Are Harvest Festivals Biblical?

Through September and October most of our churches and schools here in Stroud celebrate Harvest Festival. The modern harvest festival developed over time, drawing on biblical themes and local traditions.

Harvests Festivals in the Bible
Feasts connected to harvest are mentioned in the Bible. The Feast of Weeks (Shavout) marked the first fruits of harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering (Sukkot) marked the end of harvest. In the Hebrew calendar, the Feast of Ingathering finished on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, Tishrei, which falls between late September and late October.

Exodus 23.16 says, ‘You shall keep the feast of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labour’ (NIV). It is described in Exodus 34.22, where it is called the ‘Festival of Ingathering at the year’s end’ in the traditional King James Version or the ‘Festival of the Final Harvest’ in the New Living Translation. It marked the end of the harvest and thus of the agricultural year. 

The Gospels are full of allusion to agriculture and harvest and although early Christianity was arguably a faith of the cities people were clear about the provenance of the food that they ate. At the time of Christ it is estimated that around 90% of a person’s time would have been spent producing and preparing food. Since the very early days the Christian Church has historically played a key role in reinforcing the connection between people and the land

Harvest nowadays is a wonderful opportunity to connect in people’s minds the growing focus in our society on environment, health and food with God. It is a wonderful opportunity to talk about the production and consumption of local food. It is a wonderful opportunity to give thanks for all the wonderful gifts of creation and to reconnect with our place as stewards of that creation. It is also an opportunity to pray for and with the farming community, many of whom are struggling to make a living in today’s global economic climate.

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Communion during this time

In these unprecedented times, we are working hard to find imaginative solutions in a landscape that has been rapidly changing. Sometimes we get things right, and sometimes we miss the mark. I apologise that this has been the case regarding communion.

For those of you who have received wafers in a parcel, we would ask that you either consume them, or put them somewhere safe to bring back once we are able to be together again.

We are going to be sending out a new order of service for use during this time as either a simple service of the word or, on occasion, to help us to share an Agape meal together.

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