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Friday, February 10, 2012

Ripe for Harvest

Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. (John 4:35 NIV).

Jesus says the above after the Samaritan woman remarks “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.  When he comes he will explain everything to us.”  Shortly afterwards she said to the Samaritan people:  “…Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way towards him (Verses 25, 29,30).  It is clear that one reason Jesus said “They are ripe for harvest” is that the people had been put into an open and receptive frame of mind.  They had been taught to expect a Messiah in the first place.  In this one sense at least, the harvest was ripe.

I think of Martin Luther King, Jr. who was the prophetic minister to the nation during the civil rights movement.  An essential reason he was able to convict the consciences of many whites living in a segregated society was that the ground had been laid for many years through weekly sermons in myriad pulpits regarding the love of God, the personhood of Jesus, and the cogency of the Golden Rule.  Add to that the familiar story of Moses and the wrongful slavery of the Jewish people, and it is clear that the harvest if not ripe was in many ways prepared and simply awaited a man of conviction to appeal to deeply held if latent convictions and beliefs.

We are now in a political season and it often sounds as if the public is ripe for harvest—but a strange harvest indeed.  For the public, rather than pictured as population with much fruit and gifts to bring to the table, is pictured as inherently barren waiting for the many promises and largess of a politician.  It is a crop to be exploited for deep-seated resentment and fears rather than to be tapped for the many years of loving investments made by relatives, friends, and institutions in the wellbeing of individuals; this towards the end of a bountiful fruition manifested within enriched and passionate lives.  Politics too often is simply a matter of appealing to our worst rather than our best—to seeing us as takers rather than givers, as hoarders of bitter fruit rather than participants in abundant living, as graspers at straws rather than as resolute givers of life.  I look for a transformative leader and by this I mean a leader who like MLK has the ability to appeal to our best no matter what the personal cost. 

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