When will there be a harvest for the world? (Part 1)
The Retune Blog - 29th September 2023
This Sunday people across the country will be celebrating the Harvest Festival. Globally the timing of this celebration varies in accordance with when the main harvest is gathered, but it usually involves gratefulness for the harvest and often some form of shared feast.
I’m sure most of us will remember the Harvest festival celebrations from our days in primary school. That time when as Brits we would give food for other people who might be less fortunate than ourselves. (Let’s face it, that often meant getting some tins out of the cupboard that we weren’t going to use and giving them in!).
This week’s song choice challenges us to reconsider the Harvest Festival, beyond reminiscing, as an important time to take stock. Let’s take a look at The Isley Brothers’ Harvest for the World.
Half of us are satisfied, half of us in need. Love's bountiful in us, tarnished by our greed.
There is something satisfying giving in love from our abundance, and generosity is certainly something we should celebrate, encourage and be thankful for. Yet, I’m always challenged that my giving is actually something I should also be thankful for as it's a marker that I have enough to be able to give.
Yet this second part is something I often don’t reflect enough on, my abundance. In a consumer driven world, to quote the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, “we are all consumers now, consumers first and foremost.” And this primacy of consumerism leads to an unhealthy abundance. I only need to look around to see how much stuff I buy, and how much money I spend on myself on things I simply don’t need.
This isn’t to say that there is anything inherently wrong with buying or having things, but it is a challenge to how much value and meaning this really brings us. At the time of Harvest, when we are encouraged again to give, it is also a reminder that it is often in the act of giving and not gaining that we find real satisfaction. Giving is a great way to challenge the status quo of selfishness which can arise in us as consumers. The Isley Brothers’ use a more robust language around this point:
Nation after nation, turning into beast.
Ultimately, when we are only governed by our desire to consume, own and protect, it doesn’t do something nice to us. At the extreme it can even destroy us and our relationships. So, this harvest time, it seems like a good opportunity for us to reconsider our priorities and check our own consumption and valuing of goods. Part two of the reflection on this song to follow next week.
Book of the week:
The Gift of Giving by R T Kendall (1998)
In this short book Kendall provides a theology grounded in real life stories of giving as to the importance and benefit of giving not just to the recipient but also to the giver. He argues that we cannot outgive God as the one who gives to us, and that taking giving seriously would revitalise Christian life together.