Sunday 11th October 2020 – Harvest Thanksgiving

Welcome to our online harvest festival, particularly if this is your first time here. Do get in touch or leave us a comment – we’d love to hear from you.

As usual, you can watch all the service automatically by clicking on the first embedded video, below. Or you can work your way down the page watching each one and reading the text with it.

YouTube playlist – click play and enjoy the whole service

Service written out in full

Welcome and Introduction

Hymn – Come Ye Thankful People Come

Prayers of praise

Loving God, for food so delicious, for taste and for flavour, for feeling hungry and the joy of eating,
We thank and praise you.

Loving God, for all in the food chain, from field to factory, seller to buyer, each one depending on the others,
We thank and praise you.

Loving God, for our beautiful countryside, for crops and animals, fruit and fish, for sunshine and rain,
We thank and praise you. Amen.

Setting the scene

I wonder what harvest means to you – maybe you automatically think of churches decorated with produce of all kinds. Maybe, for you, harvest is something that happens to other people.
But if you are a farmer, you probably think about harvest as a time of long days and hard work, of anxiety about the weather, about the responsibility to provide for your family.
Of course, this year our harvest celebrations have to include an acknowledgement that we are living through a pandemic, that the reasons for not gathering in church include the danger to others of gathering in large numbers. Life as we know it has been very different for the last six months. We are particularly aware of the essential contribution made by people we now know as keyworkers, including farmers and all who work in the food chain.

I’d like to invite you to think more deeply about harvest – both in the traditional sense and more widely. What is the harvest that you are celebrating?
In our garden, we grow things – a few potatoes, some onions, lettuces until they inevitably bolt away, and some fruit. I’m always very pleased when things do grow but, for me, it isn’t a disaster if they don’t – I can rely on the more successful harvests that others have grown.
When I get to the end of the year and think about what my harvest is, it is more likely to be about the people I have spent time with. In my work, the harvest looks like babies baptised, couples married and those who have died laid to rest. I might include things I have made or created and time spent learning new skills.
What is your harvest? How have you grown this year? Who are the people you have had an impact on this year?

Confession

We confess our sin, and the sins of our society, in the misuse of God’s creation.

God our Father, we are sorry for the times when we have used your gifts carelessly,
and acted ungratefully.
Hear our prayer, and in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We enjoy the fruits of the harvest,
but sometimes forget that you have given them to us.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We belong to a people who are full and satisfied, but ignore the cry of the hungry.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We are thoughtless, and do not care enough for the world you have made.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

We store up goods for ourselves alone,
as if there were no God and no heaven.
Father, in your mercy:
forgive us and help us.

Silence

May almighty God, who sent his Son into the world to save sinners, bring us his pardon and peace, now and for ever. Amen.

Reading:

2 Corinthians 9:6-end – read by Fiona from Crayke

Hymn – God is working his purpose out

Reading:

Luke 12:16-30 – read by Florence

Sermon – The Revd Liz Hassall

Harvest is a twofold activity – it is a celebration, and act of thanksgiving and worship, recognising the hard work that has gone into bringing home the harvest, and producing it in the first place, and thanking God for the blessings of sun, rain, fertility and safety. It is also a time of sharing, an act of joining together as a community, of thinking of those with less than ourselves.

There is a phrase – we are all in the same boat. It has been used this year to imply that everyone is being affected by worldwide events. However, it is more accurate to say that, while we are all facing the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. We have all experienced 2020 differently – whether our jobs are secure, whether our families are affected by illness, whether we have been furloughed or working extra hours, whether we are medically vulnerable, whether we are lonely or surrounded by people, whether we or our children have been home-schooled or at school.

I hope that, whatever your circumstances, you are able to give thanks for something today. I also hope that you do not have to be anxious about the future, but I know that some of you will be.

In our gospel reading, Jesus tells the story of someone who seemed to be succeeding in life. Someone who had grown so many crops that they had nowhere to store them. This person’s answer to the solution was to build bigger barns, which turns out to be the wrong thing to do. What did Jesus think they should have done instead? Well, the implication is that they should have given the surplus to God, presumably so it could then be passed on to those whose harvest was not so abundant.

When you have worked hard, whether in the fields, gardens and allotments, or in the office, factory or laboratory, the temptation to keep our ‘harvests’ for ourselves and those closest to us is strong. The ‘harvest’ this year may be good, but what about the lean years? We all need to have a little stored up in our barns for the times when the crops have failed, or a nest egg to cover the roof falling in, the children’s education, our retirement. However, Jesus warns us against this fear of failure to provide for our own.

Jesus encouraged us only to pray for our daily bread; when the Israelites wandered the wilderness, God provided Manna enough for each day. When we store up so much food we cut ourselves off from the rest of our community. If we have enough food in our barns to last a lifetime, we no longer need to work in the fields with the rest of our communities. We will not stand shoulder to shoulder as we bring in the harvest, we will not celebrate together at the end of the gathering in. There is no togetherness in the lean years or the fat years, because we have bunkered ourselves down with our abundant harvest isolated from the rest of our community. We become recluses of wealth.

We also become isolated from God: as we withdraw from a need for God’s provision, we find ourselves removed from a place in which we can receive God’s love too. This is not what God wishes for us, indeed this goes against God’s plan for humanity, for the whole of God’s creation.

Jesus says do not worry. You might want to say to him, “Not worry? All very well for you back in the day. Have you seen what we are going through this year?” Well yes, Jesus does indeed know what we are going through and, whatever you are going through this year, he would still say “do not worry”. Nothing has changed – there are people in the world whose lives are precarious, but the love of God surrounds them, surrounds us and that love which God has for us is stronger and more powerful and enduring than anything else we know.

God knows what we need and he knows our capacity to work for it. He knows when we need help from someone else, when the community needs to pull together to help those in need. He knows where the surplus needs to go of those with abundant harvests.

So harvest, which has been celebrated from the very beginning of creation, re-connects us with God in thanksgiving, even in the lean years, the years when the weather has been unfair, the work back breaking and the yield low, because we are still here, and God still loves us.; and harvest re-connects us with our neighbours, the communities we live in and those far away, as we look at whatever the harvests yielded this year, and choose to share it. Each of us has a choice to make – to hoard our ‘harvest’ or to celebrate and share it. For those of us who choose to share it though, we will discover that in the sharing we are enfolded in God’s love.

Declaration of faith

Do you believe and trust in God the Father,
source of all being and life,
the one for whom we exist?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Son,
who took our human nature,
died for us and rose again?
We believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God
and makes Christ known in the world?
We believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith. We believe and trust in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Music – All things bright and beautiful

Prayers

The response to the prayers is:
Lord of all …
hear our prayer

Let us offer our prayers to God for the life of the world
and for all God’s people in their daily life and work.
God, the beginning and end of all things,
in your providence and care
you watch unceasingly over all creation;
we offer our prayers
that in us and in all your people your will may be done,
according to your wise and loving purpose in Christ our Lord.
Lord of all life:
hear our prayer.

We pray for all through whom we receive sustenance and life;
for farmers and agricultural workers,
for packers, distributors and company boards;
as you have so ordered our life that we depend upon each other,
enable us by your grace to seek the well-being of others before
our own.
Lord of all creation:
hear our prayer

We pray for all engaged in research to safeguard crops against disease,
and to produce abundant life among those who hunger
and whose lives are at risk.
Prosper the work of their hands
and the searching of their minds,
that their labour may be for the welfare of all.
Lord of all wisdom:
hear our prayer.

We pray for governments and aid agencies,
and those areas of the world where there is disaster, drought
and starvation and for all working to combat the threat of Covid-19.
By the grace of your Spirit,
touch our hearts
and the hearts of all who live in comfortable plenty,
and make us wise stewards of your gifts.
Lord of all justice:
hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are ill,
remembering those in hospital and nursing homes
and all who are known to us.
We pray for all who care for them.
Give skill and understanding
to all who work for their well-being.
Lord of all compassion:
hear our prayer.

We remember those who have died,
whom we entrust to your eternal love
in the hope of resurrection to new life.
We remember this week Sue, Mavis and Jean.
Lord of all peace:
hear our prayer.

We offer ourselves to your service,
asking that by the Spirit at work in us
others may receive a rich harvest of love and joy and peace.
Lord of all faithfulness:
hear our prayer.

God of grace,
as you are ever at work in your creation,
so fulfil your wise and loving purpose in us
and in all for whom we pray,
that with them and in all that you have made,
your glory may be revealed
and the whole earth give praise to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Eternal God,
you crown the year with your goodness
and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season:
grant that we may use them to your glory, for the relief of those in need and for our own well-being;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power
and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn – We plough the fields

Sending out prayer

God of life and love,
we offer you our thanks and praise in this season of Harvest.
We thank you that you are Creator and Provider,
the source of all goodness.
We thank you for the sunshine and the rain,
for the land and the soil.
We thank you for the miracle of fertility and growth,
for the rhythm of nature and life.
We thank you for crops and livestock, farmers and growers.
We thank you for our calling to be co-creators with you
and we pray especially for all who share with you
in the task of growing and supplying the food we eat.
God of life and love,
we offer you our thanks and praise. Amen.

Blessing

God our creator, who clothes the lilies and feeds the birds of the air, bestow on you his care and increase the harvest of your righteousness and the blessing of God Almighty; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you now and always.
Amen

Freely you have received, freely give.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
in the name of Christ. Amen.

Hymn – Now thank we all our God

Copyright Notices

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Common Worship, material from which is included in this service, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council.

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