Gathering God’s Harvest: The Granary
At the southern end of the San Antonio Mission Trail is the oldest of the Texas missions, the Misión San Francisco de la Espada. Founded nearly 340 years ago in East Texas, the mission was moved to the banks of the San Antonio River in 1731.
Prominent in the layout of the mission campus — in fact the largest stone building in the complex — is the granary. Corn, beans, peaches, melons, and other foodstuffs were stored there. These foods provided for the resident community within the mission, of course; but I was moved to learn that the granary also generated rations for sharing with the surrounding indigenous population, including, specifically, widows.
We can identify in this arrangement a pattern of the church for every time and place and type — whether Roman Catholic frontier religious practice in the 1700s or United Methodist urban religious practice in the 21st century: grain for us . . . grain for others. Our life together in Christ is a slow and steady widening of our world. We grow from thinking mainly of self-provision to an increasing understanding of our lives as an offering to God, an offering best fulfilled through giving, serving, and providing for others. Gathering God’s harvest is a call to share the gift of abundance with both the gathered church and the world beyond.
October has been for us a month of reflecting on our life practices of financial giving — the purposeful choices we make to give to the Laurel Heights ministries that unfold in our facilities, in the community, and in the world — grain for us . . . grain for others. We have discovered shalom, gratitude, trust, and joy as collateral gifts that accompany our own faithful giving.
Paying the light bill, as it turns out, does not only keep the lights on, it also carries that light into the world, a world that waits in all its need and promise to encounter the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ through the people of Laurel Heights. Further, I believe paying the light bill does one thing more — it illumines our own hearts — lights us from within with the sort of joy that comes from having discovered the deepest purpose and reward for our hard-earned treasure.
Just a few miles above the trailhead of the San Antonio Mission Trail is a church called Laurel Heights, a congregation with its own granary of sorts. There God’s harvest has been gathered, multiplied, and shared each year for over a century; in this season it will be once again. May we be faithful in the joyful work of sharing its abundance.
Grace and peace.