Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.” Psalm 65:13
One of the uses of the harvest festival is to awaken us to things we take for granted. We are always in danger of taking things for granted, especially in organized communities. The desert traveler can never take his water for granted, he has to shape his route to reach the wells. But in the city, where we have water supplied to every house, such a thing causes us no concern at all. That is especially true of daily bread. We just take it for granted. It has been bought at the baker’s or the grocer’s, and beyond that our vision seldom goes. And then comes the harvest festival, and beyond our city shops, we see the golden mystery of harvest. We are awakened; we are shaken out of our ruts–and do you know what someone has said about these ruts? He has said that the rut only differs from the grave in that the latter is a little deeper. We are touched with the wonder of the commonplace–we feel the glory that invests the ordinary.
It is this, too, that makes it preeminently a Christian festival, for one of the beautiful things about our Lord was that He never took usual things for granted. The Pharisees were always doing that. They took the lilies of the field for granted. They took it for granted that if a woman was caught in sin, the God-appointed conduct was to stone her. And then came our Lord, with that dear heart of His, and He did not see just the glory of the rare thing; He saw the glory of the familiar thing–the sparrow and the mustard seed, and the woman who was a sinner on the streets.
It is very comforting to bear in mind that He never takes you for granted either. Other people are doing that continually: they have you classified and docketed in pigeon-holes. But to Him, you are always wonderful though you are only a typist in an office and nobody would ever call you clever. Filled with the wonder and potential of the commonplace, that was the vision of the Saviour, and it is to that that we are summoned by the recurrence of the harvest thanksgiving.
Another benefit of the harvest festival is to impress on us our mutual dependence. It is a call to halt a moment and reflect how we are all bound together with one another. The priceless secret of cooperation is God’s secret of survival. The individual needs everybody, and everybody needs the individual.
Now at every harvest festival, how vividly is that thought brought before us! It preaches, with a kind of silent eloquence, the interdependence of man. Those sheaves of corn that stand within the sanctuary–who ploughed the fields for them? Who in the bleak morning sowed the seed, that sower and reaper might rejoice together? There are unknown plowmen and harvesters and millers and bakers whose names are never heard behind that loaf of bread on the table. Was that why the Master chose the bread to be the Symbol of His dying love? He might have chosen one of the flowers which charmed Him and which He has bidden us consider. But, choosing bread, He chose the staff of life, and that life wasn’t one of isolation, but of a rich cooperating brotherhood. We are always in danger of forgetting that when we look at the bread on our table. And then the church comes with her harvest festival and says, “This do in remembrance,” and we feel the interdependence of humanity and the fact that in back of everything the shops supply us with, stands the Creator, and on Him we utterly depend.