Harvest Festival - Reflection

'My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.'  John 15:8-10

Today, as part of our harvest celebration, I would like us to think about fruit. I love fruit, I think one of my favourite puddings is fruit salad. But today, I just want to talk today about three different types of fruit. Three different types that will help us to understand the big picture of the Bible. We’re got have three bible readings for you to look up at home. After each one, we will consider one piece of fruit which will help us with that reading.

Have a look at Genesis 3:1-6! (<<You can click on the coloured words)

Now, you’ll have noticed that the type of fruit isn’t spelled out, so we don’t know exactly what the fruit was. However, an apple is often used to remember the story of Adam & Eve and I’m gonna stick with it. So here is our first fruit: apples. Some look tasty. Some look rather waxy! Some look as if the may be sweet but turn out rather sharp. Right at the beginning of the Bible we find fruit growing in a garden. It is the garden of choice…The Garden of Eden. God created a beautiful world and created people to live in the garden. God in His love allowed us to choose whether to love him and know him or not; and sadly we chose not to. Adam and Eve chose not to love God, and this has affected each one of us. But we shouldn’t just blame our ancestors. All of us choose to ignore God. All of us choose to go our own way. And these choices, have produced a harvest! But the harvest isn’t a good one. This harvest is of ruined friendship with God, ruined relationships with other people, and the mess we’ve made of God’s world. Christians take the mess of the world and all the things we do wrong, including food shortages, wars, and unfair trade, seriously. We own up to the truth: that it is us human beings who have caused it,  not God. So that’s our first fruit; our first garden; our first harvest. And, you’ve got to admit, it’s rather sad. But God is faithful, and God loves us, so thankfully that isn’t the end of the story. Let’s move to a second garden, and a second fruit.

Have a look at Matthew 26:36-45

The second garden is very different. This garden produces olives. You can just eat the olives as they are, but they can also be crushed to make olive oil,  which has many uses. You can use olive oil for cooking, and can also use it like soap to make yourself clean? Now the story we just read took place in an olive garden. It is a real garden where once God — in the person of Jesus — knelt to pray. It’s called the Garden of Gethsemane and here Jesus chose to be crushed! Just like the olives in that garden could be crushed to make olive oil; so Jesus was crushed on the cross in our place for all the mess we caused. Jesus took on Himself all the bad things we had thought  or said, or done, so that we can have the opportunity of a fresh start, a clean sheet, a new beginning. The harvest from Jesus’ decision in this garden is great news for us. Sins dealt with. Punishment taken away. Friendship with God restored. This is the best harvest, we can possibly imagine! Jesus’ death can make us clean; cleaner even than if we had a bath in olive oil. So, that’s our second fruit. Our second garden. Our second harvest. There is one more garden we need to read about:

Have a look at John 15:1-10.

The third garden is very different again. This garden produces grapes.  It’s a vineyard! This is the garden Jesus used to describe how we can be different to the world! You may have noticed in the reading something unusual. Jesus says that He is a vine, or a grape tree! It might sound a bit strange, but this picture helps us to understand what it means to follow Jesus. In this garden Jesus says He is the main trunk of the tree, and that if we choose to belong to him, we are joined with him, connected to the vine. This means we can start producing the good fruit of the Spirit which we can see perfectly in Jesus: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness.  As we get linked up to Jesus the great vine this is how we can be different and produce a harvest of good things that can make us and the world the sort of place God intended it to be all along. God asks us to recognise that just like Adam and Eve we have each gone our own way. Each one of us, needed Jesus to go into the second garden, and to be crushed like the olives. And if we recognise the truth of these gardens, and put our trust in Jesus, well then we become part of the Vine. The sign that we have become part of the vine - that we have trusted Jesus - is that we start bearing fruit, just like a vine bears grapes. So the question we have to ask ourselves today is, how are we doing with our fruit? Are we growing more loving? Are we becoming more kind?Are we being more self-controlled, etcetera?  Sure we won’t be perfect! But are there any grapes in our lives? Are the number of grapes increasing? At the end of the day, it is God who does this work in us. It is the Spirit who brings about the fruit. But are we cooperating? Are we seeking to grow as Christians? Whether we are will be seen in our lives. So let’s pray that we would follow Jesus. Let’s pray that having chosen to follow Jesus, we will become more and more fruitful; more and more like Him. Amen. (from Rev. Mike)