Bringing in the Sheaves

Sheesh! Can you believe we are already in November?! The time is flying by and winter will soon be upon us! I was thinking a bit about this as I was looking around at fall decorations door to door. The harvest season is all but completed and people have hay bales stashed on the front steps. They also have these little bundles of dried grasses bunched together. We have one as part of our fall decorations at church. Do you know what they are called? It’s called a “sheaf”… the plural of which is “sheaves”. Does that word sound familiar? In case it doesn’t, “Bringing in the Sheaves” is an ancient hymn penned by an American named Knowles Shaw, who was inspired by Psalm 126:6.

“Bringing in the Sheaves”

Many will recognize it from “Little House on the Prarie” … the little chapel congregation always seemed to be singing it whenever the Ingalls family attended church. Interestingly enough, it was also featured in the horror film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and the 1966 version of “Batman”! Talk about the gospel in strange places! Here are the lyrics:

“Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,

Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;

By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. (Refrain)

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,

Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. (Refrain)”

Knowles Shaw, 1874

Obviously the old fashioned hymn makes references to the farming harvest. But how powerful of an example is this to the Bible’s idea of sowing the good news? It’s hard work to labour and toil (ask any farmer!) but the fruits of your labours are certainly worthy of rejoicing! Such is also true of the follower of Christ who shares His love. The servant attitude and sometimes tedious faith journey is hard work! Sharing your faith is not easy — especially in the world we live in today! Yet, the joys of “bringing in your harvest” is certainly cause for rejoicing, not only in the heart of the new believer, but also in your own!

So, before the snow dusts the world in white, remember those bundles of straw we put out on the porch steps… and what they represent, then smile as you “bring in your sheaves”.

You are “Here”

Welcome back to another week of the weird way I think. Can I start by saying I appreciate you reading my quirky little posts? It helps to know that someone, somewhere, thought about the same things I think about and took time to comment. It gets noted in my heart. Today is a rainy, chilly day in the depths of October. The weekend, though, was beautiful — and we reveled in the warmth of a delightful fall Saturday and Sunday! Guess life is about balances, eh? We met friends (yeah for meeting friends again!!) and found a new walking trail to explore with the dog. Which is where I start my muse for this week. Have you ever been to a new location and about to start out on a journey and you consult the official map board posted at the entrance? They have them in the mall, provincial parks, large buildings, amusement parks… those signs that say this trail is 45 minutes long and loops around the pond, or your favourite shoe store is next to the donut shop on floor 2, or the five public washrooms are located here, here, here and here and here, but there is only one that is family friendly, and it’s back at the entrance….

One thing that all those map signs have in common is the “you are HERE” spot. That red dot or arrow indicating the location you are standing at right now. The central location you currently understand — and the spot in which you navigate the rest of your journey from. That little dot is your orientation. It’s your point of beginning. It’s also sometimes your final destination! The goal you want to get back to after the day of exploring. And so I began to muse… where is “here” in life? Where are you “at” right now, compared to the big map board of your journey? Big questions. Perhaps big answers.

My searching didn’t help much in answering the big questions of life. I did find a little tidbit of random information, though, about the “@” symbol…. commonly called “at” in modern day computer language… originally penned by medieval monks, the symbol became standard in commerce in the 1800’s to mean “at the rate of”. It wasn’t until 1971 that a computer scientist named Ray Tomlinson needed a way to connect his computer programmers to one another…and “randomly” chose the obscure symbol on his typewriter. The rest is email history, as they say! Bloggers will tell you it’s where they are “@”. Okay. Moving on.

Let’s go back to where we are at. The “we are here” dot. Are you happy where you are? I think about this a lot. I like to set goals, but I find I rarely meet them. Am I content? There’s a big theological discussion waiting to happen.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Philippians 4:11

What did Paul mean when he says that he has learned to be content? Was he financially secure with investments to keep him happy well into retirement? Or was he simply sharing thanks for the gifts the Philippians sent him? Does it mean we can’t ask for more? Should we be striving for more? The verses before remind us to “present your requests to God” and “think on things that are noble and true”. I don’t know. I am HERE. On this dot. Yes, I can be content here, with God’s help and blessing. Perhaps this is where He wants me to be for now, in order to serve a greater purpose in His plan that I don’t know about. I’ve been thinking about Hannah — who wanted a son so bad it ached. Was it wrong for her to pour her heart out to God in prayer? Was it her faith that God would answer her prayers that led to Samuel’s birth? Should she have been content to be greatly loved by her husband and not need more? Her husband thought so.

As usual, I don’t have all the answers to such questions. I struggle with them too. Yet, I think it is important to take note of the “you are here” dot in life. To look at the big board and figure out if you can go around the pond and still make it back to the “you are here” dot in time for lunch. Or should you wait here and not go to the donut store on floor 2? Are you looking at the map, my friend? Are you staring at the possibilities with excitement? Or are you learning to be content “@” home base? Where people know where to reach you. It’s all part of the journey, and worth the muse.

Light in the Darkness

Alright my friends, I need you to help settle a little debate I’m having with the hubby. I think it is perfectly okay to say “it was pitch black dark” outside. He says that saying “pitch black” is redundant… black is black, no need to describe it. What do you think? Is my description an over zealous attempt to embellish an already described adjective? I don’t know, I think you can have varying degrees of “darkness”… shades of grey if you must. And “pitch black dark” is dark. Scary dark.

I suppose as we approach the end of October, it is the appropriate time to talk about all things scary… and dark. Have you ever been lost in the dark? We have often travelled along country roads unfamiliar to us “after dark”. And let me tell you, with no city street lights and only distant farm houses to light your way, the back roads can be frightening at night. I’ve sent up more than a few quick prayers on such occasions, hoping we don’t meet a large animal or sudden dip in the road! Can I get an amen? Tell me this “city girl” is not the only one who notices these things?

Ever been down one of those dark, country roads?! (Photo credit: Pierre PRESTAT)

Let’s muse about dark and light for a little bit. I think it is a pretty well known assumption that “darkness” versus “light” is often symbolic of evil and good, respectively. All things “bad” hide out in the shadows. Light shines as a beacon of hope and goodness in an otherwise evil or dark world. Statistically speaking, the actual word “darkness” appears 175 times through out the Bible. Physical darkness (like the eclipse that happened at the cross or during the plagues) usually indicates a presence of evil or a removal of the Divine. No wonder we naturally fear it. Separation from God and the goodness He brings is a frightening thing to think about. Most of the 175 verses back up our thoughts thus far. I challenge you to look them up, the verses are quite powerful and will make you so much more aware of the character of God and His ultimate power and presence. Consequently, the very real presence of evil are also quite evident in these verses as well.

And yet, during this time of year, we seem to be celebrating it. I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of Halloween or Trick or Treating. I love a great costume. And who doesn’t like candy? I love a good spooky movie, too. Still, I am discovering that the next generation has no idea how scary the “dark side” can really be. And I am not talking about Darth Vader either. Wizards, witches and oils, potions and piercings have weaseled their way into our everyday lives with very little attention to their origins. It’s worth some digging.

“Black as Pitch” ( Photcredit: elizaIO)

As with any hot topic of the day, I think it is important to do your research. Have open and honest conversations. Debate and challenge off the cuff remarks and blind followings. Ya’ll know I am an advocate for the “never stop learning” approach to life… and this includes the mystical stuff too. Learn and understand — but be discerning.

Do we have to fear the darkness? Should we shy away and not discuss it? No! God has overcome it. His light blinds out the dark like the headlights of the oncoming cars on the deserted country road. We must be wise, but confident, that Satan and all His evil ways have been defeated. The debate on that topic is no longer up for discussion. Whether the night can be described as “pitch black dark”? The verdict on that is still up in the air. Feel free to add your vote to that thought in the comments!