A harvest festival to save the Earth?

With the threat of climate change looming large, this year’s harvest season provides us with an opportunity to stand up for creation.

‘We plough the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God's almighty hand’

I love this hymn. It’s evocative of countryside churches, autumn garlands and tins of spaghetti hoops being solemnly placed before the altar. The chorus reminds us that ‘all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above.’

Yet humanity’s reckless treatment of creation means that these good gifts are under threat.

As the Earth heats up and the weather turns against us, the fields we plough and the seeds we scatter are at risk.

Many communities that Tearfund works with are already suffering. In countries closer to the tropics, failed harvests are becoming increasingly common. Here in the UK, many farmers have been struggling with the erratic weather. No one can escape the effects of the climate crisis.

But there is hope, if we act now.

On 23 September, the UN is hosting a Climate Action Summit. This is a key moment for governments to take the decisive action needed to avoid catastrophe. Until now, many world leaders have only paid lip service to their environmental commitments. The use of harmful fossil fuels continues to rise.

To coincide with the summit, on Friday 20 September people around the world are going on strike from their workplaces and schools. The demand is for wealthy countries to wake up to the scale and severity of the climate crisis. It’s set to be the largest mobilisation on the climate crisis in history: thousands of marches, strikes and other events are planned across 117 different countries.

The event coincides with harvest – providing an exciting opportunity.

Harvest festival – the date of which is 22 September, with church services taking place throughout the month – exists to remind us of our intimate connection to the land. If the land suffers, we suffer. Christians especially should understand the need for action. This Earth is God’s good gift, one that we should cherish and look after.

Perhaps our harvest offering this year, as well as that tin of spaghetti hoops, could be to join these protests in whatever way we can – standing in solidarity with people around the world. Many Tearfund staff will be taking action, and we’re encouraging our young supporters to get involved with school and university events (providing they have permission if under 18).

How wonderful would it be to see the church lift its voice in outrage at what is happening to creation?

Please join us as we cry out to God this harvest:

Gracious Father,

For the way in which we have become disconnected from the land –
Lord, have mercy.

For when the church has failed to speak out in defence of creation –
Lord, have mercy.

For the way in which we have failed to see climate change as the threat that it is –
Lord, have mercy.

For the crucial days ahead –
Give us your strength, O Lord.

For when difficult decisions need to be made –
Give us your wisdom, O Lord.

For this year’s harvest –
Give us your provision, O Lord.

Amen.

Gideon Heugh

Gideon is a Copywriter in Tearfund's Brand and Communications Team. He's passionate about poetry, nature and a good cup of coffee, and he has an MA in Creative Writing.