Harvest Off The Farm
2 Corinthians 9:6–12
6The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 9As it is written,
"He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever."
10He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.
It used to be that most of us lived in rural settings and way back, most of us lived on farms. We lived closer to the land and because of that, lived closer to the culture of the Bible. Scripture frequently connects our relationship with God to agricultural practices. God is the landowner, Israel is God’s vineyard; God desires plentiful harvest, etc.
Thanksgiving Day is connected to an iconic meal between the pilgrims and the Native Americans and focuses on food and family, and occasionally faith; all things that sustain and nourish us and for which we give thanks.
While actual farmers do harvest some crops at this time of year, most of us hardly notice nor do we worry about it. As long as the local Piggly Wiggly or Publix has most of what’s on our shopping list, we’re happy. When I lived in Chicago, I actually had to worry about whether I could get what I needed for my Thanksgiving meal. There I shopped at the local Jewel grocery store in a dense neighborhood. Thanksgiving is a common American holiday, so all of us (six million people in the metro Chicago area) no matter our ethnic background or religion were all shopping for turkeys and cranberries. I learned that if I went to the store too close to Thanksgiving they would be totally sold out. I learned how quickly things could become scarce. In many, too many, parts of the world, there is no harvest, only scarcity.
Thanksgiving provides us with an opportunity to gather together in our abundance and give thanks that we have what we have. Thanksgiving provides us with an opportunity to be generous out of that abundance as St. Paul calls us to be in the above passage. Thanksgiving provides us with a challenge as we pretend to still be a people who are dependent on seasons and crop productivity.
While most of us have food aplenty every day and have not in any way saved up for this super-meal, Thanksgiving for modern families brings a different kind of refreshment. What many of us appreciate about the holiday is that it is a feast day of family, friends, and time. We don’t gather sheaves of wheat, we gather our scattered family and friends together and we, who are often running in different directions and working 12 hour days, get this day to actually cook a meal together and hang out with each other.
Unhurried time with each other is our great thanksgiving. It’s not the abundant food for us anymore, it’s the abundant people and the generous stretch of time. The thing that doesn’t change is that whatever abundance we cherish this week, our faith challenges us to recall that all is a gift from God. How do we turn these abundant gifts into blessings by sharing them with others? When we’re thankful for something, grateful to have plenty of something, the Bible calls us to act on that thanksgiving by sharing the things we’re so grateful for.
So, count your blessings this week and then take the next step in faith and ponder how you can really show your gratitude by sharing all these blessings with your neighbor.
Consider sharing this blessing over Thanksgiving dinner written by liturgist Gail Ramshaw:
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest,
and let these gifts to us be blest.
Blessed be God, who is our Bread.
May all the world be clothed and fed.
I thank God for you, dear devotional reader, and hope you’ll have a thankful day on Thursday surrounded by all good gifts!