I preached on harvest a couple of weeks ago and here is what I said…
As a Londoner I don’t really know much about Harvest.
So apparently what they do, them farmers in the country, they go around collecting all the plants in the field, and apparently this is a big job that involves things called tractors and combine harvesters (the clue is in the title).
As I said I don’t really know a lot about farming,
So when I was in Switzerland recently , I went for a walk with my host, we went to walk his dog,
I was amazed at this corn that musty have been like 12ft high and I said so,
he said, Yes, we had lots of rain so it grows big
Great, so rain is good for the harvest then, said I
Well, yes and no, he said. Too much rain can damage the lettuce, there will be no lettuce this harvest,
Some things grow, some don’t.
I hope the farmer will enjoy the bread and not mourn the loss of salad, I know I would.
Harvest is a time of intense labour,
a time when we give thanks to God for all that we have been given.
We give thanks together,
For the Harvest and for the sustenance.
Our cultural tradition is to make a collection of food and goods to give to those who need it more.
At St Stephens church Islington collect for the Manna, a project for the homeless and those on the breadline. I’m sure it will go far and be appreciated.
Why are we giving thanks?
What is it all about?
Is it about recognising what we have received from God and thinking about how we pass that on,
or playing it forward?
Is it about how our thankfulness overflows into generosity, replicating Gods?
Something like that.
Do we give as a celebration of the abundant love of God
Humbled by he extravagant generosity of the Cross?
We give thanks for Jesus who is the bread of life.
We give thanks for a generosity that is overflowing,
Overflowing from God to us, through the son, Emmanuel,
through the resurrection,
And from this are we thankful for the empowerment to take on the Kingdom, to be a part of the story of salvation,
‘Greater things you will do than I’ said Jesus.
Maybe we are thankful because we have been there, maybe we have stood on the mountain top and seen a glimpse of the promised land, seen what it looks like, so we thank God for the harvest.
We are the recipients of salvation, grace, mercy and abundant, extravagant love.
We know the story, we know the saying: its not because we love God, but because he loves us, he chooses us.
And maybe we are thankful because the generosity of God is not measured out by what we have done or what we will do
So we give thanks.
The reading from Leviticus (chap 23 v 22) talks about leaving some of the harvest aside for the foreigner and the poor.
Do not reap to the edge of the field, do not go back to make sure you have striped all the vines.
I think it’s about making sure the harvest is enough to go around,
Make sure you don’t pick it all up, make sure you don’t keep it all.
We are asked to replicate the love of God that is so generously given to us.
Make sure there is enough to go around
What does it mean for us in this urban context, here and now.
Not to go back and make sure that we have left grapes on the vines.
Does it mean don’t take all your profit, don’t maximise your business?
Its counter cultural, Its different,
I think its also about our time, how do we give away our time?
The phrase ‘to save time’ is used to do things quicker, to fit more in.
What does it mean to give time away?
The other reading from Matthew (chap 6 25-34) is about the ‘every day’.
Do not be anxious.
Jesus says don’t worry about todays bread because if God feeds the birds and the flowers then why would our heavenly father who has given us so much, not feed us.
Its talks about seeking the kingdom in the everyday.
It is through the lense of Christ, his teaching and sacrifice, that we can view the kingdom on earth.
Don’t be anxious. Jesus says, don’t be anxious.
You have your daily bread, its me, I am the bread of life
Take your fill from my grace and let it overflow to others,
God provides, God has provided
Now we seek the kingdom.
But don’t be anxious
Guess what one of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety in London is?
Not having enough time.
Think of the things we could do with more time.
Think of the friend we could be if we had more time.
Here is a quote from Henri Nouwen…
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
He is talking about quality time.
Walking along side one other in our vulnerability and honesty
Instead of leaving grain and fruit from the harvest for the foreigner and the poor, maybe here and now, in Islington what is needed is time.
Can we take a bit of time each day and give it away to the stranger, the foreigner, the poor?
I guess it’s the opposite to ideas like:
Having good Time Management’,
And being Time efficient
I’ve defiantly used a couple of those in a job application before
‘Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.’
We are trained to use our time to maximum efficiency and productivity to generate profit.
How can we make sure that we don’t use all of our time,
Make sure that we don’t run out of time.
How do we try and get time back on our side?
To be able not to use up all of our time, to leave some for the foreigner and the poor
Get back some time, and then give it away.
Give quality time.
At the Swiss Church we are learning that people want and need is others to listen to them and spend time with them.
We do a breakfast thing on Tuesday morning its pretty simple, just tea and coffee and brioche and fruit.
There is this chap who comes along most weeks. I think he often sleeps rough.
He tells me often that he can get a far better breakfast for free elsewhere, tells me stories of the full English on offer
So I ask him why he comes?
Because he wants someone to talk to.
For him having someone listening to his problems with the NHS and this that and the other is quality time.
He is happy to come a get a second rate breakfast to have a chat.
For the farmer the harvest is also assessing and planning for the next year.
For a farmer the harvest is a time for assessing, looking back and planning,
Where do we sow the seeds?
What was fruitful?
Where do we invest our, time energy and efforts?
What is the weather going to be like?
Will the rain ruin all of our lettuce?
What seeds do we put down to make sure that the harvest will be enough for everyone, that there will be enough to go around.
If you only get one thing from this today let it be the desire to waste some time together, with those you love and also with those you don’t know yet
Lets spend some time in silence in prayer thinking how we can best waste time, and bring time wasting into your lives.