NEW SERIES: GOD’S COVENANT OF PROVISION:
1. It's Harvest-time, Let's Celebrate!
2. Ruth: A Story of Grace
3. Abraham's Reward
4. An Irrevocable Pledge
5. Jehovah Jireh, My Provider
6. The Cross is Everything
7. Living in Abundance
Today we begin a new series focusing on God’s provision.
Here in the north of England the local farms are busy harvesting the first crops. Watching the huge machinery move slowly up and down the fields gives a great sense of connection with the past. Modern technology, perhaps, but an age-old process.
It is good to take time to ‘stand and stare’. Unlike our ancestors, we are largely removed from the provenance of our food, and often take the rich variety available for granted. In addition, we frequently forget that the ultimate source of our provision is the Lord.
An understanding of God’s amazing supply—in all its aspects—is fundamental to the rest God wants to give us. Sometimes we have a hard job trusting Him to look after the details of our lives; one of the ways we can start to build our confidence in His promises to care for us, is by noticing and celebrating the obvious.
This harvest-season is a great time to start; let’s take time out to focus on the wealth of foodstuffs available to us, and make it the focus of our praise and celebration. (If it isn't harvest-time in your part of the world, you can still adapt the following to your situation.)
1. Cook up a seasonal feast, or eat out at a restaurant specialising in seasonal food.
2. Bring the outside in—dress the table for your feast, or display some natural 'finds'.
3. Make some bread by hand: enjoy the feel of the ingredients and the process of kneading (and the result of course!)
4. Write or sing a psalm of praise. You don't need to be a David—just grateful!
5. Go for a sensory walk. Thank God for what you can see, hear, smell etc. Then record your observations in some way, for example, with photos, journaling, drawing, or poetry.
6. Visit a local farm shop or farmers’ market and buy local seasonal produce. Ask God to pour out His blessing on the business.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with corn;
they shout for joy and sing.
At harvest-time the earth is rejoicing; let’s add the sound of our praise.
A NOTE ON HARVEST FESTIVALS
In England, an ancient church festival for harvest first-fruits dating back to Anglo-Saxon times is Lammas, which takes place on August 1st. The name is a contraction of ‘Loaf Mass’ (‘hlaf’—Anglo Saxon for bread, and ‘mass’ which was a Latin Christian liturgical term, and was never used in any other context). At Lammas, bread was baked from the first crop of corn and the loaf taken to the local church to be blessed and distributed.
Although neo-pagans claim that Lammas was interchangeable with Lughnasadh, an Irish (Celtic) pre-Christian festival, etymologically this won’t fly, and there is no historical evidence for it, or that Lughnasadh was celebrated in England at all. It is quite likely that pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons had some sort of festival for harvest, but any suggestions as to content is pure speculation.
There can be anxiety in some Christian circles that celebrating harvest, is somehow ‘pagan’. My feeling is that our God is the Creator of All; and it is wholly appropriate to celebrate His provision in any way we feel fit.
Take a look at GOD'S PROMISE OF PROVISION page for more on this subject.
NEXT WEEK: RUTH: A STORY OF GRACE
Taking a look at the covenant love of God...
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[Photo credits: Evi Radauscher (wheat); Jonathan Noack (fish); Leonardo Carvalho (meat); Shelley Pauls (fruit & veg); Wesual Click (loaves); Shane Rounce (single loaf) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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