Interpreting Harvest

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder-_The_Corn_Harvest(August)

Having started a new weblog over the summer with a brief flurry of activity which lasted a couple of weeks, I very quickly disappeared into silence for a couple of months. My main efforts in writing have been directed towards finishing a dissertation, which I have named Archibald, about Calvin on the affections in the Psalter, whilst trying to look as though I’m doing at least something in the parish. I will be saying goodbye to Archibald at the end of this month, so I hope to be writing more regularly after that.

I’m not directly involved in speaking about harvest this year, but I thought I’d share something I had read before and stumbled across again when I was thinking about something else. Tim Chester has a chapter in his book A Meal with Jesus: Disovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table entitled ‘Meals as Enacted Mission’.  He exhorts the reader:

Join in with the cultural events in your neighbourhood. The chances are food will be involved somewhere, because food is such a powerful bond. Look for opportunities to reinterpret what is happening in biblical categories.

We might well include harvest festivals in this, as events in our local communities (for example, in schools) and as occasions which are still just about celebrated in our wider culture, particularly in rural areas. Chester’s suggestion of an example of biblical reinterpretation of cultural events works as well for harvest as it does for parties:

In Acts 14 Paul addresses the people of Lystra. They want to worship him and Barnabas as gods because the two healed a crippled man. Paul calls on them to turn from idolatry, and then says that God “did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). How many evangelistic messages have you heard along these lines? “God provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (NIV). So let’s give thanks to him rather than worshipping “vain things” (v. 15).

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