Welcome, Cheviot churches! We worship together on this Harvest Thanksgiving.
We gather together to celebrate God’s bounty and blessing, to proclaim God’s goodness and love, to remember the many ways in which God has provided for our needs, and to offer ourselves in the work of God’s kingdom. Praise the God of harvest and hope! Let’s worship together
Hymn 233 – Come, ye thankful people come (1,2)
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
God of all creation,
in this season of thanksgiving for the harvests of the earth, we are struck by the beauties of autumn,
leaves in bright colours, hedgerows with berries, fields ripe with produce.
Such beauty speaks of your goodness, your desire to provide what each beloved creature needs.
As we gather this day,
renew our sense of thanksgiving for what you give to us in the fruitfulness of creation,
and in Christ Jesus who teaches us how to walk wisely on the earth you made.
For all your good gifts we honour you with thanks and praise, now and always.
God of our lives,
when we give thanks for your good gifts around us,
we know that we enjoy an abundance many cannot even imagine. Yet we confess we do not always see the blessings in which we share.
We worry about the future,
if we can recover from the pandemic,
whether we will have enough for our families to flourish.
Forgive our fears of going without, and our failure to be grateful for how much goodness is already ours.
In mercy God forgives our sins. Let us live in peace one with another.
Readings – Joel 2: 21-28
Matthew 6: 25-33
Hymn 240 - God in such love for us lent us this planet
Lord of the harvest, with joy we offer thanksgiving for your love in creation: by your grace plant within us a reverence for all that you give us and make us generous and wise stewards of the good things we enjoy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
‘Come, ye thankful people, come, bring the song of harvest home. All is safely gathered in’. Over the last month or so, the tractors have been going up and down the roads, there has been lots of activity in the fields, as the harvest has been brought in. We give God thanks once again for all the food in our shops -I know the blueberries are from Caverton, but I like to think the broccoli and cauliflowers are local too.
In Zambia, the maize harvest was the most important. Everyone had their field, and there was real satisfaction when the cobs were collected and stored – food to last till the next harvest. Unless, of course, the harvest failed, and that would have been a disaster, and people would have gone hungry.
In the book of Joel we are given a picture of a good harvest; a picture of trees bearing fruit and vines laden with grapes. The threshing floors are filled with grain, and vats are overflowing with olive oil. I can imagine their sense of joy, having been involved in an olive harvest. All the necessities of life are there, and it is a picture of abundance. BUT – if we were to read the book of Joel from the beginning, we have a different picture, for the fields were devastated by an army from the North. But not an army of soldiers, but of insects. An army of locusts, which stripped the fields of all their crops. It was a disaster. The people were helpless in the face of the plague of locusts; there was nothing they could do except watch their food for the year be eaten up by the insects. Last year in Ethiopia and Eritrea, there was a plague of locusts, and even with modern technology, it was an uphill battle to try to control it. How much worse in biblical times.
The locusts had devoured everything – in some versions their names are given as Hopper, Cutter, Devourer. But it passed, and in this passage, God is seen addressing the people who have known famine and fear and saying ‘Do not be afraid’. And then there is the most wonderful phrase – ‘God will restore the years the locusts have eaten’. They had been through this dreadful experience, but God promises better things.
Locusts are not something our farmers have to be wary of, though I did hear on the radio of a bug from Asia found on a farm down south. Farmers have other things to be anxious about as they seek to keep on top of new technology and it can take its strain. But then have our worries – for many it is the increased energy prices, though not so many of us are affected by gas. We have personal worries about finance or our health or families. We have wider concerns about the economy, the environment and the climate emergency. We can let our anxieties overwhelm us, as we look to the future. But in Matthew Jesus tells us not to worry. He says this 4 times in our passage. Why? Because the heavenly Father knows our needs. God delights in creation – the birds of the air, the flowers in the field, and how much more will God provide for us, His children! Don’t worry. Trust in God, that’s Jesus’ message.
We do that by, first and foremost, seeking God’s kingdom and working to see that kingdom, of peace and hope, of justice and fairness, prevail We do it by looking for the ‘God moments’ in each day, recognising where God is at work in us and in those who we meet; in the way we treat others and in our care for the environment. We do it by being Kingdom builders in our relationships and lifestyles, by using our gifts and talents, our listening and our praying, to bring a rich harvest.
This harvest time is always one of deep thankfulness for God’s care of us. We put our trust in God and respond to God’s goodness in praise. In the words from the Joel passage, ‘Do not be afraid. Be glad and rejoice. The Lord has done great things. Rejoice in the Lord your God.
Hymn 231 – For the fruits of all creation (1,3)
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
God, source of all life, the autumn is all around us now, beautiful in scarlet and gold. We have heard the Spirit of God in the rustling leaves and the rush of water, and we are so grateful for a generous harvest, for seeds of many kinds, sown and multiplied; for the sufficiency we enjoy.
Transforming God, we cannot sow our seed with clenched fists. Help us to open our hands, to let go of grasping, that we too may scatter with hope and generosity our seeds of justice, peace, and joy. So may the fruits of our harvest be for the sharing of the earth and the blessing of your love.
God of honey and harvest, of grain and grape of ocean and orchard: This harvest time may we both praise and pray; praise you for the abundance and pray that this harvest is not just shared, but shared justly.
Merciful and Generous God,
We bless you for the kindly fruits of the earth
which you have given to our use.
we remember and pray for the farmers
whose labours grow our crops both from here and abroad. We remember all involved in growing and marketing our food, but also remember those who struggle to get by day by day, for farmers beset by worries, and we pray for those in our community reliant on foodbanks.
We pray for all who depend on the earth for their daily food and fuel especially in the developing world, whose forests are destroyed for the profits of a few.
We pray for those who labour in poverty, who are oppressed by unjust laws, who are banned from speaking the truth and even from worshipping as they desire, those who long for a harvest of justice.
Healing and Generous God,
we pray for all those anxious about their health or facing difficult times for whatever reason, and we pray for family and friends under stress or in sorrow
whom we name in silence before you. Amen.
Hymn 229 – We plough the fields and scatter (1,3)
May the strength of God surround us; the promise of God protect us; and the grace of God guide us; so may we be markers of God’s mercy to those whom we love and serve.
Recessional Hymn 804 – You shall go out with joy