Today's reflection comes from Rev Graeme Hobbs
First the notices!!
This is the season for Harvest Festivals and I am sure many of us are sad we cannot be in Church singing heartily ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ and ‘For the beauty of the earth’. We would bring our gifts, and I am sure that as we cannot bring them to Church, Christian Aid or All We Can would be glad of your gift.
Also tomorrow (Wednesday) evening at 6.30pm there will be a Circuit Zoom Harvest Festival and I urge you to join in, Graham will be leading it. Here is ‘We plough’ to get you in the mood.
Harvest means many things to many people, but perhaps more than anything ‘Generosity’ is at the heart of it. God’s generous love for us, his generous provision for us, his generous gift of Jesus to save us. In recent years we have been bringing less soft fruit and veg and more tins and packets to or harvest festivals, which are often going to food banks, or even envelopes for the charities I have mentioned or others, perhaps local ones. However all of this reminds us that there remains need in the world and that this provision is not evenly or equitably shared, the rush to panic buy some months ago showed the worst side of human nature.
Jesus recognised that there will always be the poor amongst us (John 12:8), and that to be generous must be our first, not last instinct. All the good gifts around us are sent from God, what our response to the use of them is a test of our faith and our way of expressing Gods love.
Here is a prayer from Iona.
For the joy of a fresh sunrise,
for the hope that each new day brings,
for a love that knows no bounds,
we praise you bountiful God.
But even as words of praise pass our lips,
we know that we have not always lived
as those who are loved, forgiven and set free.
We have allowed ourselves
to be imprisoned by tradition,
captivated by habit,
limited by fear.
Through the healing power
of love made flesh,
make us whole,
to live and love
with open hearts
and generous spirits.
This prayer of praise, confession and personal challenge is apt for this moment.
But Harvest also reminds us that there is a rhythm to life. Of course we are aware we can buy soft fruit all year round, at a price that is not just financial, and a polytunnel can extend the season as we know in our garden. But Ecclesiastes claim that there is a time for every purpose under heaven, when to sow and to reap, remains true.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
It means we need patience. If God is patient towards us, and he is!, then we need to be sure we are patient when required to be. We live in a world that wants decisions now, we get impatient with delay, and want change to come quickly, but these things can often lead to unforeseen consequences, for better and for worse. Our Methodist tradition has within it the call to action, and rightly so, but not at any price and not if it risks the well-being of others, and in the time of Covid this is especially true, so let us continue to keep the most needy at the top of our priority list, their protection and their care.
May what we sow be for the good of God’s kingdom and the love of others, not for our own gratification, so that we will be able to claim the prize of being good and faithful servants of our Lord.
‘Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love’.