Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion: Erntedankfest

The Baptismal Font at St. Trinitatisgemeinde, Leipzig on Sunday, October 6 during Erntedankfest.

The Baptismal Font at St. Trinitatisgemeinde, Leipzig on Sunday, October 6 during Erntedankfest.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift (2 Corinthians 9:6-15 ESV)!

On this past Sunday, we entered our German congregation to find a beautifully bedecked altar. Even the Baptismal Font was decorated. Members had brought wheat, squash, pumpkins, jams, apples, grapes, and much more, placing them beautifully on the altar and arranging them on the font. It was the celebration called Erntedankfest. Perhaps a bit like the American Thanksgiving (but without the turkey eating), Erntedankfest is a festival in which Christians give thanks for the bountiful goodness of God as shown forth in the harvest. After the service, many members shared a meal together with many of these elements incorporated. They had laid these gifts of God out on the altar in thanks, giving back to God what He has first given to them.

The altar area decorated for Erntedankfest.

The altar area decorated for Erntedankfest.

The readings for the day also highlight another aspect: God gives us our daily bread so that we may live, but also that we may give to others in need. In this passage from 2 Corinthians, the Epistle lesson for the day, Paul is speaking to the Corinthians about the gift they had promised towards helping the Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering. Paul notes that the Corinthians have been blessed by God with “sufficiency” so that they may “abound in every good work.” He is not here having to exhort them to giving, for they already are planning and have promised to give. They have begun the collection, and Paul is getting ready to send the Macedonians to them to see their generosity for the saints. In their generosity, though, is seen ultimately God’s generosity to us, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their submission to giving comes from their confession of that Gospel.

Even as we give thanks for all that God has given us, we become instruments by which God provides for others. Sometimes, we are the people on the receiving end of such gifts, and what a confirmation that is of God’s grace, mercy and providing hand. As missionaries, we experience the generosity of God’s people every day as you support our work with your prayers and gifts. In your loving generosity, you show forth Jesus to us and confirm God’s loving-kindness and provision. When we travel on Home Service, the outpouring of love and support is overwhelming. People of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, you are a true testament to the glory of God and we give Him thanks and praise because of His generous provision in and through you. Thank you!

Paul ends by saying “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” I think this gift, in the singular, is the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, dead and raised for us. Through Him, God provides in a variety of ways for our every need. Ultimately all of us, whether we are those who are blessed to give, or those who are blessed to receive are receivers of the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ FOR us. May God grant that we receive His gifts in humble thanksgiving and joy.

Let us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, even as You provide for our every daily need, You also provided for our ultimate need of salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that we may show forth Your ultimate gift in our lives, whether by service to others or by accepting the service of others to us in Your Name; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

  • Did you miss last week’s devotion? You can read it here.
  • Give thanks to God for the people in your life who have shown forth His generosity and love.
  • Looking for more ways to help others? The LCMS recently published a new article about the work in Africa with regard to the Ebola outbreak. To learn more and to give, click here.
  • From all of our missionaries to all of you: Thank you for showing us God’s love in Christ through your prayers, words of encouragement, and gifts. We give thanks for you!

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One Response to “Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion: Erntedankfest”

  1. Richard says:

    Thank for the pictures and description. I am glad they still offer Thanks to God in such traditional and direct manner. No change in at least the last 60 years of memories.

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