Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for Harvest - 3 October 2021

by Peter Blount 3 October 2021

Welcome to worship for our Harvest Celebration 2021

Call to Worship – Gen 8 : 22
As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter.  Day and night will never cease.

Our first Hymn reminds us once more of God’s unending faithfulness to us.

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Heavenly Father, thank you for your constant care and unlimited grace to us all.  Especially at this time of Harvest we are mindful of the plenty that we have and that we are able to live in peace to enjoy it all.(take a few moments to give thanks for the special blessing you are grateful for).
Lord in the beauty of holiness, we give you thanks.

The Lord's Prayer 

We sing again in gratitude for all of God creation

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Reading from Luke Ch10 v 1 – 12 & 16 – 17 
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and 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.

 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’  If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.  Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’  But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,  ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’  I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”  The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Hymn: Come ye Thankful People Come

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The verse from Genesis comes after the recounting of the God flooding the earth in response to the disobedience of the early tribes. God chooses Noah to save the animal kingdom as it was then by building an Ark.

As the waters recede Noah builds an altar and makes sacrifices to God for their safe passage into the post-flood world of His creation. 

At this point God makes His promise to Noah and to succeeding generations 

(Gen 8 : 22) As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter.  Day and night will never cease. 

So from almost the very beginning we get God's promise that the earth will survive no matter what.  Since then there have, of course been many threats, mostly generated by ourselves, We try to harness and change nature, we destroy vast areas of forest, we engage in warfare, we gobble up the earth's natural resources with little, if any, thought for the future.  Yet on a global scale and on a very small scale nature adapts, changes and copes with the ultimate goal of survival. 

So as we celebrate Harvest this year what does it actually mean in a world where products are no longer seasonal or specialist or locally dependent.

So I looked up what the Oxford English dictionary had to say about Harvest, there were three definitions as follows:-  

1) Reaping & gathering-in of grain or corn crops 

2) Season’s yield of any natural product 

3) Product of any action 

1)  Reaping & gathering-in of grain or corn crops 
The one we would tend to most recognise – grain can now be harvested and stored on a scale so large we find it difficult to grasp. 

Bread, corn and rice are the staple diet of most counties around the world.

2)  Season’s yield of any natural product Again into this category would fall our fruit and vegetables again signified and given thanks for at Harvest. Not forgetting the Harvest of the Sea.

But, the definition includes ‘any natural product’  so now we need to include wood, furniture, building, packing.  Rubber – I watched a TV programme not long ago about the vast and unusual uses of rubber particularly post the vulcanisation process.

Now think about stone, minerals which are also natural products. They then become the basis of the manufacturing process including anything from gold rings to motor cars. 

My, what a Harvest! 

3)  Product of any Action 
People make or take action.

Some develop businesses, some get involved in politics and government, some teach and inspire but from each of their actions there is a harvest.  

We may not see that way initially, but it is fact.

Some by divine intervention and the leading of the Holy Spirit become teachers and preachers of the gospel, leaders of the church, evangelist and missionaries.

From their work there is surely a harvest, a harvest of individuals inspired, guided and blessed into becoming followers and disciples of Jesus.

John Henry Jowett was touched by God in the late 19th century and became a minister in the congregational church, he served in Halifax, Birmingham and Westminster Chapels. 1911 – 1918 (interestingly, the war years) he served the Presbyterian, Church 5th Ave, New York. During that time of great blessing he wrote a book, the title of which was ‘The Passion for Souls’.

So, Harvest 2021  

These last couple of years have been challenging on an unprecedented and global scale, but nevertheless, we are surrounded by God's continuing and vast goodness to us, giving thanks for the Harvest of food, materials and comforts.  Most, or at least some, we simply take for granted.

Remember definition number 3 ‘the Product of Any Action’

Some actions are not always seen in a positive light and we so easily find ourselves being drawn to the unhelpful argument, the personal disagreement, the negative decisions made by those who think they have authority. This does happen, even within the life of the church. As a result we become depressed, introverted and ineffective.   

The blessings of Harvest should, however, inspire us to see past all which pulls us away from focusing on God's promise in Genesis, that has guided succeeding generations.          

Matthew tells us in the great commission to ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel’

Luke tells us ‘the fields (which today means the market place of life, local streets & shops, the workplace) are ripe unto harvest, but the reapers are few’.

Please be inspired to find, nurture and grow your own ‘Passion for Souls’, and go out with the same passion and enthusiasm as the seventy two mentioned in our Gospel reading.

Our Prayers for Others 
We pray for our beautiful world damaged by man's desire for progress

Our Nation and its leaders asking that they be inspired to make better and more equal use of the natural resources available.

For the Methodist Church in its turmoil – that it may find vision and direction.

For our local church and for Jacky that together we may be more effective in this area. 

For the Basics Bank, as they receive our Harvest Gifts,  and all who work with them to alleviate hunger and hardship in this city. 

Finally we pray for all who suffer, particularly anyone know to us personally, Lord give blessing, comfort and encouragement.

All these prayers we bring in Jesus' name AMEN

Our final Hymn is synonymous with Harvest but sums up all our thoughts so well

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Final Prayer 
Heavenly Father, giver of all things,
make us more thankful for what we have already received,
make us more content with what we have,
make us more mindful of people in need
and make us more ready to help and serve then in whatever way we can,
as servants of Jesus Christ Our Lord