Can we pray for you?
The Readings for the 15th Sunday after Trinity
Sunday 20th September 2020
Deuteronomy 8.7-18; 2 Corinthians 9.6-end; Luke 12.16-30
The readings chosen for this week are those set for a Harvest Festival and so we are not using those that can be read from the Vanderbilt University Divinity School this week.
A Collect for a Harvest Festival: 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 and for our own well-being.
This year has been anything but easy for those trying to earn a living from "the fruits of the earth". An abnormally wet winter followed by an abnormally dry spring has hardly created ideal growing conditions. If a harvest has been achieved and "safely gathered in" then a good price will be paid but those who buy the fruits of the earth will be paying more for the food on their table in the year that lies ahead. Once upon a time this would have been the kind of year in which people would have had to tighten their belts looking forward to "short commons" over the winter and early spring but now we enjoy the harvests, not only of our own land but of countries all over the world. It is worth remembering though that in many poorer countries the production of cash crops for the export market is often undertaken at the expense of food production for the local population. If this goes too far the result is that people begin to migrate towards richer countries in search of a better life. There is always a price to be paid for relatively cheap food and it is not always the one listed on the packet in the supermarket.
The bible, especially the Old Testament, was written in an agriculture setting. The reading from Deuteronomy speaks beautifully of "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley" and it warns the people who would hear this read not to take their prosperity for granted. The words of Jesus in the gospel of St Luke follow a similar theme. They speak of a man who hoards his wealth forgetting that he has little control over how long his life will be.
So how then should we live? Sadly, there are certain religious traditions that seem to teach that we should refuse to enjoy life, a little bit like that guest who you feel that you ought to invite for Christmas Day who determinedly refuses to enjoy anything put before them and generally makes everyone else as miserable as they are. God did not give us the gift of life in order for us to turn our noses up at it! I love the words in 2 Corinthians 9.7, "God loves a cheerful giver". The Greek word translated as cheerful is hilaron. I don't think that you need to be too much of a Greek scholar in order to see what English word is derived from the Greek here. I like St Paul's agricultural reference here. "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever". In other words, there is a rightness about that person's life. And isn't it true that if you use your energy up on hoarding, on hanging onto what you have got, then you don't have so much left over for enjoyment. It is the givers in life who are also the enjoyers. Give it a try even in this challenging time.
Harvest Service at 9.30 on September 27th
We have several measures in place to make sure everyone is, and feels, safe:
Only come if you are feeling well
Always keep 2m social distancing at ALL times, inside and out.
Wear a face covering
Sanitise your hands in the porch before entering
We will have a register of who is attending to assist Track and Testing
A Sidesperson will show you to your pew. The door will already be open and will be left that way.
(We will only use alternate pews and 2m spacing within the pew. Please keep to these spaces unless you are from the same household)
There will be no singing, except for the choir but we will have music.
The collection will be taken at the end of the service , either onto the wooden plate or by using the card machine. (Sanitiser will be next to it)
At the end of the service please move straight outside, sanitising your hands again on the way.
Weather permitting we can chat while distancing outside.
For anyone who is particularly vulnerable we can allocate more isolated seats in the side pews. Please let us know in advance.
For your peace of mind:
Before the service the church will have been cleaned, wooden surface washed with soapy water, and anything else sprayed with Dettol.
Andrew (01905 620259) and Fiona (01905 621176