4th October 2020
'when prayers are answered at harvest ...'
31 "So do not worry, saying,
'What shall we eat?' or
What shall we drink?' or
'What shall we wear?'
32 For the pagans run after all these things,
and your heavenly Father knows
that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom
and his righteousness,
and all these things
will be given to you as well.
Rogation time (April)
is a good time to pray for good harvest;
to walk round the fields
or by the sea shore
and get into contact
with God through
his wonderful creation;
and when prayers answered at harvest,
we need to recognise
God's provision and thank him.
We're good at asking
but not so good at saying 'thank you';
we tend to take things for granted;
accept things as a right not privilege.
So -- Harvest time is a time
for remembering to give thanks:
¤ for our food -
which is more abundant and varied
than at perhaps any other time
in human history.
We never have food shortages -
the shelves of the supermarkets
are always well stocked.
(Except in panic buying due to Corona virus!)
It wasn't always like this,
as those who were alive
in the war and before
can no doubt remember.
¤ for our farmers and fishermen -
those who work in hard
and dangerous conditions
to produce our food.
Farming and fishing have traditionally
been a way of life and not just a job -
and this way of life is,
for many farmers and fishermen,
under threat as perhaps never before.
Suicide among farmers
is one of the highest of all
professions in the country.
Our thoughts and prayers
must be with all those
livelihood is precarious,
and those who see no alternative
but to give up.
¤ For the modern agricultural
and fisheries systems
from which we all benefit.
Elderly farmers and fishermen
talk about the times when
mechanisation was still rare,
when far more work had to be done
by hand and by far more people
than are needed today.
Good times, perhaps -
but often hard times.
Farming and fishing
in many parts of the world
including much of Africa,
still relies very much on
large numbers of labourers
carrying out the tasks by hand.
In many developing countries
tractors and other forms of
agricultural machinery are scarce.
Animals are often used for hauling loads.
The labour-saving machinery
which is available to us
is certainly not affordable
to more than a minority
of the world's farmers and fishermen.
Harvest time is also a time for
remembering to use the earth's resources
wisely and sustainably.
¤ 'sustainability' is a word that's being
applied to more and more
aspects of life today -
including agriculture and fishing.
It reflects an attempt to make sure
that what we do today
will not jeopardise
of generations to come.
How much of our food do we waste
and throw away
when there are so many starving?
Harvest time is also a time
for remembering to share the fruits of the earth.
There is much in the world of today
which actively encourages
self-interest and the pursuit
of one's own advantage above all else.
It wasn't always like this;
maybe harvest time is an opportunity
for trying afresh to get
the balance right between providing
for oneself and one's dependents,
and building a world
which is based on mutual support
and help for those in genuine need,
rather than on materialism and greed.
Harvest time is also a time
for remembering that God sows
spiritual seeds in our hearts,
and wants them to bear
an abundant harvest.
Jesus tells us that earthly food
is transient, and we should
seek the food that lasts for ever -
the spiritual food
which he offers to those
who believe in him,
and follow his ways.
By worrying we focus on ourselves,
cutting ourselves off from God's goodness.
When we worry that our needs
won't be met it shows a lack of faith in God. Paul writes,
"My God will supply all your needs,
according to his riches
in glory in Christ Jesus..'
Worry is all about control -
but Christian life is about
giving control over to God.
Peace comes from knowing that
He will take care of us, as he has promised
using the fruits of the earth sustainably;
sharing them fairly;
seeking the kind of spiritual harvest which will produce lives
which are governed by God's will.
These are the ways in which God
invites us to celebrate
our harvest festival today.
Some people say that the concept
of the harvest festival is outdated,
and of little relevance to the Church
and the world.
I hope we can see that our celebration
of God's harvest is just as
relevant today as when
the idea of the harvest festival
was first conceived.