I hope you are well.
Today we had a wonderful gathering for our harvest festival service. Gordon treated us to some uplifting traditional harvest hymns, Fraser preached great words of wisdom and the church was beautifully decorated in harvest fashion. There was the usual alter offertory of produce and goods which were subsequently donated to Elpis. After the service we had an elaborate coffee which involved sweet treats and two stalls of produce, preserves and the odd bit of bric a brac. Thank you everyone for your contributions!
Notices for this week
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the garden room.
Thursday Holy Communion 10am followed by coffee in Friendship House
Sunday 24th October – 10am Sung Eucharist followed by AGM in church
Readings for next Sunday – 20th Sunday after Trinity – Isaiah 53:4-12, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-44
Further news from the diocese and church plus pictures of the Cake Walk can be found on the St Andrews website. Click on the link below.
Text from Fraser’s sermon
Amos 5: 6-7, 10-15
2 Corinthians 9: 6-15
Matthew 6: 25 – end
Harvest Thanksgiving is when we can give thanks for all the produce we can now enjoy, from many parts of the world. In doing that we recognize that the provision is from God’s creation, which has always been there despite local disasters or disruption.
When they fled from Egypt and wandered in the desert, the Jewish people complained that they had no food, but they found manna from heaven and quails for meat. There was enough for all provided they only took what they needed. Later, when they were settling in their new land and farming for themselves, when it came to harvest, provision was made for all, as we see in the book of Ruth. Those who had no land to cultivate, or were too poor to buy bread, were allowed into the harvest fields. The corn was cut on very high stems, and grain fell to the ground between the stems. This had to be left for the poor to glean. Sufficient for all.
For reasonable needs there was always sufficient in God’s provision. BUT as the people settled for longer, some grew richer and more selfish, keeping the poor very poor and not sharing. The prophets like Amos had to confront the rulers and the overly comfortable. Amos would have to tell the king and the other leaders that they were presiding over a corrupt and evil society. Merchants were fiddling with the scales and finding ways to force people into parting with extra currency. I imagine Amos acting out his vision and holding up a plumb line as he announced that God had looked at them and found them wanting. Confronting people who were easy to reach for the wrongs they had done was dangerous but it could be done. In a modern democracy we have many ways to express concern and to hold leaders to account. There are more complex problems which extend beyond small local communities and require much thought and fact finding with discussion and decisions across frontiers. The climate change meetings scheduled to take place in Glasgow as a response to evidence of climate change and the human contributions to the problem will need prayer and honest soul searching. The prophet Isaiah spoke of consequences of human behaviour in terms which resonate chillingly today, although far beyond any context of which he could be aware.
‘The earth will be completely laid waste…The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes. The earth is defiled by its peoples, they have disobeyed the laws…Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.’ Isaiah 24:4
That is a sombre background to this year’s Harvest Festival, and something about which we need to take to our prayers.
At this point Corinthians returns us to the message of the older scriptures and the laws which were to direct the behaviour of all. God has made ample provision and those who have much should give generously. This passage is full of awareness of God’s bounty in physical provision and in individual gifts – ‘God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that in all things and at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.’ (2 Cor 9:8)
Our Gospel also strikes a positive note. Although we are all too aware of problems in our world and our lives, Jesus urges us not to be bound down with worry. The birds of the air always have food, the flowers are clad in beauty. Why should we worry? ‘What should we eat?’ ‘What should we drink?’ ‘What should we wear? At a personal level we can still take care and be concerned, but worry is not a solution. We need to trust, and let tomorrow look after itself as individuals, rejoicing and giving thanks for all we have and all we have had.
As we give thanks for all God’s provision for us through the great world of natural creation, I close with words from a psalm of praise to God Psalm 66
‘You prepare the grain, for so you provide for the earth.
You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges, with heavy rain you soften the ground and bless its increase.
You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths overflow with plenty.
May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing, and the hills be clothed with joy.
May the meadows cover themselves with flocks, and the valleys cloak themselves with grain; let them shout for joy and sing.’