by Nathan Hedt
When I was growing up on a farm near Horsham in the Wimmera, harvest time was the most important, urgent, busy, vital and also exciting time of the year. It was all hands on deck in our family as we worked to get that good grain from the wheat fields to safe storage.
When the harvests were good, there was a palpable sense of joy and thanksgiving in the midst of the hard work. This was what made farming worthwhile. The long hours, the stress, the anxiety when rain didn’t come or the crops weren’t so good, the gloom of long years of drought … all that was put in perspective when the harvest was good.
Lately I’ve been meditating on Jesus’ words in Luke 10:2 as he sends out the 70 on his mission: ‘The harvest is plentiful’.
It’s such a familiar passage but I want to just pause right there. ‘The harvest is plentiful.’ When Jesus talks about the harvest, he is talking about people who are open to the good news of the kingdom of God. In the first verses of Luke 10, Jesus is saying that there are more people who are open to hearing the good news than there are people willing to share it.
I believe that is still true, even in Australia in the 21st century. For so long, it has seemed that the harvest is poor, and we have lived with the anxiety and gloom of years of congregational decline. For so long it seems that we have been in a spiritual drought. Adult baptisms have been rare. We see few converts, people coming to faith as adults in the Lutheran Church.
However, I believe Jesus’ words are true for us now. The harvest is plentiful. There are many, many people in our cities, in our towns and in our rural areas who are desperately hungry for good news – the good news that only comes through Jesus, the good news of forgiveness and unconditional acceptance, restoration and community that comes as part and parcel of the kingdom of God.
There are more people open to hearing the gospel than there are people willing to share it with them.
Jesus goes on in Luke 10:2 to say, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest fields.’
Read the full story in the October edition.