Church of England Diocese of Leeds Kirkby Ravensworth

A HARVEST SERMON FROM Rev Antony for St. Luke's Day 18th October 2020

Harvest, St Luke’s Day.

Reading, Luke 10:1-9

Today we celebrate the life of St Luke the evangelist and we also give thanks for the harvest, not just of the crop but of the soul.

It’s interesting that Luke records in his Gospel the importance Jesus places on the harvest not just of the field but of our soul.

Jesus is recorded as saying there is nothing as important as the “harvest!”

No doubt we all recognise that without the harvest everyone’s lives are in potential jeopardy.

Weather from a “farming background” or not, we recognise that there are few things more important to the farmer than the gathering of a good harvest.

At the beginning of the year we were all thankful for the glorious weather, but for the farmers this could have been a disaster, the crops needed water and the fields were dry.

One farmer wrote in one of the farming magazines that the previous Autumn had been wet and now when the spring needed the moisture there was none, he was so disillusioned that he wrote if God taps me on the shoulder and promises a harvest for summer 2020 I will pat his hand off with pleasure. And as it turns out the harvest has been reasonably good. This just shows the trust the farmers have in God’s provision

Everything the farmer does – ploughing, planting and tending to the crop – all focus on preparing anticipating and safely bringing in the largest harvest possible! Not just for their own benefit but so that humanity does not go hungry.

In the same way the whole earthly ministry of Jesus was about “bringing in the harvest of soul, bringing each one of us into the relationship of God’s love.

Jesus’ preaching and teaching focused on bringing the message of the Father’s love to everyone so they could flourish and live life to the full in a relationship with God.

Forgiveness and salvation came through Jesus. Jesus accomplished the redemption of mankind through his own death on the cross, he died so we could reap the harvest which sustains and nourishes life.

To assist in the proclamation of this life-giving message, Jesus had called and sent the twelve Apostles, and in the reading today he was calling and sending seventy others into the harvest field, bringing this Good News of God’s love to people in towns and villages everywhere.

In biblical times the number 70 represented the nations of the world. So here Jesus is sending 70 to gather all people from across the world into his love and care. In the same way the farmer gathers his crop for the harvest.

Jesus “sent them two-by-two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.’”

Jesus didn’t want them to waste time with “excessive preparations” or to be “side tracked” by distractions. He wanted them to go quickly and to trust completely on God’s protection and provision.

Jesus gave those who went, the authority to preach and teach he gave them authority to heal the sick and change peoples lives in ways that enabled them to live in relationship with God.

If they came to places where they were unwelcomed by people who were unwilling to hear the message of salvation, these disciples were to pronounce judgment and were to “wipe the dust of that town off their feet”

So they prepared the way for Jesus, who was soon to come among them.

The message then from Jesus was about reaping the harvest “The Most Precious Harvest” – the harvest of souls!

Jesus is sending each one of us into the harvest field He doesn’t want us to delay; to get “bogged down” in preparation! He sends us out as individuals, as couples, as families and as a church into the fields which are ready for harvest.

So as we think of harvest we begin to think how we might be used by God.

Where do I fit into the story of the harvest and it’s gathering is Jesus sending me into the harvest field.

Where does Jesus want me to carry the gospel, the good news of Jesus that nourishes and sustains life?

With who might I share the love of God this week. Who is it that I know who needs God’s love at this time? When was the last time I shared my faith in Christ with someone else;

like John the Baptist we are each called to prepare the way of the Lord.

The time to harvest is now or never. In this reading we begin to see that there is a time limit. Crops are only good for a period of time then they rot and fall off the vine. There is a time factor involved at the time of harvest,

We are commissioned by Christ to go and preach the Gospel to those around us. We are to be bold and faithful as these disciples were. We are to speak to people about sin, repentance, and God’s Kingdom.

And if we are prepared to do that then the harvest can be great but we are reminded in this reading that in order for the harvest to be great we have to pray for those who are sent into the field.

we are those who are sent as labourers to bring in the harvest and it’s my prayer that together we may share our faith so that like the farmer who wrote in the farming magazine we can tap the hand of Jesus with thanks as we see the harvest gathered into the safety of God’s love.

Amen.