Rev'd Anne asked us to post her last Harvest sermon on the home page of the website upon her leaving
Our reading from the Old Testament for Harvest was from the Book of Deuteronomy and it begins,
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…”
Your aspirations and dreams for All Saints’ with St James’ began many years ago, and through prayer, hard work, and determination we are now in our transformed space. This bright flexible space is primarily for worship, and it is appreciated outside and inside the church. There is a wonderful vicarage ready for the next incumbent to enjoy, and the Lord has certainly answered prayer as the Psalmist proclaims. All Saints’ with St James’ is a good land indeed!
This month let us take heed of the words from Deuteronomy; “You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you”
Hard work and endeavour are wonderful qualities, but we should always thank God, and not ourselves, for His generosity toward us. Church life – indeed all life – should be built always on the foundation of prayer and worship, thankfulness, generosity and kindness.
Deuteronomy explains that if this way of being continues to be the bedrock of life, and the life of this church here in Brightlingsea, then you will continue to flourish. Therefore let me urge you to continue to be people of prayer and worship, thankfulness, generosity and kindness, as you walk into a new phase in the life of this church.
You have a rich harvest in each other and in the fabric of your shared life. Over the years you have learned to give generously of yourselves, and of your material wealth.
In Harvest Epistle, St Paul encouraged the growing church in Corinth to continue to be generous both in times of abundance and in adversity. It is very easy to forget the generosity and kindness of God when we feel under pressure, when we worry, or when we feel that we are lacking in some way.
St Paul says: “the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully… God loves a cheerful giver..”
Giving is in our nature, for we are made in the image and likeness of God –we give our time, talents and wealth to God – for Him to use and multiply with his Love. Let us always sow bountifully with open and generous and joy-filled hearts.
As a church you are in a very strong position as you approach another Interregnum. You have very committed Churchwardens, Leadership Team & PCC. You may feel that there is much to “worry” and fret about, perhaps a time to shrink back a little. No, on the contrary, it’s a time to step up.
However, God does understand the cost of sowing bountifully – he gave up his only Son for our sake.
God is gracious and compassionate, it is no surprise to God that we have a tendency to worry– in fact the Bible continually exhorts us not to fear, not to be afraid, not to worry..
In our Gospel reading for Harvest Jesus talked on this very subject with his disciples. He says:- ‘Do not worry about your life..life is more than food, and the body more than clothing..think of the ravens, they neither sow or reap…yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than birds!”
In fact, I would imagine that he says the following with a wry grin- ‘I know how much you worry, but really, do you think that you can add just one extra hour to your life by worrying? God knows exactly what you need.’
In our culture, peace – and by peace I don’t necessarily mean silence – is a scarce commodity. I think our society could be described more as a ‘worry culture’. The medical profession tell us that ‘worry out of control’ can have a very negative impact on our well being. It causes us to withdraw and shrink away. In the long run, excess worry can be deeply destructive.
In order to see how anxious we are as a nation, we just need to look at advertising. Advertising is a useful mirror in which to see ourselves. The selling pitch often revolves around worry in some form. I’m sure you will recognise some of these?
Worry about ageing – buy the cream
Worry about not being accepted or looking cool – buy the clothes
Accident –buy the insurance
Ageing – buy more insurance
Too fat – buy the diet products
No money– easy borrowing terms
Feel left behind – buy the latest technology to stay in touch
Feel alone – log on to our dating site – first 3 months free!
These ads are very successful and feed into our deep-seated insecurities. This promotion of worry is very cost effective for the advertiser. But at what cost to us, the consumer? What sort of harvest does this mind-set deliver? What kind of harvest does it produce if it remains unchecked?
Pope Benedict talks of the dangers of being assimilated into current secular culture, where the only person to trust is yourself, and the idea of a loving Heavenly Father is the stuff of fairy tales.
But we don’t come to church because we believe in fairy tales. We come because our Heavenly Father loves us with astonishing and amazing detail. When we celebrate Harvest, we give thanks for all good gifts around us, lavished upon us – God’s children.
At Harvest we give thanks for the gift of creation and all the spiritual and material wealth that we enjoy.
Finally then, as we look to the future, let me urge you to continue to be people of prayer and worship, thankfulness, generosity and kindness.
“the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully
And may you reap a harvest of righteousness through Jesus Christ our Lord
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…”
As a new chapter begins in the life of this parish, continue to pray with and for one another as you seek to discern God’s will and direction.
The Lord will build the house, and in the words of Julian of Norwich: (c. 8 November 1342 – c. 1416)
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”,
Thank you all for your love, your prayers and your support.
Yours in Christ