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Sunday 6 October 2024 Harvest

You are worth much more than the birds!

Joel 2:21-27; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Matthew 6:25-33

By Keith M Phipps

Supernumery Methodist Presbyter Ripon, North Yorkshire

Context: a regular Harvest Festival All Age Worship service with a display of products including a basket of fruit as described in the sermon

Aim: to show that despite being small cogs in a vast universe we can make a difference

We store up treasure on earth. We have anxious thoughts about food and drink. We worry about clothing. We humans are material beings. But Jesus says put away anxious thoughts about food, drink and clothes. Instead, look at the birds of the air who neither sow, reap nor store in barns. You are worth much more than the birds!

Today we celebrate our Harvest Festival.

We live in one world, a global village, shared with the birds of the air, the animals of the earth, and the fish and creatures of the seas. As a human race, we are a rainbow people made in the image and likeness of God. We come from different continents and countries and represent differing creeds, cultures and languages. We share a common humanity and yet so often focus on what divides us.

At home and abroad, there is injustice and inequality. Some are blessed with plenty whilst others are empty handed, awaiting handouts from charitable agencies such as the Red Cross or local Food Banks. War and famine are the plight of many, as people are caught in the crossfire leading to loss of home and security as they seek safety and sanctuary in neighbouring countries and further afield.

Global issues also affect us all. Deforestation, climate change, rising sea levels, and the pollution of the air, ground and seas not only impact on us but also have consequences for the natural world. World leaders, environmental campaigners, and ordinary folk like us, worry that, without changes to our way of life, things will not get better.

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we are reminded that God, the Creator, spoke into universal silence and brought light out of darkness and order out of chaos. God made humankind to till and tend the land along with the caveat that we are to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.

Thus, as people of faith, we are called to be the stewards of creation. Our purpose is not to dominate but to serve the interests of the world. Perhaps it begins in a simple way by us all looking afresh at our food today and in the coming days. Imagine a basket of fruit, containing an apple, an orange, a lemon and some grapes perhaps? Each fruit has a different texture and colour. Each has a different smell and taste. Now ask yourself where it came from? Was it grown locally, or did it come from further afield? Think how it got from field and farm to you and consider how many people were involved in its transportation by road, sea or air. Does it not serve as a reminder that we are all interdependent on other people as well as on nature?

Harvest Festival is a time to give thanks to God for the beauty and bounty of creation. Perhaps we need to make time to stop and recall that life is a gift from God to be treasured by us all. Is it time to ask what we can do to save the planet? We may not be able to tackle the big issues ourselves, but we can all assist each other, for example by recycling all we can. Furthermore, we might be able to do our bit to ease the plight of the poor and needy by helping and supporting the local Food Bank, or aid agencies working to provide food, drink and clothing to communities around the world.

Harvest is surely a time to give thanks to God for all we have? As we recognise that the earth is being damaged by choices we make and that its resources are finite, we can do no other than pray, and increase our efforts, to be more careful stewards of creation. Harvest is also a time to count our blessings and give thanks to God for his constant love. So let us sow the seeds of love and hope in the lives of others whereby love and friendship flourish. Mindful that life is a gift from God, may we seek to live in the spirit of the Eucharist, full of gratitude and thanksgiving.

You are worth much more than the birds!

Thanks be to God for the Harvest.

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