Thanksgiving will always call to mind gratitude.
It’s right there in the name.
And heaven knows, gratefulness is in short supply today. And any day set aside for saying "thank you" is a godsend.
But the holiday has other parts to it as well. There’s the idea of “harvesting” or “gathering,” for example. And with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shining a brighter light on missionary work in recent months, seeing Thanksgiving as a call to “bring in the sheaves” and rescue the quick and the dead, makes for a nice hand-in-glove fit with the missionary theme that has sprouted in the church this year.
But I’m going to give the harvest theme another twist.
I’m going to say we need to keep in mind that we, too, are the harvest.
For decades people have been tilling the soil, planting seeds and watering sprouts, knowing that we’d eventually be coming along. They wouldn’t live to see us, but they knew we’d bloom and blossom. They trusted the seasons and their labors.
In short, we are the garden our ancestors never lived to see.
When the Brigham City Utah Temple was dedicated, the theme of the cultural celebration was “Harvest of Faith.” The festival showcased all the different people who had gone before us in Box Elder County to make things ready for our arrival.
There were the pioneers, of course, the Native Americans, the early farmers, the railroaders and the rocket scientists. All of them had labored with us in mind. They knew we’d show up.
The refrain of the festival sounded over and over in the narration and songs: “We are the harvest of their faith.”
It’s interesting that the same theme is also the theme of many Thanksgiving hymns we sing each November.
We sing “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” and our minds immediately flash on that word “thankful.”
But it’s the second verse that holds the meaning. It begins, “All the world is God’s own field,” and ends with the line, “Lord of harvest, grant that we, wholesome grain and pure may be.”
We are the crop that God has stored up for the difficult winter ahead.
We are his two-year supply.
We can’t allow ourselves to become spoiled or to grow moldy. Too many people have worked the field getting things ready for us.
We are God's winter provisions.
We need to keep that in mind.
Being somebody's wheat is a responsibility.
There’s a Thanksgiving hymn I’ve always liked that doesn’t appear in our hymnal. It was written by Cesareo Gabarain in his native Spanish, then translated into English without the rhymes.
The text says in part:
"You are the seed that will grow a new sprout;
You’re a star that will shine in the night;
You are the yeast and a small grain of salt;
A beacon to glow in the dark."
"You are the dawn that will bring a new day;
You’re the wheat that will bear golden grain.
You are a sting and a soft, gentle touch,
My witnesses wherever you go."
In giving thanks for the bounteous harvest filling our Thanksgiving tables, it might not be bad to remember that we, too, are somebody's harvest. And we have an obligation to those who’ve gone before to bless and nourish.