Long ago in a town far far away….. (Okay, it was Immingham and I was 5 years old) I was selected by the headmaster of the school to go with him and a child from the junior’s to deliver harvest produce to the elderly. I like to think he chose me because I looked cute in my grey school shorts. He probably chose me because I wasn’t quick enough to avoid him! I can vividly remember handing over, what seemed to me, giant cauliflowers and marrows to elderly folk who had a bewildered expression on their faces. I didn’t realise it then but, they were probably thinking they couldn’t refuse this gift but how many days would they be eating it?
Today, we take food for granted. We wander into our 24 hour supermarkets, we select produce (whether in season or out) from all over the world. As soon as the shelves are empty, they are re-stocked and we probably don’t give it a second thought.
We celebrated our Harvest Festival in Clacton today, and I suppose I faced that same old question, what is the point? We are gradually losing touch with the agricultural rhythms of our predecessors, so what is the point of this annual ritual, singing the old favourites “Come ye thankful people come” and “we plough the fields and scatter”.
My reflections led me to the point where I am convinced now, more than ever, that to celebrate Harvest Festival is probably more important than ever.
Why? (I hear you ask). Well, in this country, it seems more people need the facilities of Food Banks. They are not “lazy” or “scroungers”, one set of statistics I saw suggests that the majority of Food Bank users are working on low wages. The Bible teaches us to “love our neighbour”.
Harvest also reminds us that in the wider world there are many who do not have sufficient to eat or clean water to drink. I find it a scandal that in our world in the 21st century, where we have resources to spare that there are children dying from preventable diseases. The prophet Amos said;
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
(Amos 5 vs. 24)
We need voices like Amos today, challenging world leaders to get their act together!
Finally, harvest reminds me that, ultimately, this world is not mine, or yours, it belongs to God and we are the stewards of it. The Psalmist says;
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
(Psalm 24 vs. 1)
We are more aware than ever of our environment and environmental needs. But, more needs to be done to protect the earth for future generations and it’s up to us to do what we can and urge the world leaders to do more.