Why do we have harvest festivals in our churches? Is it necessary to have these harvest festivals? I am sure most of you will say that it is necessary to have a harvest festival in our churches. Then we should ask the question “What is the meaning of harvest festivals?”
From very ancient times human beings noticed that they have to live on harvest. Because what they ate for their survival (things such as meat, vegetables and fruits) were the harvests. Later on, to build their houses and make their clothes again they had to get the necessary materials from the harvest. All these things made human beings realize that it is impossible for them to live without harvest.
Then naturally they had to ask the question of how thy get the harvest or from whom they get the harvest. Then most of them came to realize that they get their harvest from a higher authority that was not visible.
Then they started worshipping natural phenomena such as the Sun and the Moon. Even today there are people who worship in this manner. Gradually in some cultures, they began to believe that there is a power, which is behind and beyond all those powers.
Our Christian liturgical calendar is integrally connected to our harvest. For example, Easter or the resurrection of Jesus Christ took place in the context of Jewish Passover. Jewish Passover is connected to the feast of unleavened bread which was originally a harvest festival.
In this scenario, we can see how our liturgical colours have been derived from the agricultural background in the context of harvest. For instance, in the seasons of repentance, we use purple as the liturgical colour. During the seasons of growth, we use green as the liturgical colour.
Theologically speaking all our Eucharistic services are harvest festivals. Because we offer fruits of the earth and of human labour at every Eucharist. Bread is made out of wheat flour. People work hard to get the harvest of wheat. Wine is made out of grapes. Again people have toil hard to get the harvest of grapes from the creeping plant of vine. Here we see how God offers the flesh and blood of his son through our harvest for our spiritual nourishment.
When we go a step further we can learn that all our worships are harvest festivals. The theological word for worship is called liturgy and this word is derived from 2 Greek words called λαος (Laos) and ργον(ergon) Laos is people and ergon is work. The result of the work of people is harvest. Therefore in our worship, we offer to God the harvest of our God-given time, money resources etc.
It is the belief of Christians that every Eucharist is a small Easter. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist we are living in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Beginning from the early Christians up to date we meet the resurrected Christ in the Eucharist.
According to the theology in the letter of James (James 1:18) resurrected Christ is God’s spiritual harvest and the first fruit of all he created.
Therefore as we celebrate a harvest festival let’s remember that we are a people of the harvest. Let’s experience and comprehend our God through our harvest who is the “power beyond all powers” in the universe.
Let’s commit ourselves to using the fruits of the earth and of human labour for his glory and for the furtherance of his kingdom here and now. May God bless you. Amen.