Call to Worship
Give thanks to the LORD, for God is good;
God’s steadfast love endures for ever.
God crowns the year with bounty;
Pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy.
Valleys deck themselves with grain, and sing together for joy.
So let us all praise God for all God’s goodness to us.
Hymn - Hills of the North rejoice
Your hands have shaped this world –
A world born from your imagination,
And given life through your own breath.
Thank you for the beauty of nature;
For its vastness and for its delicacy.
Thank you for mountains and valleys,
For beaches, seas and coasts,
As well as for fields and gardens and parks.
Thank you for bird song,
For animals of every sort and size,
and for crawly creatures on land and in the sea.
Help us, Creator God,
To enjoy all your hands have made
And help us too, to care for it all,
So that your world might thrive.
On this day, we thank you especially,
For your invitation to work with you in sowing and planting and in harvesting.
Grow in us, we pray, a greater sense of wonder at how amazing your world is
And may that wonder encourage us
To cherish and respect this world
As the gift it is from you.
Teach us too, we pray,
how to share that gift,
With all around us. As you intended. Amen
All age talk
Hymn 181 – For the beauty of the earth
Readings – Philippians 3: 4b -14 (pg 1180)
Matthew 21: 33-46 (pg 990)
Hymn 231 – For the fruits of all creation
God of faithfulness, your generous love supplies us with the fruits of the earth in their seasons. Give us grace to be thankful for your gifts, to use them wisely and to share our plenty with others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Are you sitting comfortably. Then I will begin! Once upon a time there was a giant who lived in a rather large house with a beautiful garden not too far from here. But his cousin who was an ogre in Cornwall invited him for a visit, so off the giant went. It was quite far away so he was gone for some time, in fact a number of years. During that time the local children discovered the garden and played in it. It was wonderful with trees to climb and pretty flowers to gather. But then the giant came back. ‘What are you doing in MY garden’, he shrieked. ‘get out of here. If you dare to come back, I will eat you up’. And he built a wall to keep them out, and the leaves fell off the trees and the flowers died, and it was winter. It was winter in December, but it was also winter in April and in July and in September. It was winter right through the year. Until one day some children, with some memory of a wonderful garden, crept through a hole in the wall, and the wintry weather gave way to glorious spring. The trees blossomed, but there was one part of the garden which remained wintry, and that is where a single, solitary boy was unable to reach up and climb a tree.
The selfish giant came out, and all the children ran away -except for the boy trying to climb the tree. The giant saw him trying and reached down and helped him up to the branch – and then the most wonderful thing happened – the boy turned and embraced the giant. The other children saw how the giant helped the boy, so gradually came back and played, but at the end of the day they go home, but the boy disappeared, and no one knew where he had gone.
Years passed, and the boy doesn’t return, and the Giant is sad. Until the giant is dying, and the boy appears, with marks of nails in his hands and feet, but he tells the giant not to be scared. As the giant had let him play in his garden, he would now take the giant to his garden, paradise. When the other children came, they found the giant dead.
It is an Oscar Wilde story, and maybe his most Christological. We can take a lot out of the story. The garden reminds us of Narnia where it was always winter and never Christmas. But it can also remind us of the vineyard in our Gospel reading today, for the selfishness of the giant reminds us of the selfishness, the greed, of the tenants led to the abuse and killing of the landowner’s servants and even his son. The tenants wanted the vineyard and its produce all for themselves and killed the Son to gain his inheritance. Selfishness, self-gain ruled their hearts. The boy in the story with the marks of suffering is the Christ figure, ready to embrace the world, even those who are selfish. Everyone needs to be loved, and love changes a person.
Harvest is a time to remember how through selfishness we can turn our gardens, our earth, wintry. As humans we have abused the earth, exploited its fruit and minerals and we live with the consequences of that. The industrial revolution brought in great wealth but created horrendous conditions and changed our world. Yes, there were the Robert Owens of New Lanark who sought to provide schooling and further learning, but the reliance on fossil fuels was set.
We think of self and fail to see what others are going through. The war in Ukraine has had a gigantic impact on food security. Ukraine was a major exporter of grain, and countries like Egypt which were so reliant on grain have seen inflation rise and it is the vulnerable who suffer.
But in our story love triumphed over selfishness and made the garden grow. There are always good news stories as well, as people triumphing over adversity and addressing the situations where they find themselves.
In Egypt the Church has helped Christian villages set up committees to look at health and education. Sadly a common theme is poor sanitation and pollution. In one village there was no way of disposing safely of rubbish, and it piled up beside the banks of canals. They have been able to address this and have been able to remove 148 tons of rubbish and purified the water in the canal, and life has become healthier. In Cairo it is Christians who collect the rubbish, and their families go through the rubbish and manage to recycle so much of it.
In Iraq, devastated by ISIS, young Christians are looking to emigrate to Turkey or Jordan, as there are no opportunities. But again a scheme has been established in the Nineveh plain to irrigate land and make the desert blossom. Serop is 25and from a family of 8. He has now been trained to plant and tend crops in a greenhouse. His strawberries didn’t succeed but he was determined and experimented with broccoli and things are going well. All thought of leaving his village and country are gone; he wants to stay and help his village.
We are going to share in communion and we take bread made of many grains and wine made from many grapes. We rejoice in the harvest, and as we reflect on the Christ who bears the wounds of suffering, but through love conquered death and rose again. So we remember and we pledge ourselves to rejoice in the harvest enjoyed by all the world.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
We give you thanks, O God, for all things that make life good, and pray that all people will share in the blessings we know. For the world, for the wonders of earth, sea and sky; for beauty in nature and wildlife;
and for the rhythm of the days and seasons;
For waters that refresh and sustain life;
for soil that is fertile and rich;
for those who tend crops and care for harvests;
for those who produce, deliver and market our food;
and for those who make sure the hungry are fed;
For human life; for talking and thinking together, working on problems and plans;
for burdens and joys shared;
for relationships that give life meaning;
and for the wisdom exchanged between old and young in mutual support:
For your grace in times of anxiety, doubt and grief;
for healing in times of illness, confusion, and distress;
for rejuvenating strength and renewed purpose;
for scientific knowledge and discovery to confront disease and improve health;
For the trust that you hear each prayer and know every need; that you love and care for all; and that you walk with us through all our days and seasons; Amen
The banqueting table is prepared and God calls us to the feast.
We have come from east and west, from north and south, to sit at Christ’s table.
Here compassion, love, and grace pour out like fine wine.
Here we taste the bread of life, bread for our journey.
There are gifts of God for all the people of God.
Let us taste and see that the Lord is good!
Invitation to the Table
This table is set for all;
around it there are no divisions.
Just as bread is not made from one grain, but from many, and wine is not made from one grape, but from a full harvest, so too, we, who are many, are made one in Christ.
Hymn 103- Fill your hearts
The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
The Lord be with you;
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts;
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God;
It is right to give God thanks and praise.
It is our calling and our greatest joy to give you thanks and praise, Lord God, Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth. You spoke, and all things came into being: the sun, moon and stars, the earth, sky and waters, and everything they contain.
Your Spirit swept over creation, bringing order out of chaos and life out of the formless void.
From the elements of earth, you created humankind in your image. You breathed life into us and called us to love and serve you. But we turned away, seeking to live in our own way. Yet you have never turned from us. Through the law and the prophets, you called us back to you.
In the fullness of time, you sent your son, Jesus, born of a mother’s flesh, to reveal your grace and love.
Again and again, you welcome us back to your side
with the open arms of a loving father.
Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices with those from every time and place, to proclaim your glory in the unending hymn:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holy is your son, Jesus.
Walking this earth, feeding the hungry, calling the lost, offering healing and teaching to all who sought him, he revealed your kingdom at work in your world.
we recall the mystery of faith:
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
O God, pour out your Spirit upon us and upon this bread and wine. May they be for us the body and life blood of our Lord Jesus, healing, renewing and making us whole.
Unite us in worship and witness with your Church throughout the world so that together we will bring honour and glory to your name
through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ,
in whose name we offer these words:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
Breaking of bread
The Lord Jesus on the night that he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and said, ‘this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me’.
In the same way he took the cup, saying ‘ This cup is the new covenant sealed by my blood. Whenever you drink of it, do so in memory of me’
O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. (x2)
grant us your peace.
This is the Christ’s body, broken for you. Take and eat in memory of him.
This is the blood of Christ poured out for each one of us. Take and drink in memory of him.
Prayer after Communion
Lord Jesus Christ, you have nourished us in this meal,
and fed our bodies and souls.
We have heard your love; now send us out to speak it.
We have seen your love; now send us out to show it.
We have been fed by your love; now send us out to share it.
and let all things be done for your glory. Amen.
Hymn 233 – Come ye thankful people come.
In this season of harvests from field and garden, walk with thanksgiving in your hearts, savouring the abundance God’s creation produces,
honouring what the earth needs to flourish again next season.
And may the blessing of God, our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of Life,
be with you now and remain with you always. Amen.