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What Can Harvest Teach Us About Living Generously?

By Craig Borlase | 14 September 2016

What can harvest teach us about generosity?

Your back’s a little stiff today? Probably due to the fact that last night you were out in the fields, scything down corn until the small hours. But you’ll be back out there again at first light tomorrow, won’t you? And by the time Sunday comes around you’ll be hand delivering a perfectly formed corn dolly and a couple of premium quality sheaves to your grateful vicar.


Of course you won’t.


These days, if you’ve got pavement outside your house, street lights turning the night orange and a decent whack of broadband coming through the pipes, you’re probably fairly oblivious to what’s going on among the farmers and the fields.


Apart from if you go to a certain type of church or if you’ve got kids at a certain type of primary school. If that’s you, then you’ll know full well that we’re fast approaching Harvest Festival: the time of year when we reach into the darkest corners of our kitchen cupboards in the hope of finding something reasonable to give away. 


For some of us, those piles of tinned frankfurters, tinned beans and tinned peaches that rise in the assembly halls and churches look less like a celebration of the bounty of the earth and more like a celebration of the art of hoarding ahead of a Nuclear Winter. 


And yet, Harvest Festival is not an anachronism of limited value. In these days of overwhelming consumer choice and readily available credit, there’s a good chance that Harvest has something significant to teach us all.


To understand Harvest we’ve got to go back a little further than the days of ruddy-cheeked English farmers chewing corn and wearing white smocks. We need to return to the original harvest festivals—the ones in the Old Testament—the very ones that are still celebrated in Jewish homes and synagogues today. Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of the Tabernacles are linked in turn to the harvests of barley, wheat and of the fruit from trees and vines.


In fact, it’s not just Jewish families who have maintained the link between food production and faith. In the US, November’s Thanksgiving holiday encourages people to pause, reunite as families and express their gratitude for all they have.


At the heart of every celebration of harvest around the world, there’s a core element of thanksgiving. For some of us, giving thanks doesn’t necessarily come all that easy. While we might be able to get our heads around the view of God as Creator, the notion of Him as Sustainer can, for some at least, be a little trickier to accept. A lifetime of being taught the value of self-sufficiency and independence can do that to you.


And yet God lavishes upon us evidence of His continued love and care. As you read these words every breath that you take is a reminder of that fact. Every exhalation is a leap of faith.


And every pay packet is a harvest.


In this season of tinned goods and ancient arts from a time gone by, perhaps we don’t have to feel removed from it all. Perhaps if we choose to stop, take stock, look about us and count the ways in which God sustains us, we will find ourselves better able to give thanks. 


And then what? Could there really be a better way to respond than by acting generously? We have been given so much. How can we not give back in return?

Read more like this:

10 generous things to do with the kids this half term

The 10 Weirdest Harvest Foodbank Offerings

Urban harvest



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