Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Paul Blackheath

A service celebrating Harvest and Creation Sunday 4th October 2020

A service celebrating Harvest and Creation

Gathering and Greeting

God in Christ has revealed his glory.
Come let us worship.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the Lord’s name is greatly to be praised.
Give him praise, you servants of the Lord.
O praise the name of the Lord!

Hymn

Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest-home!
All is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin;
God, our maker, doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come;
raise the song of harvest home!

We ourselves are God’s own field,
fruit unto his praise to yield;
wheat and tares together sown,
unto joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear:
grant, O harvest Lord, that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

Henry Alford (1810-1871)alt.

Opening Prayer

We praise you, living God:
you give strength to the earth that sustains us,
you open your hand to feed all living things.
We praise you, Lord Jesus Christ:
you teach us with stories of seeds and weeds and harvest time,
you call us to accept your word and bear much fruit.
We praise you, Holy Spirit, fire of love:
you are the breath of life in every creature,
you refresh our thirsty souls with grace.
Blessed be God, Source of Wisdom, living Word, abiding Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever.

Climate Change Prayer (Collect)

Holy God, earth and air and water are your creation,
and every living thing belongs to you:
have mercy on us as climate change confronts us.
Give us the will and the courage to simplify the way we live,
to reduce the energy we use,
to share the resources you provide,
and to bear the cost of change.
Forgive our past mistakes
and send us your Spirit,
with wisdom in present controversies
and vision for the future to which you call us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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.

Absolution

The Lord enrich you with his grace,
and nourish you with his blessing;
the Lord defend you in trouble and keep you from all evil;
the Lord accept your prayers,
and absolve you from your offences,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.  Amen.

Psalm 95.1-7

Come, let us sing to the Lord our God;
raise the roof to the Rock of rescue.

Come into the presence of the Lord with thanks;
raise the rafters with songs of praise.

The Lord is the great God, over all;
greater than every other power.

He holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.

The ocean is the Lord’s: it was made by God;
the land was formed by his own hands.

Come, let us bow before the Lord our maker;
with humble hearts we worship God.

The Lord is God and we are his;
we are the Shepherd’s very own flock.


Bible reading
Deuteronomy 8 verses 7-18

Do not forget the Lord

7 The Lord your God is bringing you into a fertile land—a land that has rivers and springs, and underground streams gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land that produces wheat and barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. 9 There you will never go hungry or ever be in need. Its rocks have iron in them, and from its hills you can mine copper. 10 You will have all you want to eat, and you will give thanks to the Lord your God for the fertile land that he has given you.

11 “Make certain that you do not forget the Lord your God; do not fail to obey any of his laws that I am giving you today. 12 When you have all you want to eat and have built good houses to live in 13 and when your cattle and sheep, your silver and gold, and all your other possessions have increased, 14 be sure that you do not become proud and forget the Lord your God who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. 15 He led you through that vast and terrifying desert where there were poisonous snakes and scorpions. In that dry and waterless land he made water flow out of solid rock for you. 16 In the desert he gave you manna to eat, food that your ancestors had never eaten. He sent hardships on you to test you, so that in the end he could bless you with good things. 17 So then, you must never think that you have made yourselves wealthy by your own power and strength. 18 Remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to become rich. He does this because he is still faithful today to the covenant that he made with your ancestors.

A Thought for the Day

A few weeks back I was late cutting the lawn in my garden. The grass, untouched, had grown longer than usual and different plants had started to grow. A lawn when it is left is not simply made up of grass. I noticed that two small oak trees had sprouted from acorns buried last autumn by a squirrel. They were in completely the wrong place, but rather than cut them down by running the lawn mower over them I removed them and potted them up.

In spring I planted up some Runner Bean plants and positioned them in a nice sunny spot. But the Runner Beans I had missed last autumn and whose seeds I had left in the ground produced a better crop than those I had planted.

Our bible reading for harvest tells us the story of the Israelites. It tells us about their journey out of slavery into a good land

“…a land with flowing streams…a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper” (Deuteronomy 8.7-9). The title of this passage in the Good News Version of the bible is “Do not forget the Lord” and this is a key message of harvest.

The earth around us was fruitful long before we began to cultivate it. There has always been a harvest, following the cycle of seasons spring, summer, autumn and winter.

We might be tempted to think that without farmers and gardeners there would be no harvest. But that is not the case. The earth always provides a harvest, but without farmers and gardeners it would be different and the yields, the amount of food grown to feed you and I would be different. So farmers and gardeners play an important role. At harvest time it is only right to thank them for their work and effort that will see us fed through winter.

But the earth would bring forward a harvest anyway, the earth that God has made and made to be fruitful. So harvest time is also a moment to thank God for the miracle of harvest that we tend to take for granted each year. For the richness of our harvest is not simply down to us, it is not simply our efforts or our brilliance that has brought a harvest successfully in, there is more to it than that.

But there is more to think about as we recognize that the earth is wonderfully and intricately made with many naturally occurring harvests. We live in partnership with and share the gift of this earth with others. So the way we respect or disrespect the earth makes a huge difference to every living, breathing plant and animal. We begin to show respect by demonstrating repentance, which is more than being sorry, but rather turning around and transforming our attitudes towards the earth. We show respect to the earth by treating it not like a disposable coffee cup, but as the supremely valuable gift it indeed is. In our day, it is no longer just about harvest. It is about the earth, our environment, our climate and the impact that each one of us has upon them for better or for worse.

So as we celebrate harvest, those harvests that we have sown and those that have just happened without any real effort on our part, let us all be grateful and thankful. Let’s give thanks to all those who make it possible, farmers, gardeners, lorry drivers and shop workers who work so that we can eat and drink.

Let’s give thanks to God for the earth, for such a fruitful place, for so many harvests that just happen each year. As we do so let’s treasure and value the earth and creation which are God’s great gift and let us show the earth the respect that it is due.

As a prayer, take a moment to look out of a window and to thank God for something you see and value.

Affirmation of faith
Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.
We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.
We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.
We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Prayers
Let us pray for our own needs and for the needs of others,
following the pattern which Jesus gave
when he taught us to pray to God our Father.

Through our love of our city,
through our care for the welfare of its people ,
through our care for its buildings, open spaces and roads which link us,
through our respect for the melting pot of cultures, races and languages
that make your city sing:
Father, hallowed be your name.

In our work places and in our homes,
in our centres of commerce and learning,
of industry and services, law courts, sports grounds and art centres,
and where policy is planned:
Father, your kingdom come.

By our seeking your guidance,
by our keeping your commandments,
by reducing our consumption of energy and resources,
by our living true to our consciences:
Father, your will be done.

For the millions who live in poverty and hunger,
for our own needs, and the requirements of our neighbours,
by cooperation, sympathy and generosity:
give us today our daily bread.

Because we have broken your commandments,
doing what we ought not to do and neglecting
what we ought to do:
forgive us our sins.

If any have injured us by injustice, double dealing or exploitation:
we forgive those who sin against us.

When prosperity lulls us to false security,

or hard times prompt us to despair,
When success makes us boastful,
or failure makes us bitter:
lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

In the assurance of faith,
in the confidence of hope,
in the will to serve,
in the seeking of safe and sustainable cities,
help us to love Christ as Lord,
and our neighbour as ourselves.
for the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen.

Conclusions and Endings

Creator God,
you give seed for us to sow,
and bread for us to eat;
make us thankful for what we have received
and generous in supplying the needs of others
so all the world may give you thanks and glory,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Dismissal

Go in strong and growing faith.
Trust in the tenderness of Christ
to heal a bruised and broken world.
Thanks be to God.

Go in eager and refreshing hope.
Work with Christ risen from the dead,
to fulfil the promise of a new creation.
Thanks be to God.

Let us go in peace,
to treasure and to tend the world God made and loves.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

Sources:
Patterns for Worship 1995,1998, New Patterns for Worship 2002 : Church House Publishing
Climate Change prayer; Dismissal,, stewardship of creation; Anglican Communion Environmental Network
Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society