Sunday, October 04, 2009

Communication, community, comparing thanksgiving and harvest festivals


October 4, 2009 at Gemeinde Christe and Church of Christ , Wiesbaden Germany

By Kevin Stoda

Yesterday, I did an internet search for the term „Harvest Festivals” and to my surprise at the top of my search list was a site totally dedicated to Harvest Festivals around the world.

The site named HARVESTFESTIVALS.NET, had tales and descriptions from 100s of festivals celebrated in some 40 to 50 different countries around the world.

On the website, I learned that in the Alps, in Switzerland , Austria , and “In Germany they hold a harvest festival devoted to the shepherds and cowherds who would return from the mountains. The animals are covered with flowers, and the villagers put on their national costumes to welcome the procession.”

There are in Germany —as well—church festivals like this, called ERNTEDANKFEST; in larger cities and town festivals in the more rural areas to commemorate Harvest. It is usually held--as it is today on the first Sunday of October, much like Canada ’s Thanksgiving Day is.

In America , there are many harvest festivals, including Kwanzaa, which is based on the African harvest festival traditions. As well, Native Americans had their own harvest festivals long before Europeans showed up.

For example, there is the “Green Corn Festival or Ceremony is a Native American harvest celebration. Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Yuchi, and Iroquois Indians as well as other Native American tribes celebrate this ceremony. This ceremony is usually held when their is a full moon, which meant the first corn crop was ready to harvest. The date was not able to be determined ahead of time; it was up to the corn. It is a time to be thankful and also a time of forgiveness.”

The most famous festival of autumn and harvest in the USA is of course called THANKSGIVING DAY and it is national holiday at the end of November every year. It is considered by some to be the most important family day of the year for many who drive long distances to be home with their families.

Both the origins of the American Thanksgiving and the German Erntedankfest (today) combine (1) the celebration of the agricultural harvest of the farms of their nations with (2) thankfulness to the same Lord for making it all possible.

In this way, these two festivals reflect the many millennia-old traditions of Harvest Festivals in the Old Testament times of the Israelites. At that time, there were “many harvest festivals held and all” had “a religious significance and are based around the Torah which is the laws by which everyone must obey. These laws” were about “how people should behave, how to treat the land so it produces good crops. These festivals” were “held to show that they honor and follow the teachings of the Torah.”

Most important for any Erntedankfest is not only the food and fellowship of a community. Rather, it is the THANKS GIVEN TO THE LORD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE in taking care of us here on your journey on this earth. He has provided a bounty for our physical beings that is more than most of our ancestors could have ever dreamed of.

Similarly, we—as Christians--are gathered at communion time each Sunday to show that we honor, follow and are committed to the words, sacrifice and rising of our Lord Jesus Christ. The symbolic items at Communion time are fairly direct fruits of the earth—bread and wine, created by the God revealed to us all in the words of the Book of Genesis and revealed to us again in the person of his son, Jesus, who walked the earth ages later.

Apostle Paul told us to reenact this taking of bread and wine; just as Jesus, himself, had asked his disciples to do in reenacting the taking of the bread and wine on the very night he was betrayed and taken to die on the Cross for us and our sins and shortfalls. Let´s read what Paul wrote the Corinthians and prepare our hearts to recommit to our Lord in the fellowship of this community today.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (The Message) Paul shares:

23-26Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord's Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:
This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
Each time you drink this cup, remember me.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns.
1 Korinther 11:23-26 (Hoffnung für Alle)

23 [a]Denn Folgendes habe ich vom Herrn empfangen und euch überliefert:

In der Nacht, in der unser Herr Jesus verraten wurde, nahm er das Brot, 24 dankte Gott dafür, brach es und sprach: »Das ist mein Leib, der für euch hingegeben wird. So oft ihr dieses Brot esst, denkt an mich und an das, was ich für euch getan habe!«

25 [b]Nach dem Essen nahm er den Kelch und sprach: »Dieser Kelch ist der neue Bund zwischen Gott und euch, der durch mein Blut besiegelt wird. So oft ihr aus diesem Kelch trinkt, denkt an mich und an das, was ich für euch getan habe!«

26 [c]Denn jedes Mal, wenn ihr dieses Brot esst und aus diesem Kelch trinkt, verkündet ihr, was der Herr durch seinen Tod für uns getan hat, bis er kommt.



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