Sunday Reflection

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.

Matthew 6:31-33

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
   the livelihood
   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..'

Philippians 4:19

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

Giving thanks;
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.