The Giving Season
Harvest is a time when nature is in ‘giving mode’. Having spent the previous seasons hibernating, germinating, and growing, plants have moved into a phase of producing an astonishing variety of fruit and seeds. Having taken in water, nutrients and sunshine, and reached the peak of maturity, we are treated to a dazzling display of the bounty of nature. Having spent the previous part of the year in receptive mode, the harvest season is all about the self-giving of nature.
The Bible uses the picture of fruitfulness to describe what it is to be a fully-developed human. Mature character is described in Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians as displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, humility, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (cf Gal 5:22-23). This bountiful harvest of personal qualities is described as the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, the inevitable consequence in season of a life blessed and watered by God. It is what is to be expected in “those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Gal 5:24) and who, on a daily basis, become more and more like their Master.
It is traditional at harvest time to give thanks to God for his provision of food, for answering our prayer to “Give us this day our daily bread”. It is also traditional to share that bounty with those in need. In both our churches during our harvest celebrations, non-perishable items are collected and given to Didcot Emergency Food Bank, and we raise money for Tearfund who work with those living in poverty in other parts of the world. It seems appropriate to join with nature’s pattern of moving from a season of receiving to a season of giving.
The life-giving harvest is a beautiful illustration of the giving heart of God, who provides “daily bread” not just for our physical needs but also for our spiritual needs. ’All good gifts around use are sent from heaven above’. Without God’s good gifts humans would perish.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton