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Worship, Prayer and Bible Resources for Harvest Festival

26 Sunday in Ordinary, Year B, Green

Click here to view our harvest festival service


Harvest can be a bit of a back slapping exercise. Didn't we do well, we grew all these wonderful things and then we went all around the world and collected the most amazing things produced in other countries. We can refrigerate and freeze, we can put things in cans and ensure that we have as much as we want, almost whenever we want it.

But at what cost? Our farming methods, our industrial progress, our economic systems - all of these have a price. Other people around the world sometimes suffer as a result of our consumption. There is a growing weight of evidence that the activities of human beings are having quite dramatic effects upon our climate as well as the old familiar problems of pollution.

Harvest is a wonderful time of year, but now perhaps more than ever before it is a time when we need to also ask ourselves whether our greed has produced real need. If the cost of world development is global warming and the associated weather problems, then we have to dedicate ourselves to thinking how we are going to help those people who will suffer from the worst effects of flood and famine.

2 Corinthians Chapter 9

Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.’


Opening Sentence

The land has yielded its harvest: God, our God has blessed us. Psalm 67:6

The earth is filled with the gifts of the Lord: wine, and oil, and bread, to strengthen and cheer our hearts.   Psalm 104:13,15

Collect Prayer for the Day— Before we read we pray

Almighty and everlasting God, we offer you our grateful thanks for your fatherly goodness and care in giving us your gifts and the fruits of the earth in through the seasons. Give us grace to use them rightly, to your glory, for our own well being, and for the relief of those in need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Lord of creation , whose glory is all around and within us: open our eyes to your wonders, that we may serve you with reverence and know your peace at our lives' end, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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 your own well-being; 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 for ever.

First Bible Reading Joel 2:21-27

Be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice. Surely the LORD has done great things. Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.

Second Reading James 5:13-20

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.


Gospel Reading Matthew Chapter 6:25-33

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Post Communion Sentence

Lord of the harvest, with joy we have offered thanksgiving for your love in creation and have shared in the bread and the wine of the kingdom: by your grace plant within us a reverence for all that you give us and make us generous and wise stewards of the good things we enjoy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


In the parable of the rich fool today we see many things which remind us of the inherent dangers of wealth creation. The rich man has a huge harvest, he does not see this as an opportunity to lower the price and feed the poor. His mind turns rather to the idea to build bigger stores where he can keep the grain. Of course this would allow him to have more for himself, a bigger fortune, it would of course also ensure that there was not too much grain around and therefore continue to drive up the market price.
The rich man was a fool because he saw possessions as being life, an end in themselves. The more possessions are amassed the better the life and the more at ease with the world the person would be. However the contrary is true, possessions bring worry and create division with the world not peace.
The parable gives us from the mouth of Jesus the verdict of God upon those who place their trust in wealth. Life is very fragile, it hangs by a thread and Jesus is clear there are far more important things to do in life than gather wealth and possessions together.
For some the gathering of wealth is an antidote to fear, they worry about the future and consider that the best way to prepare is to have a very large financial cushion to fall back on. Jesus uses the illustration of the death of the man as a warning that possessions are no basis for life and security and no protection whatsoever against the really important duty of being prepared to give account God for how we have used our resources. The rich man thought he owned a lot of things and therefore he was safe. The parable serves as a reminder that we have nothing, even our very life can at any time be asked for by God. There is contradiction when life is seen as frail we are tempted to think that the gathering of many possessions will help protect it. Jesus makes the point that the truth is to the contrary because the possessions are frailer still than life itself.
Psalm 14 tells of the fool who says in his heart that there is no God. The rich man is like that, he doesn’t include God in his thoughts or actions. He sought security in things, and life is so much more than gathering material things for ourselves. Jesus tried to change the focus of his disciples and stop them thinking about themselves. If we want to be rich before God then we must be a people who give to others, who think about the plight of those who live less well, or perhaps who barely live at all. If our plan is to direct our energies towards getting things for ourselves then we will ultimately be impoverished towards God.
None of this is easy, we all want to have financial security, enjoy the fruit of our labours and there are hundreds of reasons which we can all think of for not giving away too much to others. However today is a day in which we can think deeply about out attitudes and how our lives affect others.
There is no doubt that it is absolutely impossible to justify corrupt business practice to exploit others. The bible condemns those who use weighted scales to cheat, the same condemnation would be directed by Jesus towards car manufacturers and their clever computer cheat devices which put profits before the health of those who will suffer from pollution.
Wealth is also a factor in the challenge made by the Pope with regard to climate change. Those who deny the existence of climate change must be very careful that this is not used as a justification not to make changes to protect our planet and the millions who could die from flooding and changing weather events.
It is often said that the fault is not in the possession of things in themselves, but rather how tightly we cling to them or how we use them, selfishly or wisely. Jesus is clear that the focus of our lives is what matters, for that focus will determine how we use our possessions. The parable is raw in its presentation of the fragility of life, this means that we must place our trust on something much reliable than possessions.
Parables are not simple teachings, they are complex and raise difficult issues, not easy answers. There is the he temptation is to think that the parable is only talking to the rich and therefore it is not about me. The fact is that people who have relatively little can be every bit as greedy as the rich and can be just as out of focus in life as anybody else. Then there is the problem of thinking that we can just give everything up and live a life of complete frugality and presume that we have passed the test. Such a life can be every bit as indulgent and lead to a false sense of holiness which expresses itself in criticism of others who are different. Remember, Jesus was never one to refuse a good celebration, behaviour which caused him to be accused of being a drunken party goer. Charles Royden

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

God of grace, as you are ever at work in your creation, so fulfil your wise and loving purpose in us and in all for whom we pray, that with them and in all that you have made, your glory may be revealed and the whole earth give praise to you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. All Amen.

May God who clothes the lilies and feeds the birds of the sky, who leads the lambs to pasture and the deer to water, who multiplied loaves and fishes and changed water into wine, lead us, feed us, multiply us, and change us to reflect the glory of our Creator through all eternity; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.


The Pope has recently been in America stirring things up by making some very strong political statements. One of the issues which has caused attention was his call for action on climate change. he supported the statements which have been made by President Barak Obama about cutting carbon emissions and he was critical of climate change deniers for failing in their duty to protect our ‘common home’. He said that tackling climate change was a moral issue.

Pope Francis said
“Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.”

The Pope said
Mr President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution.’

These words could not have come at a more poignant moment for in the same week we learned that Volkswagen have been fiddling their car emissions data to conceal how much pollution is coming out of the exhausts of their diesel cars. The Pope could not have timed his words more carefully, it was almost as though he was inspired - perhaps he was. Clearly people at Volkswagen were not inclined to consider the environment, and who knows how many other cars or manufacturers may be involved across the world. They had decided that a little software programme (a cheat device) inserted into the computer system of the car could conceal in tests the extent of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) which would normally be emitted from the car. The real levels could be 40 times more than the test indicated.

Not everybody believes that climate change is happening. The front runner for Republican presidential candidate Mr Donald Trump said that climate change was just ‘weather.’ However even Mr Trump had to agree that clean air was important. Volkswagen had decided that profits from selling their cars was more important than caring for the environment or people who might inhale the polluted air.

The Gospel writer of Luke would I am sure have recoded Jesus teaching about this if the issue had been around in first century Palestine. Luke has a major concern about wealth and resources and how they are used, this is a theme which we will see as we start to look at this Gospel. Almost every chapter of both his Gospel and also the Acts of the Apostles, the second part of his work, has reference to money and materials resources and how they are used. When the Pope denounces those who pollute the world, plunder our resources and put profit before people, he is speaking words which could have come straight from the mouth of Jesus. Jesus is concerned for the poor and denounces their exploitation by wealthy individuals or organisations. Jesus repeatedly teaches that pursuit of wealth brings with it inherent responsibilities and dangers.  

Hymns and Psalms

  1. Come, ye thankful people, come

  2. We eat the plants that grow from the seed (Tune: Country Garden)

  3. Praise and thanksgiving (Tune Bunessan)

  4. Praise God for the harvest (Tune: Stowey)

  5. We plough the fields, and scatter

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Let us offer our prayers to God for the life of the world
and for all God’s people in their daily life and work.

God, the beginning and end of all things,
in your providence and care
you watch unceasingly over all creation;
we offer our prayers
that in us and in all your people your will may be done,
according to your wise and loving purpose in Christ our Lord.
Lord of all life:
hear our prayer.

We pray for all through whom we receive sustenance and life;
for farmers and agricultural workers,
for packers, distributors and company boards;
as you have so ordered our life that we depend upon each other,
enable us by your grace to seek the well-being of others before
our own.
Lord of all creation:
hear our prayer.

We pray for all engaged in research to safeguard crops against disease,
and to produce abundant life among those who hunger
and whose lives are at risk.
Prosper the work of their hands
and the searching of their minds,
that their labour may be for the welfare of all.
Lord of all wisdom:
hear our prayer.

We pray for governments and aid agencies,
and those areas of the world where there is disaster, drought
and starvation.
By the grace of your Spirit,
touch our hearts
and the hearts of all who live in comfortable plenty,
and make us wise stewards of your gifts.
Lord of all justice:
hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are ill,
remembering those in hospital and nursing homes
and all who are known to us.
We pray for all who care for them.
Give skill and understanding
to all who work for their well-being.
Lord of all compassion:
hear our prayer.

We remember those who have died,
whom we entrust to your eternal love
in the hope of resurrection to new life.
Lord of all peace:
hear our prayer.

We offer ourselves to your service,
asking that by the Spirit at work in us
others may receive a rich harvest of love and joy and peace.
Lord of all faithfulness:
hear our prayer.

God of grace,
as you are ever at work in your creation,
so fulfil your wise and loving purpose in us
and in all for whom we pray,
that with them and in all that you have made,
your glory may be revealed
and the whole earth give praise to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Let us pray to God, the Lord of the harvest,
that he will bring to fruition all that he desires for his creation.

Lord of creation,
we see that the fields are ripe for harvesting:
we pray for your Church,
that it may be ready to gather fruit for eternal life.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

You have created the universe by your eternal Word,
and have blessed humankind in giving us dominion over the earth:
we pray for the world,
that we may honour and share its resources,
and live in reverence for the creation
and in harmony with one another.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

Your Son has promised that the Spirit will lead us into all truth:
we pray for the community in which you have set us,
for one another and for ourselves,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

You have given your people a rich land,
yet by sin we have made a world of suffering and sorrow:
we pray for those who bear the weight of affliction,
that they may come to share the life of wholeness and plenty.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

Your Son Jesus Christ is the first-fruits of the resurrection
and will reap the harvest of the dead at the end of time:
we pray that he will gather us all together
with those who have gone before
in the banquet of the age to come.
Lord of the harvest,
in your mercy hear us.

Source of all life
and giver of all that is good,
hear our prayers and grant us all that is in accordance with your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


"My sisters the birds, much are you beholden to God your Creator, and always and in every place should you praise him. He has given you the freedom to fly wherever you wish and he has clothed you so fully. Moreover he preserved your kind in the ark of Noah so that you might not die out. Again, you are beholden to him for the very air that he has given to you. Furthermore, you do not sow nor reap yet God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains from which you drink, He gives you mountains and valleys as places of refuge and the tall trees in which to build your nests. Because you do not know how to sew or spin, God clothes you and your young: you can see how much God loves you in that he gives you so much. Guard yourselves therefore my sisters the birds from the sin of ingratitude and be ever mindful to give praise to God." From The Little Flowers of St. Francis.

"For this I thank you, that you have created me in your image, and placed your wonders under my hands, so that I may know them and rejoice in the works of your Creation. I pray to you, eternal God, give me understanding and wisdom, that I might not misuse your creation but make use of it only for my needs, for the good of my neighbour, myself and my family. Give me gratitude for all your gifts, so that my mind does not say: 'This is mine, I have bought it. I will possess it alone. I am noble with it, majestic and beautiful; It belongs to me because of this honour and glory.' All this comes from the devil and the grievous fall of Adam." Jacob Boehme. The Way to Christ.

Lord, may I love all thy creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. May I love the animals: thou hast given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Let me not harass them; let me not deprive them of their happiness; let me not work against thy intent. For I acknowledge unto thee that all is like an ocean - flowing and blending - and that to withhold any measure of from anything in thy universe is to withhold that same measure from thee. (Adapted from The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky.)

Praise (Based on psalm 8)

God, when we think about your creation, we’re amazed;
We walk through a masterpiece every day.
Your imagination has created such beauty.
We can never come to the end of your wonders.
How incredible it is that you’ve trusted us to take care
Of your prized possession!
You’ve shown us how to sustain life:
Help us to use this knowledge for the good of your world,
The benefit of your people and the glory of your name.
We praise you, painter of creation’s harvests!  (Christian Aid)

God, you are more generous than the most loving parent; yet we depend on the harvests of other lands, and the labours of people of many races. Make us grateful for what they do for us; help us to trade in such a way that we may not exploit others, and to share our plenty with those in need; that none may go hungry while your earth yields so abundantly. Amen

Father God, give to all who work the land, wisdom to understand your laws, and to co-operate with your wise ordering of the world: and grant that the bountiful fruits of the earth may not be hoarded by the selfish or squandered by the foolish, but that all who work may share abundantly in the harvest of the soil. Amen

Forgive us Lord, for thinking of ourselves more than others; for eating too much without considering those who have nothing at all; for our lack of diligence in searching for ways to share our riches with the hungry and the thirsty. Your Son came to earth that everyone might be blessed and forgiveness offered to the penitent. Amen

May God the Father bless you, who first sowed the seeds of eternal life in your hearts, may God the Son bless you, who nurtures you with the rain and sunshine of love; may God the Holy Spirit bless you, who brings us all to fruition; and may the blessing of God Almighty be among you and remain with you always. Amen


Additional Material


Harvest Thanksgiving Lectionary Bible Readings

Year A
Deuteronomy 8.7-18 or Deuteronomy 28.1-14, Psalm 65, 2 Corinthians 9.6-15, Luke 12.16-30 or Luke 17.11-19

Year B
Joel 2.21-27, Psalm 126, 1 Timothy 2.1-7 or 1 Timothy 6.6-10, Matthew 6.25-33

Year C
Deuteronomy 26.1-11, Psalm 100, Philippians 4.4-9 or Revelation 14.14-18, John 6.25-35



The words we have today from Matthew’s Gospel are taken from the Sermon on the Mount. In this address of Jesus to his followers, he lays out for them a new way of living. Some of the things which Jesus says surprise us, because he teaches that happiness and blessing are found in living in a way which is completely contrary to our natural inclinations. The way of life which we might expect will bring personal gratification and reward will instead lead to deep dissatisfaction. Jesus tells his people that they will be blessed in ways that the world around will fail to understand. Of course this has never changed and the same problems which beset human life then are just the same as ever before, and we can learn much from these words of Jesus about how to live satisfied and fulfilled lives which are pleasing to God.

It is clear that the expected values of society around us must be challenged radically. Jesus teaches that happiness is not to be found in an accumulation of wealth and possessions, or working hard to achieve positions of power. Those who will receive God’s blessing and find real happiness will be those who show mercy, who work for peace and care for others. Blessedness is found in poverty rather that possessions. Jesus is telling his followers that he wants them to live by a new way, in which they consider not the accumulation of things for themselves, but rather the well being of others.

Shifting our attention onto the needs and welfare of others is counter intuitive. At the time this involved a radically different kind of religion than the people thought that God was calling them to. Think, through the pages of the Old Testament, we have read that God wanted his people to conquer lands, seize territory, kill anybody who opposed them. Genocide, mass killings of anybody who stood in the way, this was what the people believed God wanted them to do. Now with Jesus comes a completely new way. And Jesus makes the point physically by taking the people up on a mountain, just like Moses and sitting down and handing out this new way of life, just as Moses had previously delivered God’s commands.

Now there is a new ways of being God’s people. No longer should people murder and kill, neither should they look for retribution. Instead the life of those who follow Jesus should be characterised by kindness and forgiveness. Indeed so radical was this new way of living that the believer must love enemies. In his new way of living, Jesus teaches that piety must be something done in private, just as giving must be something done not to gain attention.

Jesus summarised much of this teaching in The Lord’s Prayer which he gave to his disciples. It reminds the follower of Jesus that they must only ask God for ‘daily bread’, not luxuries or blessings. It commits the follower of Jesus to being forgiving of others, mindful that we all stand in need of forgiveness.

The new way of living has much to say about personal wealth and possessions and in that it is very appropriate for harvest. We all realise that having lots of things does not bring any happiness. The sad and miserable lives of so many rich people is a stark reminder that our lives are just as easily damaged by wealth as enhanced. Jesus knows that looking for fulfilment in earthly things is a waste of time, these things are transitory, and he makes the point that moths and rust can destroy so many things which we imagine to be of value. If we fashion our lives on the standards of the rat race we will miss the holy things of the kingdom which have enduring value.
One of the most important things which Jesus teaches is that heaven cannot wait. We must not put off today the life of the kingdom which we wait for. We must pray, ‘thy kingdom come’ and as we do we ask God that this way of living would be something which we started living now, not an ideal for what heaven will be like in the future when we die.

In Chapter 25 of this Gospel of Matthew, just before the passion and resurrection of Jesus, there is a passage of warning about the last judgement. Jesus speaks about the separation of the sheep and the goats when the kingdom will be given to those the Father has blessed. Those who inherit the kingdom will be those whose lives have been characterised by acts of kindness and generosity. These people will have used their time on earth to visit the sick, they will have shared their wealth with the hungry and the suffering. Today at harvest time we look for ways in which we can share what we have in a spirit of generosity and kindness. Looking for ways in which we can share from our abundance and help the poor, the suffering and all of those who are opportunities for us to partake of God’s kingdom.


Harvest can be a bit of a back slapping exercise. Didn't we do well, we grew all these wonderful things and then we went all around the world and collected the most amazing things produced in other countries. We can refrigerate and freeze, we can put things in cans and ensure that we have as much as we want, almost whenever we want it. Harvest is rightly a time when we thank God for the abundance of the harvest. We should be grateful for all manner of things, from the field and the sea, but also the work of those associated with factory, mine,  school and many other areas of life.

But this year I would like us to reflect upon the cost of turning out increased production and greater yields. Harvest is a time for thinking about all that has been produced, but we need to reflect upon the cost of production as well. When the world was created God gave to us a solemn responsibility to care and he put boundaries upon the actions of the people he created. The story of Adam in a garden is a simple one but it has a powerful message. God gave Adam and Eve much to do, he expected them to work, but he commanded that they should not eat of the tree. There were boundaries placed upon their behaviour. Just because they were able to eat, did not mean that they should.

Today we are faced with the same choices. We are expected by God to work, yet there are restrictions placed upon what we should do. Our farming methods, our industrial progress, our economic systems - all of these have a price. Other people around the world sometimes suffer as a result of our consumption. There is a growing weight of evidence that the activities of human beings are having quite dramatic effects upon our climate as well as the old familiar problems of pollution.

Harvest is a wonderful time of year, but now perhaps more than ever before, it is a time when we need to also ask ourselves whether our greed has produced real need. If the cost of world development is global warming and the associated weather problems, then we have to dedicate ourselves to thinking how we are going to help those people who will suffer from the worst effects of flood and famine.

As Christians we need to understand the terrible cost of our harvesting of the world resources. There has been terrible damage done to the earth over the past years and our capability to do lasting damage increases every year. We have destroyed forests all over the world, and the removal of trees has caused erosion which has washed away topsoil which took thousands of years to form. Many of the worlds rivers and lakes are drying up as we extract water without thought of the consequences for aquatic life or local human need. Our intensive factory farming methods can cause lasting damage to the environment. Often the damage done by the use of insecticides and chemicals is not properly considered. Our desire for cheap fuel to power our increased production and satisfy consumerism, has produced acid rain and global warming which may have drastic consequences. It is against this background that we need to be reminded of the cost of the harvest.

Christians need to responsibly engage and share in thinking through the potential costs of supposed gains in production.  The answers are as difficult as the questions posed and as Christians we can never jump on bandwagons or suggest simplistic solutions. However what is clear is that just because our technology or science is able to do something, doesn’t mean we should allow it to happen. There are trees with forbidden fruit and the voice of Christian people should be heard whenever it is proposed that society should eat from them. Charles Royden


Today many of us live in towns and our contacts with the countryside are slight. We do not know much about seasons, farming and the agricultural calendar. Much of our food is processed and packaged, we don’t get it from the field and the farm, instead we get it from Tesco or Sainsbury’s. We can now easily buy imported fruit and vegetables which are not in season in our own country.

However, this doesn’t mean that we cannot celebrate harvest in a meaningful way. Actually we could say that harvest is more important now because we need to be reminded of our dependence on God and our responsibility to treat the world properly. We must not become just indiscriminate consumers, unaware and unconcerned about how our food is produced. We now have the potential to do so much damage to our world so this is very important.

Harvest is a time to focus upon our environment, to thank God for it, and consider our responsibility for our environment. Issues such as genetics, animal husbandry, pollution—all of these are in sharp focus at Harvest. (I was interested to read a paper this week circulated by John Stubbs at St Mark’s, it was from the Methodist Church concerning genetics and it is available for home group study.)

Harvest falls in the time of the Christian calendar with a liturgical colour of green - this is a good colour with all of its ecological and environmental connotations. The message of the ecological movement is that we all have an impact upon the natural world. We are all consumers or producers, so we are all links in a long chain of action which can either protect or destroy our natural environment. God put mankind into the Garden of Eden ‘to till it and keep it’ Genesis 2:15.

With our increasing technology we are able to till the earth more than ever before. With the aid of science we are able to turn waste animal products into food for the same animals, and we are able to change the substance of plants and animals so that they can resist disease or be more productive. The ability to make a crop resist pests might bring food and life to millions. However this same technology also puts us at risk, as never before of being unable to keep the earth and its resources in the condition in which we have inherited it from previous generations.

Harvest festivals, while giving us the chance to thank God for the riches of the natural world, also present us with the more solemn task of contemplating our responsibilities to nature. In more and more Harvest Festival services Christians must give thanks to God but accompany those thanks with promises to keep our environment safe, which is the means of all future harvests. Harvest is about how we use the things which God has given to us. We can use God’s gifts wisely for our benefit and share them with others, or we can abuse them. God gives to us resources which we can do many different things with. Some of those things are worthwhile and some of those things are very destructive. I think especially of the passage in the bible which speaks about a day when we will learn to use resources wisely. Instead of using metal to make swords we would use it to make ploughshares, instead of using it to make knives we would make pruning hooks. ‘Swords into ploughshares, Knives into pruning hooks’ Today this might say ‘Bombs into buckets.’ Today we each need to ask ourselves how we can use the gifts God has given us wisely, for the benefit of all and not just for ourselves.    Charles Royden

Harvest Commentary

Harvest Festival dates from pagan times and gives thanks for a successful harvest. For the Jews feasts were held in celebration of good harvests several times a year. Jesus refers to the grape harvest in today's reading from Matthew.

Jesus uses it to illustrate that the Pharisees had really lost the plot. They were so afraid that the Jews might be exiled to Babylon again, that they thought if they kept every law, both the written laws of Moses and the oral traditional law of their ancestors, that God would keep them safe in Jerusalem. Because it was so difficult to keep all these laws, rather than drawing people to God they had the opposite effect, they began to put barriers in their way. The Pharisees were misusing the gifts and responsibilities which had been entrusted to them and Jesus spoke out against this abuse. 

Rather than preparing the ground and making it fertile and ready for the harvest it was becoming more bleak and barren by the day. Not only had the Pharisees misused the gifts of God, most importantly they did not recognise the greatest gift which God had given the world, His Son. They liked to listen to Jesus, but they thought His ideas were too radical. Jesus told them repeatedly that they kept the letter of the law, but lost the spirit; they made a show of loving God with their public prayers, but they didn't have compassion for people and the harvest was being lost.

God has given us many gifts, some of which we celebrate through the harvest festival. We remember His goodness and provision for us and are challenged to use His gifts wisely. Many people are less fortunate than ourselves and we need to remember God loves them too, and often could use us, and the gifts He has given us (to look after) to demonstrate that love for them, not just at harvest time, but all the year through. Using the gifts He has given us in the service of others is one of the most appropriate ways of demonstrating our gratitude to God for what He has done for us.  Sam Cappleman


The Rt Revd Alan Smith began his ministry as tenth Bishop of St Albans on Saturday 19th September 2009 in St Albans Cathedral with two thousand people. The service of welcome and inauguration began with a three-quarter mile procession through St Albans and ended with around 100 children from ten Church of England schools releasing 100 bio-degradable balloons each carrying a prayer. His first sermon, in which he set out his vision for the future of the Diocese, spoke about the power of the Church to transform communities. He said: “Might we become a church known for our overwhelming generosity and practical care? Can we be right there at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals, working for a world where children are not dying through lack of food or medicine? Can we be at the forefront of protecting the environment? Can we, in the name of Christ, make a real difference? He also had a message relevant to all people in these difficult economic times and during national anxiety about health scares, climate change and conflicts abroad. Bishop Alan said: “Happiness is a by-product and not an end in itself.” He continued: “Go into any bookshop on the High Street and you will find shelves of self-help books on how to find happiness. But Jesus Christ taught that happiness is not an end in itself. It is a by-product. He tells us that we find our deepest and our truest humanity in knowing and being known by God. “We are living in an age which tends to reduce everything to measurable outcomes, so that education is judged solely in terms of exam results and health is measured by how many medical interventions are successful. In contrast the good news reminds us that the most important and the most valuable things in life are relationships. If you are not convinced, think about the frantic phone messages left by passengers in New York on that fateful day that’s come to be known as 9/11. They didn’t talk about money or their house or their holidays. Instead they spoke passionately of their love.”


A Celtic Parable St. Comgan (D 8th century) and the Jewels
St Comgan was the son of a prince of Leinster, Ireland, and the brother of St. Kentigern. Wounded by neighbouring chieftains in a battle, Comgan fled with his sister and her children to Scotland. He settled in Lochaise, near Skye. There he built a monastery. He was buried on Iona.

St. Comgan heard about a miser who owned a fabulou s collection of jewels. The miser kept the jewels in a safe. Comgan called on the miser, and said: "I hear you have a fabulous collection of jewels. Would you allow me to see them?"
The miser replied: "It would be a pleasure. I haven't looked at them myself for many years, so I too shall enjoy seeing them." He opened the safe, took out a gold box and carefully placed the box on a table. He unlocked the box, and lifted the lid. Both Comgan and the miser stared with open mouths at the diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires which it contained. The miser dipped his hand in the box, and let the precious stones run through his fingers. Then after a few minutes he closed the box, and returned it to the safe.
"Thank you for giving me those jewels," Comgan said.
The miser replied: "I haven't given them to you; they belong to me."
Comgan said: "I have had as much pleasure as you from looking at them. So there is no difference between us - except that you have the expense and anxiety of buying and looking after them."
That day the miser gave away one jewel to every household in the town. There were just enough with one left over for himself.



  1. All creatures of our God and King
  2. Let us with a gladsome mind
  3. Jesus is Lord
  4. All people that on earth do dwell
  5. Jehovah Jireh
  6. We plough the fields and scatter
  7. For the beauty of the earth
  8. For the fruits of his creation
  9. Come ye thankful people come
  10. Sing to God new songs of worship (Ode to Joy)
  11. May the fragrance of Jesus
  12. If I were a butterfly
  13. All things bright and beautiful
  14. Who put the colours in the rainbow
  15. Praise O praise
  16. Praise the Lord ye heavens adore Him (Tune Austria)

Thanksgiving Prayer

Father in heaven all good gifts come from you. You send the sunshine and the rain, and it is through your love and care that we enjoy the harvest time. Thank you for providing so richly for our needs and help us to share the good things we have with those who have little or nothing.
Minister: Lord in your mercy
All: Hear our prayer

Minister: Lord we pray for your blessing on every kind of harvest that we enjoy. Thank you for the harvest of the land and the sea. Bless too the harvest of factory, mine and workshop. Bless the harvest of research and of creative art. May we work together with you in every area of life to produce what is worthwhile, good and fruitful. May you be glorified in it all.
Minister: Lord in your mercy
All: Hear our prayer

Bring to fruition Creator God, the work of your kingdom in our lives. Make us part of that joyful harvest in which your loving purpose is completed. Help us to realise how important the smallest words and deeds are. Thank you for others who have set before us an example of true Christian living and who have sown the seeds of faith hope and love in our lives.

Lord we pray for your blessing on every kind of harvest that we enjoy. Thank you for the harvest of the land and the sea. Bless too the harvest of factory and mine and workshop. Bless the harvest of research and of creative art. May we work together with you in every area of life to produce what is worthwhile, good and fruitful. May you be glorified in it all.


Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and for whom
the whole universe was created,
we mourn with you the death of forests,
fruitful lands that have become deserts,
wild animals left without grass,
plants, insects, birds and animals threatened with extinction,
lands ravaged by war, people left homeless.
As the earth cries out for liberation,
we confess our part in bringing it to the point of disaster.
Through ignorance, often wilfully,
we have thought that we could serve both God and ourselves.
We were unable to resist the temptation
to spend and buy more and more,
with little thought to future generations.
Saviour of the World, you call us to repentance,
so as we confess these sins,
may we be transformed by your love
and play our part in transforming your world.

The minister will proclaim the words of forgiveness.

God forgive us, for the destruction
which we bring upon this world and all who live in it.
You have entrusted this world into our care,
forgive us for the way in which we destroy and pollute,
and fail to protect the precious resources which we have.
Forgive us when the power of the human mind
is used wastefully, and destructively,
whilst millions are in need of skills
to bring them clean water and basic medicine.
Forgive us when we fail to speak out for justice for all people.
Forgive us when we are tempted to despair
at the size of the problems
and the seeming insignificance of our own contribution.
Strengthen our faith, hope and trust
in the miracle of your redeeming love.
This we ask in the name of your Son,
our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The minister will proclaim the words of forgiveness.


God of love, help us today to watch for you carefully , work for you simply, and rest in you gratefully, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev Christian Le Moignan, President Designate of the Methodist Church in Britain for 2001/2

The whole creation is suffering, and cries out with pain. Our sin affects the world of nature and the harvest it yields. Let us confess our sins against God and God's creation. After Michael Counsell

Lord Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life; grant us never to stray from you, for you are the way; never to distrust you, for you are the truth; and never to rest in anything except you, for you are the life. Teach us what to believe, what to do and where we should take our rest; and this we ask for your love’s sake. Amen. Desiderus Erasmus 1467-1536

Look upon us in your mercy, O Lord, and take away our sins. Be to us both our reward and our redeemer, and defend us against all adversities that may assault us in body or soul; through Christ our Lord. Amen. St Ireneaus, c.130-200

Ubuntu: a prayer for humanness. Loving God, who in Jesus willingly took on human form, come to us again in the flesh, so that in your humanity we may recognise the humanity of others. In these days, when so many feel rejected because they are HIV or have AIDS, speak to us and assure us of your presence so that we may be there for all who call on us. Lord, who dares to call us your friends, touch us with the hands of friendship so that we may reach out to those who feel untouchable. Touch us with that second touch of healing and wholeness of sight so that we may see others as you see them and offer your healing power to these your sisters and brothers. Spirit of love and life, breathe into us your compassion and care so that we may reach out in this place to touch and to share your love with all. Daphne and Demetris Palos, South Africa