HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. —Mark 2:23
Christ Introduces the Evidential Value of the Ordinary
Harvest helps us to recapture the thought of God in the common things of nature. We do not bring what is rare into the sanctuary; we bring the common products of the fields. Our Lord’s outlook upon nature differs somewhat from that of the Old Testament. There generally (though not always) God is recognized in the stupendous. In the roaring cataract, in the thunder, in the cedar which overtopped its neighbours, the Jew saw the signature of heaven and found his testimony to Jehovah. The wonderful thing about our Lord is how He introduced another scale of values. He recognized, as none had done before Him, the evidential value of the ordinary. For Him, the sparrows chattering on the housetops, and the mustard plant, and the lilies of the field were the scattered witnesses of God and the inconspicuous sacraments of heaven. It is a great thing to see God in the miracle; it is greater to find Him in the usual. It is easier to recognize Him in an escape from death than in the recurring mercies of the day. And harvest-time, is very congenial to the mind of Christ, with its passionate insistence on the common. We do not search out rare and curious fruits for the adornment of the house of God. The sheaves, and the red berries, and the common vegetables are enough. Seeing as Jesus saw, we do not need now to limit heaven to the extraordinary. We recognize and adore God in the usual.
Harvest Awakens Us to the Faithfulness of the Creator
Again we are awakened every harvest to the faithfulness of the Creator. While the earth remains, harvest shall not fail. Often in the summer months, one wondered if there would ever be a reaping. The days were sunless, and the rain so pitiless, and then the clouds returned after the rain. Yet now, in the appointed time, the golden sheaves are in the sanctuary, and the ancient promise is fulfilled again. In the deeper life of the spirit, we have to do with a faithful Creator. One may count on constancy in life when there is such splendid constancy in nature. If God keeps trust with corn, which knows no fashioning in His image, He is not likely to break trust with His children. Our blessed Lord was greatly daring and spoke of the faith of a grain of mustard-seed. Did you ever quietly ask yourself what is the faith of a grain of mustard-seed? It is the faith, through cheerless days, when the sun is hidden and the rain is dripping, that its little flowers are to bloom and to be perfect. Unregarded by the eye of man, untended by any human skill, unsheltered from the storm, exposed to the fury of the elements, that weed keeps on keeping on, in the inborn hopefulness of heaven, and that is the faith of the grain of mustard-seed. All faith roots in the faithfulness of God. We only trust the trustworthy. One of the encouragements of harvest, to all whose faith is flickering, is its message of the faithfulness of heaven.
Harvest Reminds Us That Man Cannot Live by Bread Alone
Again we are reminded of the harvest that man cannot live by bread alone. Bread is needed if a man is to exist; more is needed if he is to live. If bread were all that man required, we should never have had the wonder of the harvest-field. Heaven would have rained bread upon the earth, as it rained manna on the wilderness. The beauty of the harvest-field, with all its golden glory in the autumn, is the silent acknowledgement of heaven that man cannot live by bread alone. So when a man makes his waterway he rules the straight line of the canal; but when God makes His waterway, He hollows it in the highland brook. And the brook wanders through the heather, and sleeps in pools and ripples on the pebbles; it is water set to beauty and to the song. No poet ever wrote on a canal, but Tennyson caught his music from the brook. Yet probably the water in the brook is the same as flows in the canal. It is the way of giving, the heavenly overplus, the recognition of spiritual cravings, which is the hallmark of God’s gifts bestowed for the cravings of the body. The body does not need the harvest-glory, nor the song and beauty of the brook. Why then does heaven give like this? I find no answer to that question save in the knowledge of the great Creator that man cannot live by bread alone.
Harvest Reminds Us How God Requires the Services of Man
Harvest too reminds us how God requires the services of man. Gifts, however freely given, are ours on the basis of copartnership. We call bread the gift of God. In such language, we are taught to pray. Science could no more set a loaf upon the table than it could set a daisy on the lea. But if in a dull fatalism, we left the giving of the loaf to God, omnipotence itself would be unequal to furnishing the staff of life. Bread needs the sower and the reaper. It needs the hands of Miller and of baker. The farmer calls for God, and God calls for the farmer. It is that copartnership, that fellowship, that sense of being labourers together, that lies deep in the joy of harvest, as it lies deep in the joy of life.