather in the harvest. This image of the harvest highlights the urgency of their task. As any farmer will know, when the harvest is ready, you need to get it in quickly. If you miss your chance, the crop could be ruined. So Jesus is saying to them, 'look, this is urgent, you've got a task to do, so there is no time for messing around, just go and get on with it. The Kingdom of God is near now, so now is the time to respond.'  

The task for disciples is clear but it is still a difficult mission and this remains the mission of the Church today, we are the people that Christ is sending out, like lambs among wolves to share the peace of Christ, to eat and drink with people, to respond in mercy to sickness and brokenness, and to talk about the nearness of God and of God's reign in the world. That is Christ's commission to the whole Church. As it says in Matthew chapter 28, 'Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.'  

So are we willing to respond to Christ's calling and fulfil His mission and go wherever He may lead us? Jesus calls us not only to come to Him, but also to go for Him. Being a Christian includes being sent into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' 

There is a plentiful harvest as many people are seeking and searching for meaning to life but there are still too few workers willing to respond to Christ's call, to be messengers of God's love. Where are the messengers today? This call to mission is not just for ministers or elders but for each one of us - the workers are all of us and we all have a task to do. We may feel inadequate, wondering what difference our small part may play but to God there are no small parts - all are necessary. It has been said that anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never been in bed with a mosquito! 

As Christ's Church, we all have an important part to play in fulfilling His mission. We may not see the full significance of our little part of it but God sees the bigger picture and so we should put our trust in Him and go in His strength. 

Let us put our faith and hope in the Lord of the harvest, let us be willing to work for Him, sowing His seeds of love and compassion amongst all those we meet so sharing the gospel by the way we live our lives both in words and actions, by being Christ like and living by kingdom values. Let us truly be thankful for all that God gives us and be willing to allow Him to use our little offerings to do big things in this community and beyond. Wherever God leads us, may we be willing to not only witness for Him but also to work for Him so giving Him glory and praise in everything.  


Prayer 

Lord of our harvest, we thank you for the wonder of your creation, for your great goodness to us in giving such plentiful provision and bountiful blessings. Lord, you have made us one with this earth, to tend it and to bring forth fruit. Help us to respect and cherish all that has life from you and to share in the labour of all creation so giving you all glory and praise. Lord, your harvest is a harvest of love, love sown in the hearts of people, love that spreads out like branches of a great tree covering all who seek its shelter; love that inspires and recreates; love that is planted in the weak and the weary, the sick and the dying. The harvest of your love is the life that reaches through the weeds of sin and death to the sunlight of resurrection. Lord, nurture our days with your love, water our souls with the dew of forgiveness, that the harvest of our lives may be your joy through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Iona Pringle, 2017


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