Thursday, November 22, 2012

Musings On Gratitude, Harvesting and Such

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:36-38)

On Thanksgiving Day many of us gather with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks, Today I am mindful of those who don't have a turkey to roast, who don't have family near them, who don't even have a roof over their heads. In a land of plenty it is so terribly easy to forget that for the rest of the world, to borrow the silly rhetoric of the disaffected spoiled youth of America, we are the 1%. Still we often seem bitter and ungrateful compared to an orphan in Haiti who is delighted with the simplest pleasure. We look around at the almost obscene plenty we have, give an often begrudging thanks today and then wait with eager anticipation for the opportunity to to buy even more stuff tomorrow.

Enough of the grumpiness, I have so much to be thankful for!

As always but ever in need of repeating is our thanks above all to God Almighty for sending His Son who died and rose again for my sins. If I had this blessing and no other it would be eternally more than enough, a continually flowing fountain of blessings without measure or end.

I am thankful for how God has challenged and changed me, often painfully and likewise often at some cost to my pride. I can see that He is showing me things, things that are crucial to understanding the Kingdom of God but that I have missed for so many years.

We are thankful this year for a clean scan for my wife meaning no additional radiation! A completely unexpected blessing, those are often the best kind. When we heard we were mostly skeptical but it was great news and we will rejoice in it!

We are thankful that God has placed us here where we have met so many wonderful people and have so many opportunities to serve our neighbors and minister to those in need. We feel more at home here than really anywhere I can remember, close to family and making more and more new friends. It has been a great blessing for us indeed.

Something that is largely lost on Thanksgiving is the timing of the holiday at the culmination of the harvesting season, a giving of thanks for the bounty of the table. One of the things we love about where we live presently is the omnipresent agricultural season changes. The harvest comes in and we give thanks to the one who makes the harvest happen, the one who sends the rain and made the soil and commands the sun to rise and set each day. Without His daily care none of us would have even the breath we take much less a bountiful table of food. This is especially true thanks to our Amish neighbors who live lives that revolve around planting, cultivating, harvesting, who look forward to the birth of spring foals and calves and lambs. While we can worship God anywhere, for us seeing the rhythms of life lived out in farming is an ever-present reminder of the active hand of the Lord of the Harvest. The simple act of driving around is an opportunity to glory in our Lord.

So much of the New Testament is lost on a culture that is so removed from the cycles of the seasons, winter leading to the promise of Spring and the labor of Spring leading to the anticipation of Summer and the Summer tending that leads to the bounty of the harvest in Fall, the hard work of the Fall leading to the waiting and preparing of Winter. So it goes on year after year. In fact all of life is predicated on those seasons happening the same way. Little wonder that so much of the New Testament invokes the language of agriculture, certainly for the culture they were in it makes sense but God chose that time and that place to reveal His Son. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. He is the the Vine and the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God. His death and resurrection are celebrated in breaking bread and drinking wine. How can we understand Him without understanding the harvest?

Anyway, enough random musings. I need to get my Turkey Game Face on and get ready to enjoy the turkey we raised on our farm with pumpkin pie made from pumpkins we grew in the garden and topped with whipped cream from our cow. Happy Thanksgiving!

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