Stewardship, the Harvest and the First Fruits of Our Bounty

There’s something almost hardwired into the human heart which responds with joy and gratitude at the harvest season. Perhaps because our ancestors were tied so intimately to the soil, knowing that for them the success or failure of the harvest impacted their very survival and that of their children, our hearts gladden as well at the approach of the time of yield.

For many around the world, from the wheat fields of the Ukraine to the fertile plains of Canada and the U.S., the harvest is here. For the Christian steward, this is time for a deepening reflection on the harvest in our own lives and in how we are sharing the bounty which is given us. The Hebrew Scriptures show us a people intimately aware of the earth and all it produces. They insisted that the first fruits of the harvest must be given to the Lord. They knew from whence their plenty came: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” wrote the Psalmist.

Today, most of us have left our agrarian roots behind. But even in urban areas, people love to sink their hands into rich soil, their own or community gardens, and Farmers’ Markets proliferate. People are encouraged to plant one row for the hungry. The growing “eat local foods” movement speaks to our common desire to return to a closeness to the earth and its Creator.

Sadly, although the earth continues to produce in abundance, millions of our sisters and brothers go to bed hungry each night. The Christian steward looks at the world, and remembers the words of the late Indian spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi, “I must live simply so that others may simply live.” How can our sacrificial giving help those who do not enjoy a single percent of the bounty we possess?

As the produce ripens, the corn stalks begin to yellow, the pumpkins are cut from their vines, the threshers are at work in the fields, our hearts are filled with a centuries-old cry of “thank you,” and we ask, as we do each harvest time, how can we return the first fruits of our bounty to the Lord?

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