The Challenge of Thankfulness in the Age of Stuff.

Come Ye Thankful People Come


We just sang

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.

It's an English hymn of Harvest Home. Written for village harvest festivals in England.

In England the harvest festival is called the harvest home. This festival usually takes place during September. Offerings of fruit and vegetables are placed around the altar for a thanksgiving service that would make sure there was a good crop for the next year. After the service the offerings are given to those less fortunate.

The Harvest Home festival is held at the end of September once all harvesting of all crops has been finished. People take great pride in decorating the churches and often keep the best of the harvest for this festival.

The altar in the churches is decorated with vases which hold autumn leaves, berries and flowers and special tables are set up to hold the offerings that people bring. There are pumpkins, cabbages, baskets of fruit and vegetables of all kinds. Sometimes the window ledges are used to display the results of harvest.

People also come to church to say prayers of thanks and sing hymns. At the end of the service the produce that has been left as offerings are each blessed and sent to hospitals for the sick and needy. Also in some places at the end of the day there is a Harvest Home supper after which people dance and have a band play.

Double Meaning

It understands that Harvest-tide is but a fore-taste of the final harvest and the victory of Christ. It affirms for us that the whole world's history is geared around one man and his triumph over sin and death. Sung during a Christmas celebration, it is the perfect moment to celebrate the arrival of the Lord of the Harvest and to recognize that the baby in the manger is the Lord of all Time who will judge sin and the world and divide the wheat from the tares on the final day.

The text uses imagery found in two gospel parables: the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29) and the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).

2. 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.

3. For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home; from the field shall in that day all offenses purge away, giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast; but the fruitful ears to store in the garner evermore.

4. 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.

Appl: So it is a Hymn of Thanksgiving designed to remind us of greater truths about our relationship with Jesus--Lord of the Harvest.

T.S. We now live in the age of Paradox. An age of Paradox that twists and distorts our understanding of Thanksgiving. As Americans we celebrate a Holiday called Thanksgiving in the age of Paradox.

Gregg Easterbrook in The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse wrote,

"The incredible rise in living standards for the majority of Americans and Western Europeans has made them more affluent, healthier, more comfortable, more free and sovereign over ever taller piles of stuff--but it has not made them any happier."

Did you ever stop to think about why the Pilgrims were so thankful, grateful.

They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, "First, make thy will." The crossing was very rough, and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home -- Plymouth, they called it -- winter had set in.

The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick. Many never recovered.

"That which was most sad and lamentable," Governor William Bradford later recalled, "was that in two or three months' time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases.... There died sometimes two or three of a day."

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