Saturday, 6 October 2012

Post harvest blues?

A cure for the post-harvest blues?

There is something about harvest-time that always leaves me a little bit unsettled. I don’t think it’s just the thought that with harvest safely behind us and the autumn colours really starting to take off we can settle down for the coming winter. I’m left with what I can only describe as the post-harvest blues.

It’s good that once again we have remembered to give thanks for the fruit, the flowers, all our food. And although the harvest has not been a bumper one, and we know that world food prices are up, even so we can give thanks that we have enough.. and more.

But somewhere I am left with a feeling that thanking God for the harvest is alright as far as it goes. I think I’m always left wondering quite where the Good News is in the harvest message of simple thanks to God who made all that we have.

So I was glad of today’s readings which have encouraged us to think about the beauty and wonder of creation, but also to think about the relationship we have with God the creator.

It is good to marvel at creation, it is good to give thanks to God for all the gifts of creation, but it is also important to remember that we are part of the created order, that we too are created beings.

In Psalm 8 the writer begins by praising the vastness of the heavens and the glory of God we see in them. When the Psalmist looks at the heavens, at the moon and stars – we might add and the billions of galaxies – the Psalmist asks ‘why do you care about humans?’.

In all the enormous vastness of space, why would the almighty creator God care about us – these tiny specks of life on the small blue-green planet we call Earth?
But, the psalmist writes ‘ you have made us a little lower than you yourself, and given us power over sheep, cattle, wild animals, birds and fish’.

God has made the immensity of space, but here on Earth he has placed us to be stewards. So it is right that often our thoughts at harvest-time turn to our important role in caring for our planet, and of sharing the bounty of the earth with other people and with all creation.

We cannot read Psalm 8 and then allow our thanks to be only about what we have stored up ‘ere the winter storms begin’. We thank God for making us and for giving us responsibility in his world.
Even so, I’m left with the post-harvest blues.

It’s almost as if  we are implying that God has made us this beautiful world, placed us in charge of creation to care for it and each other, and then… left us to it.
If we only praise the God of creation, we are left as inhabitants as a beautiful but essentially empty world. If we’re not careful, we relegate God to the role of an absent parent, who surrounds us with wonderful gifts, but never actually spends any time with us.

So I’m grateful for the letter to the Hebrews, which  makes it abundantly clear that our relationship with God our creator goes beyond this.

We are part of the created order and we are given responsibility for the rest of creation. But that is not enough – that is certainly not all there is to the relationship we have with God.
God has not made us to be just caretakers, God has made us to be God’s beloved children.
We mustn’t let the beauty of creation blind us to the fact that God is not only the almighty creator, who wants us to serve him. God is our loving parent, who wants us to know and love him.

So the letter to the Hebrews is clear that God’s fullest attempt to communicate love to us is through Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save the lost.

God has not just created the world and set us in it. God has come to his world in Jesus to love and heal and touch and convince us that wonderful as the world can be, it is only a part of the reality that is God. We can see reflections of God’s glory here, but we are made to know the fullness of life lived in God, through the eternal life beyond this created order.

We are not created by God to live loveless lifes as caretakers of an abandoned earth – we are loved and cherished. God is not an absent or impersonal creative force – God is with us and for us and surrounds us with love and care.

Here is a cure for the post harvest blues.
Here is bread and wine – gifts of creation but here at the Lord’s table much, much more. Here is God with us – here is the gift of the body and blood of Jesus – here is the promise that as we take this food and drink into ourselves we take the promise of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit.
Creating us and sustaining us – but also abiding with us and in us – as a cure for the post harvest blues and for all that ails us. In his name – father Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

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