Rallies and formal debates, proroguement and recess, lies and truth, bullying and fair play – these all dominate any news feed I listen to from the ‘off-shore island’ I call home. Reading headline opinions of our current discourse and aggressive attacks on social media, I fear what’s on the horizon.
It seems to be the way with Septembers throughout history – only the ebb and flow was not so much political climes as the changing seasons, and the furrows not green parliamentary benches but open fields!
Going back to my roots in India, I realise harvest celebrations were powerful because they meant the difference between life and death in a way they don’t for those who hanker after a nostalgic trug.
Those harvest months and fields from yesteryear also represented the unknown: the hard to understand, the mysterious and the threatening. As people worked the earth to get their daily bread, they attempted to understand and give meaning to their lives, making sense of suffering and joy.
A tale of two realities
While a No-Deal Brexit dominates the international political landscape, a ‘Good-Deal Basket’ presides over the seasonal one – at least in churches. We have little sense of what our forbears endured; for us, supermarket shelves will remain stacked no matter the weather. For our ancestors, there was the annual festival celebrating a triumph of life over death – as hard labour bore abundance and fed people through harsh winters. It’s harvest time!
As I chomp my way through the most delicious corn on the cob or sweetest beetroot (procured at a supermarket), I am struck by the number of people who grow their food on balconies and in kolonihaver, or forage in the woods.
The fertility of the land and the vagaries of the weather are the difference between a full belly and a full graveyard. No wonder there was an exuberance when they offered the first fruits of harvest to God – it is a reflection of the creator, the reward of physical labour and the rendering of thanks for life’s abundance.
Reaping the fruits
Harvests in big cities like Copenhagen may be more contained, but they need be no less meaningful – we need to celebrate fruitfulness just as much as our ancestors, because even here we are dependent on the farmer or fisherman afar.
While the signs of the harvest may not resonate as much as those in other lands or times, they are as profound at helping us remember that we need to live in greater harmony with the earth, be more generous in our giving, and be more active in our quest for justice for those who go hungry.
In the coming weeks, why not take a moment to remember the harvest sown in and around us in fields and seas, in faithful working lives, and in the care of neighbours? We can sow the seeds of friendship across political divides and plant justice and care in difficult terrain, whilst reaping reconciliation in a world of haves and have-nots.
Remember that we do not make the harvest happen – it is God who gives the growth. So come and celebrate the harvest at St Alban’s Church on the weekend of September 27-29 with a concert on Friday at 16:00 and a celebratory service on Sunday at 10:30.
People value family, friendships, community, country and a reasonable hope for a better future – anchored in a way of life that involves a sense of sacrifice and contribution to the common good. It is the hope of a plentiful harvest in September no matter what October holds!