Harvest Festivals

Dr Andrew Wright

Harvests are associated with the autumn, but there are a series of harvests from June to October as hay, potatoes, other vegetables, barley, oats and fruits are harvested. When the harvest was completed then it was the time for ‘Harvest Home’. Recognising that the year’s crops were now ‘in the barn’, this was when a parish would gather to give thanks to God for his provision of food for the next year. As the world became mechanised we began to lose the direct link between food and harvest. This was made worse by the migration of families to towns where mills and factories were.

But the tradition of celebrating God’s provision of food through the seasons continued to be part of the Christian year. Today for many of us our harvest is not food but the product of our job….or indeed school and college. We study at school and learn the basics, then we move on to learn languages, science, technical studies, together with life skills. Our first harvest is GCSE’s, followed in the succeeding years with B.Tech. qualifications, professional exams, diplomas, degrees, and postgraduate qualifications. When we start work we may see our work efforts in a physical product, a car part, a set of accounts, or a sale completed and paid for by the customer. Or the product of our work may be intangible—a child in the class we teach learns to read, a client adjusts their anti-social behaviour for the better. Or as a parent we see our children take responsibility for their own life in sequential steps over the years.

As Christians we should be in the same position as the farmer, we work at what we do, but we recognise that God ‘gives the increase’. God’s care for us provides the resources we use in our job. Do we, like our ancestors, pause to give thanks for what God helps us achieve? My grandfather always gave the first week of a pay rise to the church as an act of thanksgiving. He would not make an issue of this, and it was just his way of recognising God’s provision. How could you acknowledge God’s provision for you and your family as the year draws to a close?

Dr. Andrew Wright

Former Chair of JRI