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Harvest Home

In the USA, the first Monday in September is a public holiday known as Labor Day. It’s the unofficial end of summer, too.

Conversely, our own early May bank holiday is an unofficial start to summer, though it is similar in that it also marks International Workers Day – not that we ever seem to talk about that!

Holidays to mark the changing seasons typically have origins much further back in human history. In rural Britain, May Day celebrations were originally associated with the fertility of spring. By September, of course, celebrations would be all about the harvest and getting ready for the coming darker days.

In church, we give thanks to God for the harvest. Our hymns typically reflect gratitude, joy and perhaps even relief that the harvest has been ‘safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.’

If we believe in a Creator God, it’s a natural response.

Why would we not be thankful that ‘God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied’? It seems the very least we can do.

Even though we live in a rich country with the means to make sure that serious food shortages do not affect us, we all know that the price (and sometimes the availability) of food has been seriously impacted by recent events: war, climate change, Brexit, Covid…they’ve all made their mark.

We haven’t always been able to buy everything we want in the local supermarket, and some can no longer continue to afford enough to eat. Imagine the plight of those in poorer countries – especially those where their own harvests have been directly affected by drought, flooding or war. All the more reason for us to give thanks and count our blessings!

But to return to Labor Day…

I caught sight of a post on social media around that time. One of those random posts that show up because you ‘liked’ a photograph somewhere else. But this one has stayed with me. The writer (an American) was using Labor Day as an opportunity to give thanks to God for the harvest – and particularly for those who had made it happen. Those who had ploughed the fields, taken care of the livestock, nurtured the crops, made the decisions and made sure that they acted in time to bring the harvest home.

We could add in those who work beyond the fields to package and process the food we conveniently buy at the supermarket. Those who pick the fruit, drive the trucks, mill the grain, keep the machinery running…

It is truly humbling when we stop to consider how much labour goes into ensuring that ‘our wants (can) be supplied’.

When we celebrate the harvest, we need to ensure that we give thanks to God for calling and sustaining those who make it happen – often underpaid and undervalued, often working long and unsociable hours, often working in conditions that most of us would prefer to avoid.

As we continue to pray for a spiritual ‘harvest’ - and for the workers to bring it in (Matthew 9 v 38) – let’s also take a moment to pray for all those ( of all faiths or none) who play a part in ensuring a bountiful physical harvest.


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