In West Malling and in Offham this month, we will be marking the traditional celebration of the Harvest.
While most of us may not have the task of literally gathering in the year’s wheat and grain, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, turnips, cabbages and all the rest, I believe it is still a festival with great meaning because it gives us all a chance to reflect and give thanks for the many, many good things in our lives.
It’s easy to look around us, especially in relatively affluent communities like ours, and compare ourselves and feel a sense of poverty. Their car is newer than mine, their house is bigger than mine, their clothes are more fashionable than mine, the meal on their table looks tastier than mine.
But if you want to truly play a game of comparisons, let me remind you of these facts.
If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death… you are blessed, you are better off than three billion people in the world.
If you are able to read this, you are better off than some two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the fear and loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pain of starvation … you are better off than 500 million people in the world.
If you can go to a tap and get clean, safe drinking water, you are better off than 9% of the world’s population. If you have a place to shelter from the wind and the rain, you are better off than 22% of the world’s population who have no such luxury today.
If you have an Internet connection, you’re better off than 60% of the world’s population.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep… you are richer than 75% of the people in this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and some spare change in a dish somewhere in your house… you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
So before you go green with envy over the latest Maserati or Mitsubishi, or jealously covet your neighbour’s Versace, Chanel or Prada, just be reminded that you have many, many blessings and it is a good thing to be grateful for all that we have received.
But here’s the kicker, Jesus also taught that to those who have received much, much will be expected. In other words, there’s a second thought which is as important as the first. If you can be genuinely thankful for all that you have received, you ought not to be satisfied with just that knowledge. Instead, Jesus taught that we should respond by sharing what we have with others.
In God’s Kingdom, the promise is that everyone will have plenty. When we are generous, we pull God’s Kingdom into the world we know. As Jesus prayed “let your Kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven”.
Rev David Green