Scripture James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Communion Message ”A Harvest of Righteousness and Peace”
Yesterday, there were two weddings on the schedule. In two full years, only three weddings, and two of them were on the same day! But it was a perfect day to get married, and our prayers go out to our young friends as they set out on their new adventures.
As the long wedding day stretched into an evening reception, I was talking with folks about how my day was just beginning, since after the reception I still had a sermon to prepare for this morning. Someone told me that the wedding experience would surely give me “material” to work with for a Sunday morning message. And why not, because at a wedding love is in the air, and love is always a good subject for preaching!
But the reading I chose for today from the Letter of James does not speak of love, at least not directly. Instead, it talks about a harvest of righteousness. Just roll that phrase around in your head for a moment.
A harvest of righteousness. Harvest means “bounty”, harvest means “abundance”, harvest means “many farmers earning a living”, and “delicious food on the table”. A “harvest of righteousness” is even more than that, not just crops but a harvest of love, of justice, of generosity, of peace. A “harvest of righteousness” is a good description of communion, yes, grain and grapes are what we share in the bread and cup, but it is also a feast of love and a celebration of joy. That a taste of bread and a sip of juice multiply what seems to be very little into a powerful force that changes the world for the better.
The harvest season was very much in play yesterday. Printed in their wedding bulletin, one couple explained that they met through agriculture, and that agriculture is also their future together. As the other couple prepared to say their vows, the corn was growing tall on the other side of the fence, a tractor was cutting hay in the next field, and there were even walnuts dropping from the trees onto the lawn. A harvest time, for sure.
I found myself chatting with one of the videographers, and I found out that her other job is growing cabbage. She told me how many fields she has, how cabbage is planted, and how the cabbage is affected by rain. Not only that, but she told me that she donates and shreds the cabbage we use for our Turkey Dinner each October. From her I learned more about cabbage than I ever thought I would need to know!
I admit to not liking cabbage all that much, but I do enjoy Cole Slaw, and when I happen upon the Cole Slaw at our dinner in October I will be thinking of the many other farmers like her who not only grow the cabbage, onions and squash, but who put their whole heart into it!
What I love about our church is that there is so much expertise here about the harvest of righteousness. We have professionals, farmers, farm equipment manufacturers, and produce wholesalers. We also have amateurs who have small gardens in the yard with tomatoes and zucchini. But the greatest expertise is knowing how to harvest all of the things that God has planted in the human heart. That’s why I am glad we are here together to plant and harvest righteousness!