BRINGING IN THE SHEAVES
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
You may be familiar with this 19th century hymn which reminds Christians that we are to be about the business of sowing and reaping. It is an old song and does not often find its way into contemporary worship. Jesus, however made frequent use of agricultural metaphors and planting and harvesting are frequently the subject of his parables.
Some of the most famous of Jesus’ parables are the Parables of the Kingdom. Jesus promises that the message of the kingdom will reproduce itself many times over what is sown, making up for the loss due to people never responding, people falling away because of persecution, and people distracted from kingdom business due to concern for riches or anxieties about the troubles of the world (Mark 4:3-9, 13-20).
In another parable (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43), Jesus contrasts the kingdom children with the children of the evil one – the wheat and the darnel (weeds that look like wheat until the time of harvest). The angels gather the wheat at the judgment, but consign the weeds to the fire.
Additional plant-parables include the seed growing of itself without any additional work required between planting and harvest (Mark 4:26-29) and the growth of the mustard seed, far beyond what its diminutive size would lead us to expect (Mark 4:30-32). (http://deeperstudy.com/plant-metaphors-in-the-bible-a-tool-for-deeper-study/)
In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus instructs his disciples to take on the role of harvesting the crop. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
We as a community of faith, find ourselves at a moment in our history when we need to ask (pray) the Lord of the harvest to send laborers in the harvest. These words require little interpretation; they are abundantly clear. There are people all around us who need to hear the message of God’s love and be welcomed into the kingdom of God. The seed planted is the word of God. We are promised that the seed grows regardless of our efforts or the obstacles placed in its path.
The challenge for us is to be willing to pray for workers to enter the field and welcome people into the kingdom of God. It is the responsibility of those who claim the name of Christ to make that name known through our actions as well as our words. We are promised that there is a harvest, but we are responsible to reap that harvest.
We can change the name of our Sunday morning activities, change the time of worship, establish small groups, and paint bright colors on the walls. But if no one invites it is all wasted effort. If we are committed to Jesus Christ and love the church, then we will pray and become engaged in the business of bringing people to Christ.
Oswald Chambers wrote: The key to the missionary’s difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work— that is, not work as the word is commonly used today, which often results in the shifting of our focus away from God. The key to the missionary’s difficult task is also not the key of common sense, nor is it the key of medicine, civilization, education, or even evangelization. The key is in following the Master’s orders— the key is prayer. “Pray the Lord of the harvest….”
How about it? How about the intestinal fortitude and the spiritual commitment to risk inviting someone to come to church or a small group? How about the courage of our convictions to risk rejection or ridicule? The promise is that there is a harvest waiting. The question of course, is; who will reap that harvest?