Material for Worship on Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday 9th

Rachael writes: We’ve been doing harvest themed assemblies and services in the schools all this week. We’ve been asking the children to think about their food, where it comes from, and who it connects them to.

Think about the food in your own house. Can you see your cupboards, your fridge, or your freezer from where you’re sitting? Open them in your mind’s eye to see the food within. Can you see your secret stash of chocolate biscuits on the top shelf that no-one else can reach?!

As you’re reading, can you see the spot where you normally eat your food, or rather what you set your plate or bowl on to eat? Is it a table? Or a breakfast bar? A comfy chair and lap tray?

I wonder if you can think of a meal that you’ve recently enjoyed eating around a table? Think back to who you were with, what you ate, and how you felt at that meal?

In our first reading this morning (Deuteronomy 26.1-11), the people of Israel are instructed to celebrate the harvest by eating a meal together in the temple, in their place of worship. And in the Gospel (Mark 2.13-17), Jesus is eating with all different kinds of people who the strict religious types didn’t approve of. Jesus said that at that table, with those people, was where he belonged.

Overhead view of family eating meal around table

Times of eating together are really important. They build community and relationships. In eating a meal together, we learn to speak and to listen. To share and to serve. At a table like that, everyone is equal, everyone is unified.

On our tables, everything is interconnected. Creation and people many thousands of miles away in circumstances wildly different to our own are represented in plates, cups, foods, and ingredients, that have come from the earth and been produced by human hands other than our own. In our meals we are reminded of our reliance on nature, our fellow human beings, and on God.

In the church we gather around the table of the altar to share the meal of the Eucharist. That simple sharing of bread and wine communicates to each of us the incredible love of God, known in the life, death, and resurrection, of Jesus. It also shows us something of what the Reign of God on earth as in heaven might look like – that a disparate people is gathered together and no matter their circumstances shares the same bread and wine as equals and siblings.

Every table and every meal can be a reminder of that meal. Because from the altar we are sent back to the tables in our homes and invited to share there the same loving fellowship with neighbours and friends, with those who are lonely, lost, or lacking. We’re sent to bring a little of heaven to earth, to share abroad God’s love, with whatever energy, time, and means, that we have.

Maybe it’s been a long time since you came to the altar. I would invite you to come if you are able, to receive and be fed, in order to be strengthened for this task we are given. And if you can’t come to the altar, the great news is that it can come to you! Myself, Nerys, and the Pastoral Team, would be delighted to bring the Reserved Sacrament to your home to share, just let us know if you’d like us to.

As we pray, and in response to our harvest celebration, I invite you to think about someone you could share your hospitality with, share your blessings and harvest with. Maybe a friend or neighbour. Someone at school or work or a club that you go to. It might an individual or a group. Hold them in your mind. And then tell God the kinds of things you’d like to share with them. It could be food but also your talents or something else that might meet their need or help you to come together. Ask God for help in doing this.

Let us pray:

God, in whom all things are possible, You crown the year with your goodness and give us the fruits of the earth in their season: grant that we may use them to your glory, so that none may hunger, none may thirst, and all may cherish the gifts of your creation, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.