This week it was our harvest festival at the chapel - it felt like the most "normal" thing we have done since March (even though we were sat 2m apart and all wearing masks while the preacher wore a plastic face visor and we were all fumigated as we came in!)
You might say that the very FIRST harvest was when Cain and Abel brought their gifts to God - Cain bringing his grain, fruits and vegetables (because he tilled the earth), and Abel bringing MEAT - cos he liked a BBQ! Of course, this first harvest festival ended badly - jealousy broke out about who had brought what and what was or wasn't acceptable to God and it ended in murder.
Everyone seems to have survived our chapel harvest alive!
We do it, like they did, because we recognise that we greatly enjoy the fruitfulness of the earth and the bounty it gives us. We also recognise our role as stewards, and in a way this is us being accountable to God for that stewardship. Have we been good stewards? Have we shared the bounty equally? Are there still some with more and others with less?
The chapel harvest all goes to the T.H.A.T. foodbank, and we are grateful to members of the wider Kingsteignton community for also donating produce through our doorstep collection this year. We recognise that our stewardship has been poor - that there quite clearly ARE those with more and those with a lot less - and in the main, we are the ones with MORE.
But harvest is also about something else - it is about trusting God with our future.
The biblical idea of harvest has a fundamentally different idea at its heart than ours. In the Bible, harvest was known as "first fruits" - offering to God the FIRST of the crops in anticipation that there would be more to come - an act of faith, if you like, but also the idea that you give God the FIRST of what you have rather than what's left over at the end.
OUR version of harvest comes at a different part of the agricultural cycle - it comes when "all is safely gathered in". In other words, we wait until we KNOW how good the harvest was before we bring our offerings to God.
Can you see the fundamental difference in those ideas?
What does God get from your life? The leftovers of your offerings, your time, your energy, your attention? How would your life be different if you were to consider giving God the best of your life?
(all photos by Sarah Barlow)