The harvest is upon us and I am reminded of the well-known hymn, “Come, ye Thankful People Come”. This hymn, written in 1844, is still relevant today. Selected stanzas are found below:
“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come, Raise the song of harvest home; All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin. God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied, Come to God’s own temple, come, Raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, Fruit as praise to God we yield; Wheat and tares together sown, are to joy or sorrow grown; First the blade and then the ear, Then the full corn shall appear, Lord of harvest, Grant that we Wholesome grain and pure may be.”
During this time of harvest, pray for the welfare of the men and women who are toiling away to bring us food for our tables. The harvest seems to bring out the best in people – as they help others in a bind. For instance, this year my husband is assisting a farmer whose regular combine operator is injured.
There are many references to the harvest in the Bible – the eternal harvest and the annual harvest in the field. In Deuteronomy 16:15, it states that “the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete”. The harvest is a result of a blessing from God.
The work of the harvesters is vital to the world. During this time, I am reminded that the cost of food in our grocery stores is not a complete barometer of the true cost of food: counted also by the hours of work farmers and ranchers spend with their animals and crops, and the many injuries and deaths that occur every year. Recently, we attended a funeral of a man who died in a grain bin accident. Recalling this famous hymn, that man is now “forever purified, in thy presence [abiding].”
The last stanza of this great hymn is: “Even so Lord, quickly come, Bring thy final harvest home; Gather thou thy people in, Free from sorrow, free from sin, There, forever purified, in thy presence to abide; Come with all thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.” Words: Henry Alford, (1844) taken from The United Methodist Hymnal
The hymn speaks of the harvest of our souls into God’s loving arms. The great harvest, then, is God’s harvest of each one of us which is ongoing and eventually complete.