Sunday September 27th

On Sunday September 27th Cathy went with Beth to Whitby to celebrate her birthday. They had a perfect day of sunshine and enjoyed a trip in a boat, fish and chips and the beauty of Whitby. Beth drove them but Cathy treated her sister all day. They could not have wished for a better day.
Our minister Trevor Dixon led our Harvest Festival service at Wesley Chapel. Worship opened when we sang ‘Praise ye the Lord! ‘tis good to raise our hearts and voices in praise’. Trevor led the opening responsive prayers of praise before we sang, ‘For the fruits of his creation thanks be to God.’ Trevor led a prayer of thanksgiving for our plenty in contrast to the poverty around the world and locally. He then played a video showing the work of ‘All we can’, (formerly Methodist Relief and Development Fund; MRDF) in Ethiopia. They helped local farmers who had relied on bee keeping in traditional beehives to improve their business and become independent. The local support of ‘All we can’ brought the farmers support and training in planting seedlings in sand to grow healthy fruit trees to maturity, and improving the health of bees to get a higher yield of honey. They were given improved beehives. They formed a Bee keepers’ Co-operative so the increased yield of honey could be sent to centres for packaging. Their increased incomes enabled them to build new houses with iron roofs. Thus they were enabled to become self sufficient selling the honey and using the profits to fund sustainable improvements in their livelihood. Such permanent improvements only cost £20 for improved beehives or £52 to improve the fertilisation of fruit trees.
We sang a new version of ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ which was originally sung at the funeral of a young farmer in Aberdeenshire in 2006 which brings the farming techniques up to date.
We plough the fields with tractors
With drills we sow the land,
But growth is still dependent
On God’s almighty hand.
Our scientific knowledge
We use to swell the grain
But for its full fruition
It needs God’s sun and rain.

To gather in the harvest
Machines now lead the way.
We reap the fields with combines
We bale the new mown hay
But it is God the father
Who gave us all our skills
The life giving Creator
Who shaped our vales and hills.

He only is the maker
Of all things near and far
He paints the wayside flower;
He lights the evening star.
The winds and waves obey him,
By him the birds are fed.
Much more to us his children,
He gives our daily bread.

We thank you, therefore Father,
For all things, bright and good.
The seed time and the harvest
Our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
For all your love imparts,
And what you count precious
Our humble, thankful hearts.

I really liked the way these words brought the theme of harvest up to the present day and yet still acknowledged the part that God played in bringing the harvest to fruition. We then heard the reading from Numbers 10v33 about the Hebrew people wandering in the wilderness guided by Moses under God’s authorisation. They complained to Moses about the lack of meat as they journeyed and they regretted leaving Egypt the land of plenty. The Lord was angry and Moses felt exasperated; where on earth was he going to get meat from to feed them? Moses felt the weight of the burden of being the representative of the people before God. 70 elders came to ease Moses’ load, as God shared the spirit of Moses with them. Quails in profusion arrived and spread around the camp, providing more than enough food for a month. Trevor then read a rap version of the sower sowing the seed.

Trevor then began his sermon by describing his boyhood two week summer with his cousin, uncle and aunt in the Wolds. His uncle was a shepherd and Trevor found it exciting helping with the harvests. They had to build sheaves of corn into ‘stooks’ making sure they leant safely on each other and it was quite an art. Later Trevor helped load the sheaves of corn to get them back to the farm, where a machine was used for the threshing. The grain was then taken to the granary. Now huge combines build bales and collect grain as they travel along. Men and women still work together with God.

‘Action for children’ organised an outing to the country. One child saw a pile of milk bottles and said that it was a ‘Cow’s nest’!! We are cushioned in this country from the real effects of good or bad harvests. We no longer have a Corn Exchange as there used to be in the past. If a shop has run out of bread we can still eat Ryvita crisp breads or other varieties. Does the harvest make much difference to our lives? Trevor showed another video where the people were dancing in joy and thanksgiving for the blessing of the harvest. Do we really give thanks for the harvest? The harvest is not just local but international and we need to embrace the whole world.

We need to guard against affluence. Those who ate with the rich man were blind to the needs of the beggar at his gate. We have so much; we need to share it. Even in the times when harvest fails the affluent consumer can get food from round the world; there is no real season for strawberries. We can afford to pay for it at inflated prices, but the poor cannot afford to buy food and barren land leads to starvation. When the harvests are better the richest nations store the bounty in barns for a rainy day; remember ‘butter mountains’, milk or wine lakes because there was over production. Some farmers were even paid not to plant crops and have ‘set aside’ land. There was no will to share this bounty, although there is enough food to go round. The price of milk was driven down at the expense of the farmers.

We suffer from anxiety and are not always thankful for what God has given us. Trevor saw a plaque; ‘Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday and all is well.’ Let us thank God for all there has been in the past, for Jesus, for our daily bread and the opportunity to share it. Let us give thanks actively by sharing God’s goodness to us with the rest of the world.
Trevor led the prayers of intercession, confession and the Lord’s Prayer. Our final hymn was one I had not come across before; apparently it was in a school hymnbook, ‘Come and Praise’; ‘O Lord all the world belongs to you.’ The words are so valid today and challenge us.

O Lord, all the world belongs to You
and You are always making all things new.
What is wrong, You forgive,
and the new life You give
is what’s turning the world upside down.

The world’s only loving to its friends,
but Your way of loving never ends,
loving enemies too;
and this loving with You
is what’s turning the world upside down.

The world lives divided and apart,
You draw men together, and we start
in our friendship to see
that in harmony we
can be turning the world upside down.

The world wants the wealth to live in state,
but You show a new way to be great:
like a servant You came,
and if we do the same,
we’ll be turning the world upside down.

O Lord, all the world belongs to You
and You are always making all things new.
What is wrong, You forgive,
and the new life You give
is what’s turning the world upside down.

©1965 Josef Weinberger

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This entry was posted in Bible, Charity, Faith/Personal, Family, Justice, Miscellaneous/Personal, Music and Musicals, Work and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sunday September 27th

  1. selwyngoodacre says:

    I love the tale of the Harvest Festival. Great new words for ‘We plough the fields…’ – a lovely hymn though it reaches rather high notes. You won’t remember the great Harvest festivals at Coniston Cold, but they were brilliant – the church so wonderfully decorated, with Mother’s cottage loaf always the centre piece on the altar

  2. helenbeech says:

    That sounds great! I was too young to have a memory of those Harvest festivals, but from your description I can just see Mum’s cottage loaf in the centre of the display.

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