Where I live, it’s easy to remember the cycles of nature and the joyous, bountiful season of harvest. Mile after country mile in Adams County, Pennsylvania, brings you past apple orchards where the fruit, sometimes clustered like grapes, pulls the branches of the trees way down low, so the leaves sweep the ground.
The harvest is good. We are especially grateful in our parts because we know so many other farmers and fruit growers suffered drought, a bleak reminder that fair weather is promised to no one — not farmers or orchard growers, certainly, but neither to cooks, clerks, welders, executives, pastors or salespeople.
And enduring this long economic recession certainly seems like a drought for many. Most of us feel grateful enough just to have a job, sufficient cash flow to pay the bills and a little something for a rainy day.
In times like this, mere stability is a plentiful harvest, indeed. So this autumn celebrate the harvest. Thank God for the blessings, the fruits of all our labors.
Plan a worship service around the theme of harvest. Decorate the sanctuary with symbols of harvest — corn shocks, pumpkins, apples, gourds, Indian corn and the like. Thank God for the natural processes of soil, rain, sun and seeds that produce the fruits of the earth.
But also thank God for the gifts of body, mind and spirit that enable us to do our work, whatever it is, that gives us the harvest known as making a living.
Thank God for the gifts of love, family and friends that gives us the harvest of emotional stability and a network of people who are there for us.
Thank God for our church and the pastors, Sunday school teachers, sextons, secretaries, committee members and number crunchers that help us reap a harvest of spiritual fruit.
In other words, plan a harvest celebration, but make it so much more than pumpkins and squash.
Here are some resources to get you going:
Harvest thanksgiving — traditional and contemporary liturgy, on Faith & Worship.
Liturgy for Harvest, from the United Society, an Anglican group based in the UK.
Harvest Festival Liturgy, from Green Christian, based in the UK.
Services for the Agricultural Year, from the Church of England.
Harvesting the World, from the Church of Scotland.
(Rob Blezard photo of Adams County apples, 2012)