by Dale Reeves
Yesterday I flipped the page on the family calendar that hangs on the left side of our refrigerator at Mamaw’s house (as our grandsons refer to it!). I love this calendar because it was a gift from one of our daughters last Christmas. Each month features photos from the past year that show some of the family fun we enjoyed in that particular month. Our September page depicts photos of a family wedding I performed last year as well as a trip to a pumpkin patch with our grandsons. I chuckle every time I look at the picture of our oldest grandson Luke who is getting squeezed by me on an inflatable horse as we tried to get to the finish line before his dad Adam and his Uncle Dan.
Ah, September. Did you know that it’s the most popular month to be born in? September has nine out of ten of the most popular birthdates. September 9 is the most popular date of all. I was born the day after that. It must have something to do with those cold winter nights! Not only is it the month with the most letters, its nine letters also equal its position in the calendar, the ninth month of the year. But it wasn’t always that way. “September” comes from the Latin septem, meaning “seven.” In the original Roman calendar, it was the seventh of ten months, prior to January and February being added by the alleged second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius.
In 1960, a song was featured in the off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks. “Try to Remember” was originally performed by the show’s lead actor, Jerry Orbach, who went on to play Baby’s dad in Dirty Dancing some years later. This nostalgic song encouraged the audience to use their memories and imaginations to take them back to simpler times.
“Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow;
Try to remember the kind of September when grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September when you were a tender and callow fellow;
Try to remember and if you remember then follow, follow . . .”
Follow what? Those good memories, if you have them.
Try to Remember
Well, when I was a “callow fellow,” it meant that we would be heading back to school after Labor Day (that’s right, kids, after Labor Day, and not a day sooner!) Shopping for school supplies and new clothes never really thrilled me, but I had to participate in this yearly ritual. September meant that dusk would be setting in sooner, so we would not be able to stay outside as long. My brother Steve and I would still be playing whiffle ball and rooting on the Big Red Machine for about another month as the National League pennant race and World Series were drawing closer.
What I loved most about September then is still what I love most about September now. The steamy dog days of August are mostly gone. The weather is great for taking long walks in the woods, as the leaves are beginning to change color. And it’s perfect for Friday night football games under the lights, and Saturday afternoon college football. And, because September signals the end of one season and the beginning of another, with transitions in school, personal, and work life, it lends itself to great songwriting. There are at least twenty songs that have September in their titles. Of course, my favorite has always been the dance-funk hit “September” that was released by the band Earth, Wind & Fire during my college years.
“Ba-dee-ya, say, do you remember?
Ba-dee-ya, dancin’ in September,
Ba-dee-ya, never was a cloudy day . . .”
Time to Harvest
A full moon in September is known as the Harvest Moon, which is closest to the autumnal equinox, which is the beginning of fall in astronomy. It usually occurs in September, but every three years, it is in the month of October. This year, look for the Harvest Moon to appear just after sunset on Friday, September 9. It will reach its peak illumination at 5:58 am Eastern Time on September 10, two days after making a close approach to Saturn. It is also sometimes referred to as the Barley Moon or Corn Moon, because these crops are at their highest in September and are harvested in the early fall.
To farmers and gardeners, September is harvest month. Many fruits and vegetables are at their peak. No wonder farmers’ markets are always so packed in September! Some of the best crops to harvest this month are onions, apples, raspberries, green beans, and tomatoes.
Jesus wasn’t talking about the Harvest Moon when he said these words:
“I have a kind of food you know nothing about. . . . My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest” (John 4:32, 34, 35, NLT).
Jesus had just had a dramatic encounter with a woman of Samaria when she had come to Jacob’s well to draw water in the middle of the day. Jesus’ disciples had gone into the town of Sychar to buy food. Because Jesus sowed the seed of compassion into the heart of the Samaritan woman, she ran into the town to tell everyone that she had met a man who knew everything about her. Then Jesus spoke about the harvest with his followers. He was speaking about a spiritual harvest. The disciples did not know that he and the woman had already sowed the seed, and they would be reaping the harvest over the next several days.
The Gospel of John tells us that the entire village of Sychar went out of the city to find Jesus based on the woman’s testimony about him, and they urged him to stay with them for two more days. It’s likely that Jesus and his followers were standing near a wheat field at the time, as the crowd approached Jesus to investigate his claims for themselves. It didn’t take four months for the harvest to be ripe; it only took a matter of a few hours.
As you enjoy this month of September, as you sing the songs of this month in your head, as you head out on a Saturday to a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, or an apple festival with family members or friends, ask yourself the question: “Where is there a ripe harvest in my sphere of influence that God is calling me to reap?” Perhaps God is simply calling you to be faithful in sowing seeds of love and compassion in others’ lives. Or maybe because of other seeds that have been sown (either by you, or someone else), their hearts are now ripe for the good news of Jesus Christ. Open your eyes. There’s work to be done. Never underestimate the power of the life-changing seed of God’s good news. The fields are ripe for harvest for the cause of Christ!