Harvest Thanksgiving Service of the Word
(choir sings "We Plough the Fields and Scatter") ♪ We plough the fields, and scatter ♪ ♪ The good seed on the land ♪ ♪ But it is fed and watered ♪ ♪ By God's almighty hand ♪ ♪ He sends the snow in winter ♪ ♪ The warmth to swell the grain ♪ ♪ The breezes and the sunshine ♪ ♪ And soft, refreshing rain ♪ ♪ All good gifts around us ♪ ♪ Are sent from heaven above ♪ ♪ Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord ♪ ♪ For all his love ♪ ♪ 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 ♪ ♪ All good gifts around us ♪ ♪ Are sent from heaven above ♪ ♪ Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, ♪ ♪ For all his love ♪ ♪ We thank thee, then O Father ♪ ♪ For all things bright and good ♪ ♪ The seed-time and the harvest ♪ ♪ Our life, our health, our food ♪ ♪ No gifts have we to offer ♪ ♪ For all thy love imparts ♪ ♪ But that which thou desirest ♪ ♪ Our humble, thankful hearts ♪ ♪ All good gifts around us ♪ ♪ Are sent from heaven above ♪ ♪ Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, ♪ ♪ For all his love ♪ - Welcome in the name of Christ. God's grace, mercy, and peace be with you. Welcome to our Harvest Worship from the Diocese of Hereford, The most rural diocese in the church of England.
Farming is integral to the life of our communities and thanksgiving for the harvest is a key part of the rhythm of our year. Thank you for joining with us in worship today. Blessed are you, Lord God, creator of heaven and earth. Your word calls all things into being and the light of dawn awakens us to life. May your wisdom guide us this day, that we may cherish and care for your good creation and offer to you the sacrifice of our lips praising you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, blessed be God forever.
As those who know the generosity of God, let us confess our sins, especially the ways in which we take creation and God's gifts for granted. Lord, you give us this good earth, yet we take your generous gifts for granted. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord, you give us this good earth but we squander its rich resources. Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord, you give us this good earth, but we fail to share your bounty with all of your children. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy. All mighty God, who in Jesus Christ has given us a kingdom that cannot be destroyed, forgive us our sins, open our eyes to God's truth, strengthen us to do God's will and give us the joy of his kingdom, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. Our first reading is brought to us by Chrissie Peplar, who leads on our diocesan vision to net zero by 2030.
- A reading from the first letter of Paul to Timothy, Chapter 6, verses 6 to 10. "Of course there is great gain in godliness, combined with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich, fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and in their eagerness to be rich, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains."
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. (choir sings "Psalm 126") ♪ When the Lord restored ♪ ♪ The fortunes of Zion ♪ ♪ Then were we like those who dream ♪ ♪ Then was our mouth filled with laughter ♪ ♪ And our tongue with songs of joy ♪ ♪ Then said they among the nations ♪ ♪ 'The Lord has done great things for them' ♪ ♪ The Lord has indeed done great things for us ♪ ♪ And therefore we rejoiced ♪ ♪ Restore again our fortunes, O Lord ♪ ♪ As the river beds of the desert ♪ ♪ Those who sow in tears ♪ ♪ Shall reap with songs of joy ♪ ♪ Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed ♪ ♪ Will come back with shouts of joy ♪ ♪ Bearing their sheaves with them ♪ - Our gospel reading comes from Hereford Cathedral behind me, a church which holds the Silver Eco Church Award. - A reading from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, chapter six, beginning at verse 25.
"Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more than food? And the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory, was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, you of little faith? Therefore do not worry saying, 'what will we eat?' Or 'what will we drink?' Or 'what will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things, but strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. - Last week, I prayed for a group who were beginning a walk from Hereford to arrive at Glasgow in time for the COP26 conference.
They're carrying a ginkgo tree seedling. These extraordinarily resilient trees have been around since the age of the dinosaurs. They were carrying it as a symbol of hope. As national leaders gather for what could be the defining international conference of this generation, its resilience reminds us that it's still within our power as human beings to prevent the worst excesses of climate change. I've no doubt that the conversations at COP26 will be about practical commitments. There will be intense behind the scenes bargaining.
The temptation will be to do the least that can be got away with. What can be sold back home. What is politically expedient.
Behind all this will be a judgment about human motivation and the degree, not just to which practical policies can be changed, but the degree to which people will tolerate a change in their lifestyles. The conversation about climate change inevitably turns to big policies and gestures. But as with most things, it comes back to the heart. How can broken and fallible human beings like you and I be persuaded to change and make sacrifices for the greater good both now and for future generations? the Sermon on the Mount gets to some practical exhortations eventually, but Jesus' genius is that he looks at the inner life first.
Our reading today deals with one such attitude, that of anxiety. "Do not worry about your life," words that sound implausible to modern ears, but must've sounded pie in the sky to the first century farmers who first heard them. Those who were utterly dependent on forces over which they had no control, where a drought or flood at the wrong time could impoverish or bring to the brink of starvation or beyond. But this is advice predicated on a deeper reality than that, which presents the reality of God and his nature as generous provider.
This nature is evident to those who will see it, woven into the fabric of creation itself. Birds are provided for. The flowers of the field continue, year after year, resilient in the face of the vagaries of nature. Each illustrative of God's love for the world he has made and sustains.
The antidote to the anxiety that holds stuff as a sort of hedge of protection against the world is trust in a God like that. Surely this sort of anxiety lies at the root of our conspicuous consumption. As someone once said, we buy things we don't need and can't afford to impress people we don't like. In the current climate crisis, such decisions about the cars we buy, and the planes we fly in and food we eat prove to have moral consequences. Our choices are not just about what they do to us, but have implications for the lives of people on the other side of the world, who bear the results of our over-consumption.
The lifestyle Jesus invites us to hear is one of simplicity. Not grasping, but trusting. Not hoarding, but generously giving. 40 years ago I worked for one of the great missionary statesman of Pakistan, Ken Old. In the earlier part of his career, he took over an orphanage. As he arrived, he asked the outgoing director how much money was in the deposit account.
The reply, nothing. He then asked how much was in the current account. The reply, nothing. Hi final question was, "well, how much money do you have?" The reply, "we have 12 rupees, but when the money runs out, tell the children, they'll know what to do." Sure enough, a few days later, Ken had to tell the children, "We have no more money." At which point a child stood up and prayed a simple prayer.
"Dear Lord, Papa says we have no more money, but you know, we have to eat. Amen." The next morning, a very anxious Ken answered the door to a couple of well-dressed men. They introduced themselves.
"We're from the United Nations food program and are looking for a small community to do a nutritional trial. The only stipulation is that we have to provide you with all your food for the next year." Ken said, "come in." Five years later, a new incoming director had the same conversation with Ken that he had had when he started. It began, "How much money do you have in your deposit account?" I think you can imagine where it ended. Ken departed and handed him 12 rupees.
I think that is the sort of joyful dependent trust Jesus is driving at. As we pray for COP26 and the necessary changes we all have to make, it will be such trust that will make the giving up not a loss, but a gain. Let us declare our faith. We believe in God, the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. We believe in God, the Son, who lives in our hearts through faith and fills us with his love.
We believe in God, the Holy Spirit, who strengthens us with power from on high. We believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. And our next hymn is "All Creatures of Our God and King."
(choir sings "All Creatures of Our God and King") ♪ All creatures of our God and King ♪ ♪ Lift up your voice and with us sing ♪ ♪ Alleluia, alleluia ♪ ♪ Thou burning sun with golden beam ♪ ♪ thou silver moon with softer gleam ♪ ♪ O praise him, O praise him ♪ ♪ Alleluia, alleluia ♪ ♪ Alleluia ♪ ♪ Thou rushing wind that art so strong ♪ ♪ Ye clouds that sail in heaven along ♪ ♪ O praise him, alleluia ♪ ♪ Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice ♪ ♪ Ye lights of evening, find a voice ♪ ♪ O praise him, O praise him ♪ ♪ Alleluia, alleluia ♪ ♪ Alleluia ♪ ♪ Dear mother earth, who day by day ♪ ♪ Unfoldest blessings on our way ♪ ♪ O praise him, alleluia ♪ ♪ The flowers and fruits that in thee grow ♪ ♪ Let them his glory also show ♪ ♪ O praise him, O praise him ♪ ♪ Alleluia, alleluia ♪ ♪ Alleluia ♪ ♪ Let all things their Creator bless ♪ ♪ And worship him in humbleness ♪ ♪ O praise him, alleluia ♪ ♪ Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son ♪ ♪ And praise the Spirit, Three in One ♪ ♪ O praise him, O praise him ♪ ♪ Alleluia, alleluia ♪ ♪ Alleluia ♪ And our prayers today are led by Nick Reed, one of our agricultural chaplains here in the diocese. - Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness and you give us the fruits of the earth in this season. Grant that we may use them to your glory for the relief of those in need and for our own wellbeing. Through Jesus Christ, your son, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
Lord God, we celebrate this year's harvest, thankful that we will not hunger and grateful for the abundance of food that will sustain us during the year. Trade in food is a significant contributor to our economy, both within the UK and across international boundaries. It offers significant opportunities for promoting economic growth and wellbeing, especially in our post-Brexit world. But we are mindful that trade may also distort and undermine local producers, and that animal welfare and environmental standards may be sacrificed for profit. Lord in our trading, help us to negotiate arrangements that support the common good, enhance environmental wellbeing, and protect animal health. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Loving God, we are thankful for the skill and dedication of those who grow our food, who tend livestock, and who work at sea to bring fresh produce to our tables. But we are mindful that these are difficult and sometimes dangerous occupations. And that there are often shortages of skilled labor to work on the land. Lord, please protect those who work the land, bless their family life, support the communities they represent, grant them just reward for their labor and raise up the new blood that will continue the legacy of stewardship for generations to come.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. Compassionate God, we celebrate the beauty of rural life, the resilience of our rural communities and the benefits of nature to human health and wellbeing. But we are mindful that rural life may also be lonely. That access to services may be difficult and that the image of a rural idyll may mask inequality and hardship. Lord bless those who work to support our rural communities, both emotionally and through practical help, our GPs, agricultural chaplains, faith groups, and the many charities that support the land-based sector. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Merciful God, the way we grow our food presents significant future challenges and opportunities both to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from our ruminants and crops, and the potential to store carbon within our soil. But we are mindful that meeting these challenges will require changes that we all have to make in the food that we eat and the way we pay for the public goods that land use provides. Lord, as we look to the future, help us to discern and make the changes needed to address the twin challenges of climate change and ecological ill health that is impacting on our beautiful world. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. Creator God, food production is often at the forefront of technological advances in genetic engineering, in its use of chemicals and veterinary products. But we are mindful that technological advance may also bring controversy and risk, and the potential for damage as well as great benefits.
Lord bless all who work in the science of farming, that as we negotiate future genetic and land-based technologies, we may always be mindful of the need to care for and to protect the environment. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. We join together in the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen. And we conclude with Hereford Diocese's own prayer for the environment. Oh, Christ, first born of all creation through whom all things were made, whose breath imparted life to all, whose covenant embraced Noah and all creatures, who willed to make your dwelling in matter, becoming flesh for our sake, teach us how we may let creation fulfill its destiny to glorify you, to praise you, and to highly exalt you forever. Amen.
- And the collect for today. Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season. Grant that we may use them to your glory for the relief of those in need and for our own wellbeing.
Amen. As the whole of creation looks with eager longing for the redemption of humankind, let us pledge ourselves anew to serve our creator God, the Father, who is the maker of all things, the Son, through whom all things are made, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, who renews the face of the earth. And we say together, Lord of life and giver of hope, we pledge ourselves to care for creation, to reduce our waste, to live sustainably, and to value the rich diversity of life. May your wisdom guide us that life in all its forms may flourish and may be faithful in voicing creation's praise, may the commitment we have made this day be matched by our faithful living. Amen. Amen. Amen. Thank you for joining this online service from the Diocese of Hereford.
God in his rich generosity provides for us day by day. Let us always be thankful for his provision and ask for his continued help in the responsible stewardship of his gifts. Let us pray. May God who clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds of the air, who leads the lambs to pasture and the deer to water, who multiplied loaves and fishes and changed water into wine, lead us and feed us and change us to reflect the glory of our creator, now and through all eternity, and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever. Amen.
(choir sings "All People That on earth Do Dwell") ♪ All people that on earth do dwell ♪ ♪ Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice ♪ ♪ Him serve with fear, his praise forth tell ♪ ♪ Come ye before him, and rejoice ♪ ♪ The Lord, ye know, is God indeed ♪ ♪ Without our aid he did us make ♪ ♪ We are his folk, he doth us feed ♪ ♪ And for his sheep he doth us take ♪ ♪ O enter then his gates with praise ♪ ♪ Approach with joy his courts unto ♪ ♪ Praise, laud, and bless his name always ♪ ♪ For it is seemly so to do ♪ ♪ For why the Lord our God is good ♪ ♪ His mercy is forever sure ♪ ♪ His truth at all times firmly stood ♪ ♪ And shall from age to age endure ♪ ♪ To Father, Son and Holy Ghost ♪ ♪ The God whom heaven and earth adore ♪ ♪ From men and from the angel-host ♪ ♪ Be praise and glory evermore ♪