The Lord be with you! Good morning, Cheviot Churches – and Good morning to those joining us in other places too! You are all very welcome. This is Colin, and I hope everyone is staying well. Come, people of God, let us worship together for our service for Harvest Thanksgiving.
The land has yielded its harvest: God our God has blessed us.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it
Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice
Hymn 233 – Come, ye thankful people, come (vv1,2)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of harvest time we gather together today as Your people and Your church to celebrate and to give thanks for the harvest that we have been fortunate enough to share in. Enable us to be fruitful in our worship and to praise You with joyful hearts.
Father in heaven, all good gifts come from you. You send the sunshine and the rain, and it is through your love and care that we enjoy the harvest. Thank you for providing so richly for our needs and help us to share the good things we have with those who have little or nothing.
Let us confess our forgetfulness of God, our failure to give thanks and the ways in which we have wasted the gifts of creation. We confess to you our lack of care for the world you have given us. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
We confess to you our selfishness in not sharing the earth's bounty fairly. Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
We confess to you our failure to protect resources for others. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. May God show us mercy, restore us in God’s likeness and give us generous hearts and lives.
Readings – Ruth 2: 8-12
Luke 12: 13-21
Hymn 230 – Praise God for the Harvest (1,3,5)
Heavenly Father, may we come to know the wisdom that comes from heaven which is first of all pure; peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Help us to become peacemakers who sow in peace in order to raise a harvest of righteousness. Amen.
It has been wonderful to see the tractors and combines out in the fields around us over these last few weeks – bringing in the harvest. It is always a special time of year, and although harvest really goes on all year now and there are many kinds of harvests, such as animals and fish, it is always good to have a day in the year to stop and give thanks.
Many of the books of the Bible were written in agricultural settings, and Jesus in his parables often used examples from farming life – like the story today of the rich farmer, who had a bumper harvest and wanted to build more and more barns to put his crops in. But his philosophy was one of ‘Eat, drink and be merry’. Look out for No 1 first – and number is SELF. An attitude obviously that Jesus condemned.
But in the reading from Ruth, we met another farmer, Boaz. Again, he seems quite prosperous. He has land, and in the snapshot we have of him, he is enjoying a good harvest. No doubt like all farmers, he would have his anxieties; the weather, the fear of a plague of locusts which would destroy the crop, and even war. Just like farmers today worry about the weather and climate change and various diseases and bank loans. But Boaz was not like the farmer in the parable, thinking only of himself. He cared for his workers, but also for the poor in the community. The Law always encouraged Israelites to care for the widow and the orphan and the stranger, and at harvest time some of the harvest was left for them to glean or to gather. In fact, it still happens in Israel today. Boaz very much kept the law, and when he saw Ruth, a young woman, a widow and a foreigner, he encouraged his workers not to take advantage of her and also to leave her enough to gather and to take home. He was a good man, Boaz.
For Ruth she was vulnerable as a young widow far from home, standing ‘amid the alien corn’ with only her mother-in-law to look after her, but because of Boaz’ kind treatment of her, she felt welcomed and soon became part of the community. An example for us all to take to heart.
Angela is also a widow and also feeling vulnerable. She grows coffee in Nicaragua in Central America, but the climate is changing, and it has become hotter and that has affected the growth of her crop. There are new pests, and Angela is losing more and more each year. She has two daughters, and life in hard. But Christian Aid has helped to set up a cooperative in her village, and they have now diversified their crops and switched to growing climate-resistant cocoa. Suddenly everything is good, and they can look to the future with hope.
Another Harvest voice is Alwyn, a father of two from Northern Ireland. He had lost his job and found himself on a downward spiral. There was rent to pay, bills kept coming in, there were school trips to fund, but some days there was just no money for food and he found himself in a dark place. Often he would just give his daughters sugar to keep up their stamina and lots of water to keep them hydrated. He was referred to the local food bank and felt embarrassed going. But he was met with a welcome smile, a cup of coffee and given a bag of food. A few weeks later it was Christmas, and the family were given a bag of treats. Alwyn has since found a good job, and the family are on a stable footing, but he was so impressed by the Food Bank.
At Harvest we give thanks to God for providing us with food to eat, but we are encouraged to look beyond ourselves and see those in our wider community and those overseas who struggle to make ends meet, and especially at this time of Covid-19, and reach out with love and practical assistance.
Hymn 232 – Pears and Apples
Prayers of Dedication, Thanksgiving and Intercession
God of all creation, we praise and give thanks for all that You have given to us in our lives. We thank You for the beauty of the countryside around, for hills and rivers and fields and rolling landscapes. We thank You for the orchards, the grazing pastures and the rich soil for cultivation. We thank You for all those who work the land and sea to provide food to feed us; for farmers who grow crops and produce livestock with love and care and those fishing the deep oceans. We thank You God for the rich variety of food that comes from all across the world.
We pray today for farmers and farm-workers, especially those we know in our parish. We pray for them in the heat of summer and in the wet and cold of winter, as they tend their stock daily and cultivate their fields, as they manage the hedges, woodland and waterways. We pray for safety in a hazardous industry, encouragement for the solitary and anxious, and a fair price for their products.
Generous God, as we celebrate Your goodness to us in Scotland, we also remember the plight of those abroad, and especially those whose harvests have failed. We pray for those whose land or crops have been affected by floods, drought or fire, by pests and disease. For those whose families are hungry and for those who have no seed or livestock for the future. We also remember those who are dependent on food banks. Help us to be generous givers – of our money, food and time, as Christian disciples in this place, and show us how to be stewards of the resources of Your world, for the benefit of all people.
We continue to remember our country and all the countries of the world at this time of pandemic. Be with all who lead and grant ever wisdom, and help us to be ever considerate to the needs and health of others. Be with those in countries where medical professionals are few and where facilities in hospitals and clinics are limited. Be with all who are sick at this time and grant healing we pray.
Hymn 229 – We plough the fields and scatter (1,3)
May God who clothes the lilies and feeds the birds of the air, who leads the lambs to their pasture and the deer to still waters,
lead us, feed us and change us to reflect the glory of our Creator. And may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, rest upon you and upon those whom you love and those whom we are called to love, now and for ever Amen