HARVEST FESTIVAL

‘To go down on our knees before the Creator God’

Long time ago a Tamil poet wrote these lines about the earth,

“The owner, called God, preferred the farmer as His worker.”

Is there any other profession that is as noble, inevitable, and philanthropic as that of farmers? Most of the other professions are created to lead a comfortable and worry-free life, but only farmers, labor to live. There so many noble and selfless professions we can point out, but today they are either institutionalized or forced to compete with one another for survival and profit making. Particularly, in India, most farmers remain poor, living without an appraisal in their lifestyle, merely surviving and living for others, despite their hard work. Indeed, their profession, need, and lifestyle means what God means in the words of Jesus, “the greatest among you will be your servant.”(Mat 23:11)

There so many things one can learn from farmers, for our Christian living, but some are prodigiously important. Their commitment to depend on unpredictability is inimitable to farmers. Unlike regular jobs, in farming, so many unplanned risks need to be taken and that is why it is so pivotal for farmers to have faith in God and nature. Their courage to face all the odds of adversities. Whatever their hardships or loss, farmers continue to work with the same undeterred strength and passion, year after year. And, the contentment to live with whatever life gives, is a divine nature of farmers. As I have ministered among the farming community, I can say for sure, that among many professionals, farmers are the most unlikely to complain and fret. This is because their professional intention is not to make profit and ensure security; rather, it is just their way of life.

The Bible repeatedly speaks about commitment, courage, and contentment as the way of Christian life. As we read. “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.”(Psalm 37:5), “Be people of courage.”(1 Cor.16:13), and “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”(1 Tim 6:6-7). However, often we tend to separate our profession from our life or our family life or our faith, which makes it so convenient to justify what we do. This is a big concern, because, treating our profession, family, and faith separately, disowns the authority of God and the declaration that He is above all. For what we read in the Bible, the instructions and commands are not given separately, each for our family life, professional life, and spiritual life. Yet, if we do so, we are asking God to stay away or wait until we finish our business. That is what Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Why it is so important for us to celebrate with farmers, the festival of Harvest? It is not only to identify with this noble profession but to remember and affirm the fact that God is the creator and the owner, and we are just inhabitants of His creation. And so, we have the responsibility to take care of one another, share equally, and exist together. God created this world with beauty and majesty and gave us the responsibility to take care of it. It is only man’s greed, insecurity, and weakness that has turned us against one another.

Let us remember that God worked hard to create a peaceful world and now He continues to love and redeem us from this sinful world, which we have witnessed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also a test of our faithfulness, to see if in our life and work, we put God in everything, because everything belongs to Him, the Creator, God, our Father Almighty.

As the FCCI, we are celebrating the Harvest Festival to give thanks to God for His Creation, to commit our life to live for His purpose, and be courageous in whatever life brings, and be content in our heart. The Harvest festival is all about giving, not just things, because they are symbolic and helpful to others, but going down on our knees before our God and giving thanks for all that He has done for us and offer ourselves as an offering is imperative, so that God becomes the reason and the purpose of our life. Is there anything more precious to God than giving ourselves to God?

Prayer

Our dear Creator God, we go down on our knees, offering ourselves, seeking your forgiveness for being so selfish and neglecting your presence in our life. Help us Lord that we may identify with all the farmers in giving thanks for all that you provide so abundantly and equally in our life. Lead us to commit our life in serving you, to have courage to face whatever may come our way, and to have contentment in worshiping you.

Isn't it beautiful that a little girl receives the love of her pet?Isn't it beautiful that a little girl receives the love of her pet?
Receiving is beautiful and divine too….

If, giving is compassion then receiving is humility. If, not giving is hostile then not receiving is resentment. CES

During Christmas, we hear the message of love, hope, and joy everywhere. We also keep showering ourselves with celebrations, parties, and fun, whenever possible and with whoever we can. Sometimes we may forget the seriousness, pain, and expectations of Christmas. We have four days to go, and, if not now, I may have to wait for another 12 months to talk about these things. Whatever I say in these next four days is not to find fault with, blame, or be pessimistic about any individuals or groups, but to highlight the importance of being mindful at Christmas, about few things.

Few days ago, I saw my wife, Rev. Sujanna, looking very sad and relentlessly reading the Bible. I asked her what’s happening and she said, ‘I am reading all the minor prophets because I am very depressed.’ I insisted on her telling me what was going on and she explained to me what really happened. I did not try to help Susan much on this because I know she will get through it, also because she is doing the right thing by reading the Minor Prophets. Nevertheless, as we are going through this persecution of exclusion for a while for doing God’s work, I couldn’t believe how easy it is to disvalue one’s friendship and their services. And so, I was wondering what is going wrong. Is it so hard to love and forgive people who care for us? And my thoughts on ‘why’ were led by the Spirit, like these….

Christmas has become all about giving, these days. Everybody wants to throw parties and have celebrations. We are willing to serve food for the homeless and become active in collecting things to be distributed to the poor. It is a good thing as Christians and as a family, but we may be forgetting about what it means, to be receiving and not receiving. Most of the time, we remember the things we give but not those we receive out of giving, because of the pride in our ‘I give’ attitude of giving. Sometimes we think we give because we are compassionate, and people receive because they are pathetic, and they are in need. This attitude of ‘I give’ can easily freeze us to unlove, disown, and even to go to the extent of hating somebody who received from us. It is as simple as this - if we don’t have love in our giving, we fail to see humility in the person who is receiving. In other words, giving is nothing if there is no love!

Like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13: 3, ‘If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.’

As a pastor, I have received help from people, with humility, because I felt I am loved by them. Most of the time, I have received what people have given, not just because I needed it or even otherwise, but to make them feel happy and good and accept their love and friendship. Some of you may remember, whenever we went to serve the homeless, I used to tell people not to have the impression that we are giving food for them because they are hungry and helpless, but to come to love them as they are. I think most of our friends who have joined us in the last few months would agree that homeless people don’t just receive food from us, because they are hungry, but more importantly receive our love, which is their humility.

I understand that not giving is very bad, but not receiving is equally bad. As an employee of a hospital, I always feel bad when I have to say no to my lovely psych patients when they offer a hug or their paintings. I understand this is required in a lawful and corporate world. But, doesn’t the Bible speak the opposite? God loves us and offered Jesus to us, so, are we not to receive him? Jesus wants to receive from us too - does He not say, ‘come unto me’, ‘lean on me’, and, ‘love others as I have loved you?’

Please think of our parents, too. Do we intend to give to our parents as a charity? Do our parents receive from us because we are great and philanthropic? There is an element of love, humility, and sacrifice in both giving and receiving. So, I dare you to remember that giving and receiving is equally wonderful, loving, charitable, sacrificial, and unconditional, if it is based on the Love that is professed in Jesus Christ, the Giver and the Receiver.

Christmas is not just about giving, but also about receiving. Susan and I keep saying God has given us this challenge and you have received us and loved us. What else can we give back, but what all we know and have - CHRIST JESUS, but give Him truthfully and rightfully with the spirit of Christian love. Give to Receive <->Receive to give = Serve Christ! Clive E Samson