|La Paye des Moissonneurs by Léon Augustin Lhermitte|
Someday I would love to have a large scale copy of this painting...a daily reminder to act upon the goodness and provision of God.
In it is shown the whole circuit of life–from the plump baby feeding at the mother's breast to the old grandfather, his arms strong and sinewed from a life of toil and labor. There is the basic multi-generational aspect–from the old man to the young man and his wife to the baby. There is also the sense of community, typified by the man in the center with back turned and scythe over his shoulder: family community, local neighborhood community, and–I would add–church community, brothers and sisters in Christ–our fellow laborers. As to the paymasters themselves, I haven’t yet decided whether they would be angels or rather us as God’s people co-ruling His creation.
That interesting point aside, we come to the whole time and season in which this painting is set–harvest. Harvest language of course, runs all through God's story, popping out again and again at key points. Christ is the first-fruits–the first-born from the dead. We are a harvest; the fruit of our hands is a harvest; the world is a harvest. And all of this harvest happens through faithful toil and dying–“...assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24)
And now for the thing I find extraordinarily exciting, the shade of their clothes–particularly the blue tones running from the old man's socks to the woman's overdress to the blouses of the paymasters (and trousers in the case of the man on the right). I'm sure blue is absolutely authentic and was probably their regular dye color, but (apart from the fact that I love blue and think the whole color scheme of this painting would coordinate beautifully in a living room) blue is also the color of constancy and fidelity.
From conception to the death of His people to the final harvest–the resurrection from the dead when the kernels of grain will spring up anew–God is constant and faithful, pouring out His lovingkindness and care always, even to the other side of death, and promising for all our labor and toil and daily dying a goodly reward and abundant fruit.