Harvest Worship Sunday 20th September
Hymn 732 We plough the field and scatter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccVEjKFkAV4
Winter:The winter of the Lord is a scourging, when excesses are removed and God's people discover dark valleys of problems and fears. Yet God walks with them through all dark places.
Spring:The spring of the Lord is God's gentle breath, when tender new life shows forth in God's people. It is when new blessings and gifts emerge, and we look forward with anticipation.
Summer:The summer of the Lord is life at its height. It is God stretching forth a hand that pulses with generosity. And it is a time for God's people to grow in the power of love.
Autumn:Yet the autumn of the Lord is the scoreboard. The fruit of the life of God's people is revealed. It is thanksgiving and taking stock. Here, now, we see the harvest of our life, and we lift our year in joy –a year that has forged us together. Let us praise God.
Hymn 106 Come ye thankful people come https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf7Z8ukqiok
God of supermarket and farmer, of those who work in mud and in oil, be with us.
God of factory floor and banana plantation, of harvesters and truck drivers, sustain us.
God of tea pickers and sweat shops, of call centres and cowhands, guide our path.
God of those for whom summer kills, and winter brings much needed rain, give us hope.
Guide and give, accompany and sustain, and cause our worship to be part of the harvest you desire from our lives. Amen.
Lord of the harvest, the harvest of people, you need workers. What can I do?
I can try at home, at school, and in my leisure time, to see others as you see them; to welcome them as you welcome them; to love them, as you love them.
Lord of the harvest the harvest of people, you need workers Will I do?
Deuteronomy 26: 1-11. Ezekiel 1: 15-21 John 4: 1-38 Ezekiel 34:23-31
Hymn 486 Now thank we all our God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItfKjxkXhMk
Comment on Bible Readings:
This service is based on comments about the four seasons in our year and how wonderful they all are. Our food is bought to us via wheels and as the world turns so the wheels of commerce turn to provide for us. The tractor wheels, cogs and wheels of factory processing and packaging, 'wheels' of commerce that arrange the gathering and dispersal, trolley wheels when shopping at a supermarket.
AUTUMN - CELEBRATING THE SEASONS
We look first of all at Autumn, the season we are in now. Think about all this food laid out before us, where did we get this from? the supermarket. The cycle of seasons and wheels of world produce, interlock into a complicated arrangement that supply food to and from many parts of the world, both in season and out.
As I was preparing this I came across the following story of ‘Tiago the Tomato and Pete the Potato'
Hi my name is Tiago the Tomato, and I am pleased to meet you. Now my friends and I, we grow on large farms in Portugal, and we have lots of cousins in Spain too. I'm not just a plain old tomato, oh no I am special. I am a ketchup tomato. Yes, when I grow up I'll be made into ketchup, and oh no, not just any old ketchup. I'll be made into famous ketchup! So I am a special 'high yield, high pulp' tomato grown especially for this job. Look how big and strong I am. When I'm juicy, ripe and plump, I'll be ready to be picked and that will be the start of a long journey, and the beginning of a big adventure.
When I've been picked the farmer will pack me and all my friends, all cosy like bugs in rugs, in boxes, ready for us to be shipped to a factory by truck. (Have a tomato box to show.) At the factory we'll all be pulped. Now don't look sad, it doesn't hurt, I won't feel a thing. It's our job you see, it's what we're made for. They squish us and squash us and make us into rich, red tomato paste just like this (show some purée) . All the paste is sent by truck, rail or maybe boat to another factory in Holland. Once we get there, they add vinegar and sugar to make the ketchup. Then they pack all the ketchup into crates and off we go across the channel to the UK and then on to the supermarkets. The people who work in the shop put the ketchup bottles out on the shelves ready for you to buy. Finally your Mum or your Dad comes and buys it, takes it home and pours it on your chips. Now you see just how long the journey is, but do you know that, from the minute a tomato is picked to the minute it's dolloped on your dinner, the whole journey might take only two weeks?
Now I'd like to introduce you to my new friend – Pete the Potato. Say 'Hi' Pete.
Hi, pleased to make your acquaintance. That's quite some story Tiago, you must be very proud. But I'm going to tell you a story about an oven chip. You see there's a lot more to being a chip than being sprinkled with a bit of salt and vinegar. That chip has also been on a long journey. That chip started out just like me – round, dark and handsome! I grew and grew in the ground in the dark for weeks and weeks and weeks – but only because someone planted me there. Then they had to dig me up. Now I'm waiting for the next bit – which will need lots more people. You see, they've got to pack me with other potatoes, drive the truck to the factory, peel us all, trim us, brush us, blanch us, dry us, fry us, de-fat us, cool us, freeze us, bag us, box us, X-ray the box for foreign bodies such as coins or pens, truck us to a distribution plant and finally deliver us – lovely chips that we are – to the supermarket or your favourite fast-food restaurant. Quite some adventure, eh?
The reading from Deuteronomy tells us that we should take the first of each crop and you must take it to the place of worship, you must go to the priest and say to him ‘I now acknowledge to the Lord my God that I have entered the land that he promised our ancestors to give to us.’ The very first thing that we should do is to thank God for the good gifts that he has given to us. We must acknowledge that everything we have comes from Him and we must worship him as we thank Him.
WINTER - CELEBRATING OUR INTERCONNECTION
Now winter, Think of a gyroscope and how this helps us to understand our interconnectedness. It is only balanced when the wheels turn properly. Work out how many people have helped to provide us with the things we need for just one day. If just one person in that interconnected circle of activity is oppressed or downtrodden, how does it affect the circle?If we were to stand and hold hands in a circle this is a picture of how our interdependence should work – we each see and appreciate who is in our circle. Now suppose that every second person turns and faces outwards, they hold hands again when they have done so. This is the position if we refuse to look at our interconnectedness. We do not see people's faces; they cannot see ours, and it is difficult to hold hands. Now imagine all except one person turns and look outwards. How isolating for the one who still looks inward, towards each other, but they are looking the other way. This is how it looks for small producers across the globe, those who rely on more highly developed countries and yet are unacknowledged. When they are oppressed and exploited, the circle of interdependence is broken.The reading in Ezekiel shows that God, who cares for and lives among the people, is seated on a throne. God's divine rule extends to the farthest corners of the earth. All are connected through God's majesty and care. But note the reference to the wheels, in Ezekiel’s vision he sees wheels and creatures shining like diamonds and precious stones and these wheels were intersecting with each other and every time the creature moved so did the wheels. AS this service is looking at wheels it was important that we looked at This passage for more than anything it shows us that God cares for his people, always.
SPRING - CELEBRATING THE WORLD HARVEST
Now onto Spring, God has provided a wonderful harvest for us - look at the display at the front of the Church, let’s see where all this comes from ? -
See the cogs – the spokes of food to us.
But notice that most of our food comes from the within the UK - graph below shows us.
We will share this with others around the world too, so we celebrate the Harvest of the world.
The reading in John’s gospel tells of the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. A conversation about water ensues and Jesus offers her living water, which the woman clearly wants. AS she goes home to the village she tells all the people that she had met the Messiah. But the meaning of the story becomes clear when Jesus tells the disciples about His food, doing the will of God. Jesus then tells the disciples to look at the harvest field , to look at the crops , they are ready and ripe for sowing
and for reaping. Jesus of course wasn't talking about food He was talking about people who were ready to hear the word of God, but who would go forward, who would speak to these people, who would literally draw in the harvest of these people. This is the harvest that Jesus talked about, the harvest of souls.
SUMMER - MAINTAINING THE WORLD HARVEST
We must help and support each other with the food that we have, we like a Ferris wheel are all interconnected. If one spoke goes, the wheel collapses, if one country does not work with another then the whole food chain will collapse. We need each other to share and help.
Ezekiel 34 that we in part looked at last week, tells how to maintain the harvest, how to keep in full and wholesome, the answer is Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The field of food needs to be looked after, the people of God need to be looked after.
Food for thought – did you know?
Just four crops provide more than half the dietary energy for the whole world's population – maize, potatoes, rice and wheat.
More of the earth's surface is covered by wheat than any other food crop.
The leading wheat producing countries are China, the Soviet Union, the United States, India, and Canada.
The world's farmers grow enough wheat every year to fill a freight train stretching around the world two-and-one-half times.
Foods made with wheat are a major part of the diet for over a third of the world's people.
Bread production in Britain is now concentrated in only 11 companies.
Chicken production in Britain is concentrated in only 4 companies.
Britain eats 22, 000 tonnes of chips a week.
Northerners are most likely to fry their chips at home, with 28 per cent claiming to cook them from fresh every week. Sixty-one per cent of Southerners say they never cook chips from scratch.
One in four of all British potatoes consumed in Britain are eaten as chips.
Wheels and wheels, the world turns, into seasons, food grows and is picked, the seeds spread again to grow the following years. Today at this one moment in time we give thanks for the Harvest of the world. We give thanks for God’s provision to us. We thank Him for giving us all we need to be able to work in His world for Him. Help us to be farmers to look after the worlds resources and shepherds to look after His people.