As a culture, perhaps even as the human race, we like a sense of completion don’t we. We like an ending .. a happy ending of course .. we like things to be tied up and concluded.
It’s a bit of a Hollywood ideal I suppose. The guy gets the girl .. good triumphs over evil .. the bully gets what’s coming to them. We like things to work out in the end.
I want to tell you the story of a young man rushed to hospital with heart block at the age of 35. He had 3 very young daughters and a wife who wasn’t very well at all. He had worked very hard in the previous few years to make a new business start paying its way and employing around 14 people. He had an incredible sense of responsibility and of possibilities for the future.
And as I lay on my hospital bed in the brand new heart and lung department of New Cross Hospital I thought to myself .. well this can’t be how it ends surely .. I was being slightly melodramatic but I was scared.
In thought to myself .. things are not neatly tied up in the say I would hope them to be at the end of my time here on earth. The circle is by no means closed .. I have so much more to say and do and achieve. The novel I always wanted to write .. the deep and profound wisdom of my 35 years experience which I wanted to pass on to my children .. the love and support I wanted to continue to give to my wife in the years ahead .. the friends I had been meaning to meet up with for so long but not got around to it .. the places I had not yet visited .. the sports events I hadn’t yet been to .. the list goes on.
This was not the Hollywood ending I expected. It was distressing. And it took me a long time, once I had been given a pacemaker and sent on my way with some beta-blockers and advice for stress free living, a long time to process the fact that no-one ever has the Hollywood ending we imagine because death is in fact never a conclusion as such. In a very strange sense death is never the end. It is certainly not the end for those who are left behind … and our Christian hope is that it is not the end for us either. But this does mean we don’t ever get that deep sense that the story is completed in the way we might perhaps expect or certainly hope for.
This morning I wanted to draw your attention to the lesson Harvest teaches us about endings and completion. For the truth is that we do of course celebrate the completion of a harvest safely gathered in at this time. We give thanks that what has been planted has been fruitful and that our work has been rewarded.
But when we have gathered in the harvest and stored what we need for the coming winter months .. our thoughts soon turn to beyond this and to the next cycle. We soon need to start thinking about what is planted next. The Harvest is only ever for a time .. before we acknowledge that there is more to do and another summer to come .. what fruit will this yield with the lessons learned and experience gained from what has already taken place?
For some this might seem like a terrible message .. you work is never done .. the rest never comes .. but I think on reflection it is a wonderful message for us to embrace. There is always another horizon and so there is never that deep sense of loss that we did not achieve all we could have .. that the end is a tragedy and not a Divine comedy. There is no final tragedy for the young man lying on a hospital because there is always a future. An end is only ever limited whether in life or in death. There is always another Harvest to plant for and fruit to be enjoyed. May we always embrace the Harvest message of a future .. whether in this world or the next .. life goes on ./. For us for our world for those we love and pray for .. there is always another season to delight in!