It’s harvest time again! Yes, even for me, as vicar of two of the most urban parishes in England. One parish celebrated harvest last Sunday, the other does so this coming Sunday and, in between, I’ve had three harvest assemblies in the local school, and there’s still a Messy Church harvest to come a week from now.
We’re in an environment where the only food grown is on community allotments or in gardening projects or private gardens (with many houses having only the smallest of Victorian back yards), and could never come close to feeding the huge and growing community in this corner of the big city. So, what kind of a celebration is harvest for us, when we’re mostly so far removed from any real agricultural involvement?
During our service, we will be listening to several readings from the Bible:
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land . . . a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing . . . You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.
Deuteronomy 8:7-10 (NRSV, adapted)
“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” . . . Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”.
John 6: 33-35 (NRSV, adapted)
As I will say to the congregation, I think our urban harvest celebration is about two things: firstly, it’s about giving thanks for all that we have and are grateful for, not only, but particularly, our food. And, secondly, it’s about sharing food with those in need. As Christians gathered for Sunday worship, we will of course be giving thanks to God, but thankfulness is hardly ours exclusively – it’s only human to be thankful for the good things in life and for having all, and sometimes, more than we need. And neither is giving from our excess to those in greater poverty or need something that only happens in a faith community. Our food donations are being given to support the work of two local Christian charities – a brand new Trussell Trust Foodbank in the neighbouring community and Boaz Trust, a charity supporting destitute asylum seekers in our city. I find it desperately sad knowing that there are so many hungry people right here on our doorstep in a big Western European city like this one.
Care to join us in our annual celebration of all that we have and all that we can share? Christian or not, wherever you are right now, there’s almost always something big or small to be grateful for if we pause and think back over the past week, the past month or even the past year. And there are needs all around us too – we don’t usually have to look very far. Do we have a surplus to share? Is there something we can do to help others in need? Happy Harvest!
The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere him.
Psalm 67:6-7 (NRSV)