Yesterday, Sunday 26 September, like churches all over the UK, we at Pollards Hill Baptist Church (PHBC) celebrated Harvest Festival. This most important of events has fallen brilliantly in the midst of our series ‘Children of Israel’.
As the Jewish community celebrates a period of festivals and feasting, it’s been enlightening to learn more about Israel, God’s chosen, and how it’s so much more than the political Israel we hear about in the West.
As Christians, it is vital we understand how important Israel is to God, and how we fit into the covenants and promises God made to the Jews. For me, any understanding of how celebrations like Harvest Festival, something which brings me back to my school days, brings us closer to some of the celebrations the Jewish community has, is really important.
How many of us knew how closely our Harvest Festival fitted into the Jewish festival. This period is such a special time for the Jewish community and having our harvest festival coinciding with the Jewish community’s festival of Sukkot is very powerful and thought provoking. I would hazard a guess, many of us non-Jews had not even heard of the festival of Sukkot and therefore it’s close connection to our celebration of Harvest Festival.
For me, as a child, I loved Harvest Festival. It was a time when we were encouraged to think and appreciate how fortunate we were, and the fact that not everyone was as blessed. In my school, we would bring food to school where we would then make up baskets which we’d decorate, fill with all the food and deliver to the homes of elders in the community.
On the Sunday, we’d do the same but bring the baskets to church where all the beautifully decorated baskets would take pride of place at the front of the church. After church, again they would be delivered to the needy in the community. Today, we still provide these foods for the needy in our communities albeit they’re donated to foodbanks for all in need and not solely donated door to door.
Whilst as children we may not have fully appreciated Harvest Festival’s Christian heritage, of thanking God for all our untold blessings, we understood the joy and value of giving to those less fortunate than yourself.
It’s a special joy to see this tradition so vibrantly celebrated by the congregation of PHBC and this year, falling as it did, during our special series on Israel, it was made even more significant.
We would love to hear your harvest festival stories. Drop us a line, comment on our YouTube channel or via our social media platforms.