Lammas on the Farm
No, we have not gotten llamas. 😊
Lammas is the name of an ancient harvest festival. Traditionally celebrated on August 1 when the grain is ready to be cut, it is also called the feast of first fruits. Celtic Christians (among others) would make bread from the first harvest’s grains. Then the first loaves would be taken to the church to be blessed. Like a tithe, this ritual recognizes that all which sustains us comes from God.
For while ours are the hands that plant the seed and reap the harvest it is God’s hand that offers the rain, commands the sun, and breathes life into the soil. Without the harmony of these elements, the saved seeds from previous year’s harvests could not produce the daily bread that satisfies our hunger.
Lammas is a time to remember and reconnect to this cycle of planting and harvesting – to recognize that our human life is part of, not separate from, the natural world - to give thanks for the farmworkers, millers, and bakers without whom there would be no daily bread.
Lammas is not a holiday that I knew as a child. But, growing up on a farm, I did know that harvest was the busiest of times for farmers. Everyone had a part to play and the dust of the road was constantly stirred up by the combines, trucks, and wagons traveling from field to grain elevator. The workday was from dawn to dusk or more accurately from “can until can’t.”
Lammas recognizes the seasons when the harvest is ready. It knows the urgency of now for all who play a role in the feeding of others. When the time presents itself, the work must be done - before rains or pests come and wipe everything out. Even for those who do not consider themselves to be farmers, a Christian life of service to others can also have seasons of busy-ness and hurrying to get the job done. We each have seasons of harvest, when we see the completion of part of the work we’re called to do.
In the midst of this hard work, when our backs ache from the long days of gathering the grain, it is to the one who says “I am the bread of life“ that we offer these first fruits. We ask God’s blessings on them from the Lord of the harvest and give thanks for the hope that is offered from small seeds whose offering of themselves only produces more fruit.