Yesterday our rector John Leech finished his sermon with a story about how he and his wife Sarah gleaned apples in an orchard last year. He finished with the comment – They were some of the most delicious apples I have tasted.
It started me thinking about the whole concept of gleaning. When I think of gleaning I usually think of the leftovers, those parts of the harvest that most people don’t want because they are misshapen, bruised or too ripe to transport to market. We willingly give them away because they are of no commercial use. But as John and Sarah discovered in that orchard those are often the best tasting fruit there is.
So I wonder do we have it all wrong? Is the best part of the harvest that which is taken to market or that which is left for the poor? Are the gleanings the tastiest and most nutritious part of what our fields and orchards produce?
I think that God often feeds the marginalized with the richest of food, the best tasting crops, the manna in the desert that is the food of angels and we don’t even notice. We think that because we give leftovers God does too. In fact many of us feel that God gives all of us leftovers and hangs onto the best for a special chosen few.
Our God is a generous God who welcomes all of us to a lavish banquet of rich food and wonderful wine. This morning as I thought about this I had a wonderful vision of the banquet feast spread out under a canopy of fruit trees their branches hanging with ripe delicious fruit – the gleanings – too ripe to send to market but just right for picking and eating. And I can imagine all the participants at that banquet laughing and joking together as they climb the trees to pick the rich, ripe fruit. I can see the juice running down arms and staining mouths. And I can smell the fragrance as we all bite into those apples and figs and mangos. What a wonderful feast it will be.
Which brings me to another thought: What imagery comes to mind when you think of God’s banquet feast?