October 2nd – “Shout For Joy And Sing”



Round about this time of the year many churches in the U.K. celebrate the Harvest Festival. When I first began as a minister, churches used to celebrate Harvest by everyone bringing vast quantities of flowers, fruit, vegetables and grain, and completely filling the churches with harvest produce, so that every shelf, every window sill, every nook and cranny was loaded with harvest goods. Every church tried to remember everything, so water was poured into a jug and made central (we can’t live without that).
Some churches would put a lump of coal to represent the harvest of the pits (energy). Some included fish because the harvest of the seas is a vital food supply, and so on. There was no end to the ingenuity in making sure that everything covered by the term ‘harvest’ was represented. Then the services of worship always included hymns in which ‘We plough the fields and scatter the good seed’, even if the only field we ever saw was the one we drove past furiously in our cars on our way to the supermarket. Oh yes, industry and car manufacturing was also remembered. The simple concept was that ‘All was safely gathered in ‘ere the winter storms begin!’. Some of those harvest celebrations were wonderful, and afterwards everything was given away to those who could well use all the fruit and vegetables and stuff in cans, and be cheered up with flowers.
In my period of ministry all this has changed. Most churches now present a small token display of harvest goods, and to represent another year’s harvest income most people prefer to give money. So extra special offerings are taken towards some particular project, which will help people (usually overseas). For example, by paying for wells to be dug in villages which have no water supply nearby: by paying for seed and agricultural help where it’s needed. In short, seeing the harvest as thanking God for his bounty in feeding us for yet another year, and by sharing our many blessings with people whose struggle to grow food is a harder task than ours.
The Psalms are rich in thanksgiving to God for all his mercies given to us, his people.Today, join in giving thanks for the daily miracle by which our lives are sustained.
You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly ….
You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. Psalm 65: 9-13
A Prayer:
Almighty God, we marvel at the Bible picture of all the trees of the forest clapping their hands!
Now read Psalm 65.

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