California Vineyards in Fall (credit: A. Christ)

Last week, Anne and I traveled to northern California so that we could gather with family as we attended her uncle’s funeral.  He had lived most of his adult life in and around Lake County, a place that, like his North Dakotan childhood, is built on a vibrant agricultural economy.  Like so much of this world, the seasonal rhythms of planting and harvest define much of life.  I was thinking of the orchards and vineyards of Lake County as I prepared this week for our Thanksgiving Eve service, during which we heard from the prophet Joel:

Do not fear, O soil;
    be glad and rejoice,
    for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field,
    for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
    the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

Joel 2:21-22

While significant parts of California have been particularly stressed by drought, wildfires, and worker shortages, the areas we explored last week seemed to be living richly into an abundant harvest.  The branches of trees still sagged under the weight of ripening fruit.  Vineyards, ready for fall pruning, looked healthy and the wineries were boasting of full tanks.

It’s into an abundant landscape such as this that the prophet reclaims God’s promises for a future.  Our family gave thanks last week for a life filled by many blessings and all of God’s work made possible through Anne’s uncle. Look around you today and discover the ways that your own harvests may reveal God’s abundance of blessings.  “Rejoice and be glad.”  Give thanks and be reminded of God’s promised future. 

May God’s peace come to you this day. -Pastor Peter

Let us pray…

Let the vineyards be fruitful, Lord,
and fill to the brim our cup of blessing.
Gather a harvest from the seeds that were sown,
that we may be fed with the bread of life.
Gather the hopes and the dreams of all;
unite them with the prayers we offer now.
Grace our table with your presence,
and give us a foretaste of the feast to come.

Text © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress.