Reflection by David Pattinson
Harvest – Deuteronomy 8:7-18. Luke 12 :16-30
One of the joys of being in a walking group – I used to walk the Welsh hills every week – is that you have the time to engage in conversation that can have depth and meaning. I remember one such conversation which essentially was about whether I have any responsibility for someone who lives in a different country, community and culture. My companion argued that there was enough to be concerned about with one ’s own; “Charity begins at home”. And I suspect that’s a view shared by many, who would do away with our national aid budget.
As I read the opening verses of the passage in Deuteronomy – “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…..a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing” there is such a strong sense of harmony, of nature working together to produce a rich bounty. It makes my companion’s view difficult to sustain.
There is an interconnectedness in creation which is complex; wonderful; mysterious; beautiful; and fragile, all at the same time. But that reality has far reaching consequences because it means that as we disturb the sometimes robust, but sometimes delicate eco structure, we disturb the harmony and threaten our very existence. Perhaps Covid19 has reminded us of that reality. What happens in a town in China can impact the world.
Our readings for Harvest have within them two injunctions – which perhaps become more difficult as we age: Do not forget! Do not worry!
As the promised land beckons the Israelites are reminded “Do not forget the Lord your God”; “Do not say to yourself my power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.But remember the Lord your God”. In a world where we are expected to earn success, it’s natural to conclude that if we are successful then that is by our own effort. The danger is that, like the rich man who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich towards God, we become self absorbed. We inhabit a “lockdown” world.
But if we forget – if we forget the reality of God; if we neglect this relationship, if we become self absorbed, then the balance and the harmony that God intends are distorted. And the result is Global warming; floods; fires; animal extinction. (Did you see on Monday night “Prince William:A planet for us all”?)
And how then can we avoid the worry? And under stress we worry more. “Do I have enough toilet rolls? better just buy another pack – in case – store them in my barn.” But the gospel says don’t worry. What is it that makes us worry? We worry when we are not in control.We worry when we feel inadequate to meet life’s problems. We worry when we fear for the future. And we worry not just for ourselves but for those we love.
Into this worry God in the humanity of Jesus says “don’t worry. Don’t worry because I have made a covenant with you to bring you into a land of plenty and harmony and fruitfulness. Don’t forget I fed you with manna even in the wilderness of life.
And you need only look around, to comprehend the nature of my provision and love for you. Contemplate the birds; Consider the lilies and the grass. Above all consider my love for you in the suffering of death and the joy of resurrection.” That cycle of life, death and resurrection which is written into the very DNA of creation.
Perhaps, especially this harvest, we need to be reminded of the reality in which we can trust.
This world is God’s creation. As the psalmist puts it “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the round world and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)
That we can see God at work in the beauty of nature. Bonaventure, the contemporary biographer of St Francis, saw all things as likenesses of God; fingerprints and footprints.
That God created a world of harmony, and we are invited to get in tune with the earth’s song. We are part of the “Family of Man”; part of “One World”.
That God has made a covenant with us to provide for us and protect us, and bring us to fullness of life. Despite our problems and difficulties, God’s kingdom is coming.
So “don’t forget” and “don’t worry” and may we contribute in whatever small way we can to the intended togetherness of this world and its peoples.