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Reaping and sowing

Students are encouraged to consider the way that academic achievements are based on careful preparation.

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


Students are encouraged to consider the way that academic achievements are based on careful preparation.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a variety of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables.


  1. In the agricultural communities of the northern hemisphere this is harvest time. Indicate the display of fruit and veg. Fruit, vegetables and grain crops will be cut and stored for the winter ahead. There will be singing, dancing, eating and drinking because the season has been a success and there’s little chance of starvation through the winter.

  2. At least that’s how it used to be, before the invention of the fridge and freezer, before crops were chilled and airlifted across the globe so we could have strawberries and grapes in January, parsnips and sprouts in July. That’s how it used to be before canning and processing enabled us to stockpile fish and meat to consume at our leisure.

  3. So what’s the point of remembering the harvest? I think there are two reasons why it’s useful to continue with harvest traditions.

    The first is about contentment. We’re bombarded daily with advertising that aims to make us discontent. We’re offered new and exciting products to make us look better, feel better and enjoy our life more. We’re given the impression that our life as it is now is lacking some vital ingredient. We’re persuaded to feel discontented. Harvest encourages us to stop and count what is good and satisfying in our lives. It encourages us to focus on what we have rather than on what we don’t have. It starts with the plentiful supply of food and drink in the shops and then encourages us to widen our focus to take in the technology, the people, the opportunities that surround us. Harvest encourages contentment.
  4. The second reason for continuing with harvest traditions is because it reminds us of the way that life is a continuous process. The quality of the harvest depends on what has been done earlier. The ground will need preparation: ploughing and fertilizing of the fields creates a suitable environment into which the best-quality seed is planted. Careful weeding, watering and feeding encourage the germination and growth of the seeds into young plants. Sunshine and warm weather help the fruit and seeds to ripen ready for harvesting.
  5. Jesus used the image of this process to teach about ways to live our lives. He talked about the way the same seed can produce a different harvest, depending on the quality of the soil into which it’s planted. He suggested that this was like the way we respond differently to the advice and teaching we’re given. We might ignore it, forget it, become discouraged by it or benefit from it. He talked about the way an unfriendly neighbour might throw some weed seeds into our carefully prepared beds, reminding us of the way other people can distract us from our targets. He talked of the way that a grape vine needs to be pruned in order to encourage a good crop, showing that some sacrifice might be necessary if we are to reach our full potential.
  6. In school, September – the harvest month – is also the start of the process, at least in educational terms. It’s now that we can get the work/leisure/life balance right, guard against distractions, which could be people or other activities, and organize ourselves to meet the deadlines that we’re going to face. Maybe we even need to make some short-term sacrifices to make a long-term gain. If we prepare correctly now, and this school plants the best-quality seeds of learning, which I’m sure we will, then hopefully next summer there’ll be some impressive results, the consequences of your preparations. It’ll be a harvest worth celebrating.

Time for reflection


Spend a moment considering the following thoughts. You may wish to turn them into a prayer:

Be thankful for the opportunities for success in sport, performance, academic subjects and any other aspect of school life that you enjoy.

Be sorry for the failures over the past year that happened because you didn’t do the right preparation.

Make a plan to take some action that arises out of today’s assembly. Have the courage to do something that will make a difference.


‘Play the track ‘Harvest for the World’ by The Christians.

Publication date: September 2008   (Vol.10 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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