October is harvest time. Being a rural community many Hambledon residents will be used to the activity and toil of harvest. Harvest is a time of looking back in thankfulness and looking ahead.
When you look ahead, what do you see? Not literally, but in your mind. It’s an important question because it will shape next year’s harvest. If you’re a farmer you will know that the world of digital agriculture allows for predictive crop creation and adaptation. If the weather next year is likely to be dry you might plan to plant one type of crop now, and so on.
We don’t know what things will be like next harvest because we don’t have a form of digital agriculture that shows us our future lives. This creates insecurity for some and a need to collect and protect; for others it generates senselessness about what life is about; or maybe a question of purpose.
Imagine that, the ability to know the weather a year in advance? You’d be planning BBQs and beach holidays with precision!
Seeing ahead might sound great, but what if you could see your own future? It might appear a great idea but if you google ‘knowing the date of your death’ you are presented with a ‘death clock calculator’… and I haven’t had the courage to try it.
So, some knowledge is good but knowing all things may not be quite so simple. This is what harvest is about for people who follow a Christian faith. It is about giving thanks that God is ultimately our loving Creator, and that we are able look to Him for what the future holds. This isn’t about crops, produce, wealth or security. It is about purpose, destiny and identity. When we know ourselves in this manner we are becoming equipped to be the person God created us to be. If this sounds somewhat religious, let me quote the author of 1960s business book ‘The Money Game’
“The first thing you have to know is yourself. A man [sic] who knows himself can step outside himself and watch his own reactions like an observer.” Adam Smith (author’s pen name), 1968
Harvest shows us that we know ourselves not by what we collect or aspire to for ourselves or our families but by what we exist for. I was asked recently to reflect on years of working with people and to identify the one characteristic which seemed to hold people back from being at peace within themselves. I responded that many people live with a fractured sense of belonging that leads to following after desires that do not fill voids because they’ve forgotten they were created for another purpose. Harvest is a great corrective; like a spiritual detox with a ‘reset’ button waiting to be pressed.
And when you press the reset button, what happens? Well, it depends on what you’re expecting. The Bible says that God is the Lord of the harvest, but the harvest talked about there is people: people who recognise that God is calling to them. My experience is that those, who know things are fractured, recognise that a spiritual detox is powerful but that it is the beginning rather than a magic solution. It is the beginning of looking at the future differently and seeing themselves in a new light.
For Hambledon as village and church this meaning of harvest has special significance in that we are saying farewell to the Rev. Catherine McBride in thankfulness for all she has brought to the village. Catherine has brought us to know ourselves in a deeper way by showing us much of what God is like. We are also looking to the future and asking what God’s purposes are for the church here.