Sunday, 5 October 2008

Harvest Festival, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, Shaftesbury

Mt 21:33-43; Phil 4:6-9
We’re keeping Harvest Festival today, which means that someone today is almost certain to accuse me of being an Anglican. I don’t often get accused of being an Anglican, but ‘harvest festivals’ are often seen as stereotypically Anglican affairs. But, if it’s a good idea –why not run with it? This is a rural area, we have farmers and plenty of farms in our parish, so it makes sense.

In our offertory today we’re offering fruits of the harvest.
In our Gospel parable today, we heard of a vineyard: a vineyard where the tenants who worked on the farm were expected to render to the owner the fruits of the harvest.
These are both reminders that we owe it all back to God.

Now, sometimes, to hear it said that everything comes from God and we owe everything back to God can seem like we lose out, like we’re worse off for realising this truth, and we’d be better off denying it and hording it all for ourselves.
-and I want to say something about that.
Because, to acknowledge God as the source of all good things is also to have Him to turn to, to help when things don’t seem so good.
For farmers, this has been a wet summer, and has meant a poor harvest for many.
For the economy in general, results seem shaky and the future seems unsure.

What then do we do when we feel we have less to thank God for? When we don’t even feel in the mood for thanksgiving?
We have a choice: complain about what we don’t have, or, thank God for what we DO have.
To thank God for what we do have, even when it is less, is an important thing to do.
It’s important because we OWE thanks to Him.
But it’s also important because to thank Him for the little we might have reminds us that it is TO HIM that we can turn in our desire for more.
St Paul reminded us in our second reading: “if there is anything you need, pray for it” (Phil 4:6).
-we can only do that if recall what we recall when we give thanks: that He is Lord.

Giving thanks in our labours, when we labour under difficulty, is also important precisely when we WORK in difficulty:
Often when we work it seems like we labour alone –and this is major part of why we tell ourselves that the harvest belongs to ME.
But if we are giving thanks to Him for the results of our labours then it helps us remember that we do NOT labour alone, He labours at our side, His grace labours IN us –if we will but call on Him and let Him.
-giving thanks is an important way of remembering that and making it happen.

Two other brief things to recall today:
(i) Every autumn we’re called on to have a particular fast on a Friday, and I’d encourage you to do that this Friday. To help spiritualise the harvest, to recall those hungry:
(ii) Our retiring collection, as we recxall those without food.

So as we think of the harvest today, let us recall that we do not labour alone, that we labour in His vineyard and with His help, and as we offer fruits of the harvest to Him let us thank to God for them

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