‘Harvest Festival’ – 4th October 2020


Here you will find a link to this week's order of service in PDF form

20 10 04 Harvest Order of Service 20 10 04 Harvest Order of Service


Here you will find a link to the order of service in Word form

20 10 04 Harvest Order of Service

The Readings

2 Corinthians 9.6-15

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written,
‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures for ever.’

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 for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Luke 12.16-30

Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’

He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
by Canon Dr Alan Billings

Harvest is one of those seasons when Christian people so easily slide into sheer sentimentality when thinking about the natural world. The trap is set for us by many of our Harvest hymns.

All things bright and beautiful
all creatures great and small
all things wise and wonderful
the Lord God made them all.
                            Cecil Frances Alexander

I don’t know how much of the natural world is bright and beautiful, wise and wonderful, but not all of it is. The poet William Blake reminds us of another side to nature in his poem The Tyger. The tiger is no doubt a beautiful and bright creature, but hardly friendly towards other creatures.

When Blake thinks about the tiger in the forest of the night – its sheer sinewy ferocity - it makes him ask the question, What kind of a God made you?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Blake reminds us that nature can be red in tooth and claw. And if nature includes the tiger as well as the lamb it also includes cancer and the coronavirus. No adequate doctrine of creation can forget that.

So we shouldn’t be simply sentimental about the natural world.

Nor should we continue with that mindset which leads us all the time to think that the natural world is ours to control, a sort of stage on which the human story is played out, that we can manipulate all the time for our purposes. That is a trap we fall into if we misuse the story of creation in the Book of Genesis.

In that story the first human is told to have dominion over the earth. That can be read in two ways. It has been read to mean that the earth is there for our use and we can manipulate it as we want. That is in part the attitude of the rich man in today’s gospel parable. It leads him to have a false sense of security. But having dominion could also mean that we should treat nature in the same way that a king in ancient Israel was told to have dominion over his people – which meant that the king was to have a pastoral concern for them. Those kings who exercised dominion by exploiting their people were regarded as bad kings. In the same way, those who treat the natural world as if they can do with it what they like are also acting badly.

The present debate about climate change exhibit both of these attitudes. There is something arrogant about the idea that we have broken it so we can fix it. There is something more pastoral about acknowledging that we can behave better towards it. But let us not seek to exercise dominion over the earth with the same kind of hubris with which we wrecked it.

So what then are we to make of today, our harvest festival?

I think harvest calls us to something far simpler than the debates around climate change or food distribution or social justice, important though they may be. It is an invitation to adopt that same attitude of mind that Jesus is commending for his followers in the gospel.

Don’t be anxious about material things. Count your blessings – blessings that include food and drink, but above all life itself. And remember your true status – as creatures that God knows and bothers with.

All of which is summed up in our harvest gifts. They are emblems of our blessings and tokens of God’s love.

The Prayers

From Common Worship: Times and Seasons

Let us pray to God, the Lord of the harvest,
that he will bring to fruition all that he desires for his creation.

Lord of creation,
we see that the fields are ripe for harvesting:
we pray for your Church,
that it may be ready to gather fruit for eternal life.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

You have created the universe by your eternal Word,
and have blessed humankind in giving us dominion over the earth:
we pray for the world,
that we may honour and share its resources,
and live in reverence for the creation
and in harmony with one another.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

Your Son has promised that the Spirit will lead us into all truth:
we pray for the community in which you have set us,
for one another and for ourselves,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

You have given your people a rich land,
yet by sin we have made a world of suffering and sorrow:
we pray for those who bear the weight of affliction,
that they may come to share the life of wholeness and plenty.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

Your Son Jesus Christ is the first-fruits of the resurrection
and will reap the harvest of the dead at the end of time:
we pray that he will gather us all together
with those who have gone before
in the banquet of the age to come.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

Source of all life
and giver of all that is good,
hear our prayers and grant us all that is in accordance with your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is included here,
is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2006 and published by Church House Publishing.