As I write this message we are about to celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving. The tradition
of giving thanks to God for the produce of the land has its roots in the first books of the
Old Testament. In Exodus 22:29 and 23:16 the Israelites were called upon to celebrate
the first fruits of their crops and to dedicate them to God.
Not all of the harvest was to be reaped by the farmers. Some was to be left in the fields
for the poor (Lev. 19:9), reflecting the heart of God for those who have nothing.
The practice of celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving was taken up by churches and
became quite popular from the mid-19th century. The idea behind it is that we give
thanks not just for food from the land, but for all of God’s abundant blessing to us.
As a consequence we should practice generosity toward the needy.
The concept of the harvest would later take on a metaphorical meaning, referring not
to the physical, but to a spiritual harvest (2 Cor. 9:10). Finally, the harvest, in the words
of Jesus, came to refer to the last judgment. This is where the weeds are separated from
the good grain, each finding their eternal destination. (Matthew 13:30).
The Lord has given us good things, which we enjoy daily. He has also given us
something beyond measure: eternal life, as we trust in Jesus. We can be confident that
we will one day be brought ‘into his barn’as we are found in him.