NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

3RD OCTOBER 2021

HARVEST THANKSGIVING

OPENING SENTENCE

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God
to whom all hearts be open
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.
There is no room for fear in love.
We love because God loved us first.
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Billy Dewar-Riddick

COLLECT

Creator of the fruitful earth,
you made us stewards of all things.
Give us grateful hearts for all your goodness,
and steadfast wills to use your bounty well,
that the whole human family, today
and in generations to come,
may with us give thanks
for the riches of your creation:
through Jesus Christ, our Lord
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen

FIRST READING
Deuteronomy 8:7-18
read by Gill Swales

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.

Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

SECOND READING
Philippians 4:4-9
read by Annabelle Guthrie

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
John 6: 25-35
read by Rev Steven Ballard

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John chapter 6 beginning at verse 25

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So, they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

Paul writes to the people in Philippians “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” Rejoicing is at the heart of Harvest Thanksgiving and is linked to our appreciation of God’s gifts to us. Gifts are something that we all like to receive. This gift I received one Christmas a few years ago from a young girl called Rachel. Rachel and I got on really well- she was only four years of age. She was the first child I had ever baptised, and I suppose that gave us a special bond. That particular Christmas Rachel asked her parents if she could get me a Christmas present as a way of saying thank-you to me for my fun visits to her.

Her parents were delighted that she had thought of that by herself and so they went to the shops and Rachel chose this gift herself for me. This globe was something that Rachel would have loved to have had herself- she loved Disney characters, and so I imagine at that age it would be hard to give away something that you really would have liked for yourself but that posed no problem to Rachel, she gave it to me with such excitement and joy! The gift itself has its own beauty but what makes this gift so special-is that it speaks of great generosity and love. You see that was Rachel’s last Christmas, she died the following year at the age of five from cancer. So, this gift has become very precious to me -it reminds me of Rachel, particularly of her spirit of thankfulness, love and generosity.

This spirit of thankfulness, love and generosity causes us to rejoice. However, rejoicing does not always come easily, especially if this past year has been tough. For some it has been very rough for they had seen their business collapse; some have been made redundant and now are unemployed; others are worried about how they will cope with furlough coming to an end; some are anxious that the extra £20 universal credit been taken away from them soon; others have lost their homes through failure to meet mortgage payments and more and more people are dependent on foodbanks. If all that was not bad enough, many have been ill with the Coronavirus and many are still suffering long term effects from the disease whilst others are mourning the loss of loved ones. It is a lot to take in, notwithstanding the isolation, loneliness and mental health issues that many have experienced this past while. We seem to take some steps forward in moving to greater freedom and what we might call normality and then we take several back, as we now experience food shortages in some products because of the lack of HGV drivers and struggle to get fuel for our cars. Yet in the book of Philippians, we are not simply asked to rejoice but commanded to rejoice. How?

Martin Rinkart helps us here in his hymn “Now thank we all our God.” Martin Rinkart was born in 1586 in Eilenberg, Saxony, what is now Germany. Eilenberg was a country village with a small walled city. Martin was the son of a poor coppersmith.  He wanted to serve the people in his village, so he became a Lutheran pastor. Then the Thirty Year’s War struck Germany. Not much is mentioned about this war but it caused unimaginable destruction, death, and famine across Europe. All the countries in Europe were at war with one another. The people, cities, and villages in Germany suffered the most. Many had their homes and property burned. Enemy soldiers treated them cruelly. Survivors ran for their lives and left everything behind hoping to find friendly people and some protection in the next town. This war went on for thirty years!

Eilenberg was not destroyed, but because people came for protection, there were too many people crowded together within the town’s walls. A plague spread quickly. Almost 5,000 people died of illness that year in the small city. Soon Martin Rinkart was the only pastor left alive to perform funerals. Sometimes he had to perform funerals for up to 40 or 50 people in one day! His own wife even died, yet he kept giving his energy to aid the people of Eilenberg.

What made the plague worse was that the people couldn’t leave the city. The enemy army of the Swedish surrounded them in what is called a siege. The Swedish said they would starve the city out unless the men and women of Eilenberg gave them a huge sum of money. So,

Martin Rinkart was the hero of the city. All alone, he left the safety of the walls to negotiate with the enemy army, and he did so with grace, courage, and faith. He got the Swedish army to accept a sum of money that the city could pay, and soon the siege was lifted. Despite all the horrible things that had happened that year, Martin Rinkart composed this hymn of Thanksgiving to God for the deliverance of Eilenberg. In German, the title is “Nun danket alle Gott.” Now Thank We All Our God.

So rejoicing is possible, even after a year of difficulties, it has to do with perspective! A lady in a developing country heard that every household in Scotland has as much water as it needs from a tap. She was astonished and exclaimed ‘how happy the people in that country must be! Are we happy or are we in danger of forgetting to count our blessings, and offer God our gratitude? In Deuteronomy reading we were reminded ‘be careful that you do not forget the Lord, and remember it is He who gives you all the blessings.

In Scotland, we have many blessings – if you own just one Bible, you are abundantly blessed for one third of the world does not have access to even one. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than one million you will not survive the week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the fear of the Taliban, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people around the world. If you attend a church meeting without fear or harassment, arrest, torture, or death you are more blessed than almost 3 billion people around the world. If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace you are among the top 8%of the world’s wealthy. God’s blessings and gifts abound! We need to stop more often and gain perspective and appreciate God’s goodness to us.

Not so long ago, famous people all over the world were polled by a magazine which asked them the question’ if you could be granted one wish that will come true right now what will that be? There were some interesting responses but one response impressed the editor so much that he commented on it. The response was ‘I wish I could be given an even greater ability to appreciate all that I have already.’ Isn’t that something that would transform our world- if we could truly appreciate the gifts we have already! We would be content. We would not be so got up in worry or anxiety. We would not be so concerned about image, about what we have or what we wear. We would realise that if God cares so much and so wonderfully for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field how much more will He care for us? He is the bread of life; he is all we need.

His care comes in all sorts of packaging and sadly at times his gifts are cast aside because they do not come in the packaging we expect! There was a young man getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As graduation day approached the young man watched for signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally on the morning of his graduation his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious but somewhat disappointed the young man found a lovely leather- bound Bible with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angrily he raised his voice to his father and said ‘with all your money you give me a Bible? And he stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed since the graduation day. He was very successful in business, had a nice home and family. Since his father was very old, he thought he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. But he was too late, his father died and he was sent a telegram asking him to take care of things. When he arrived at his father’s house, a sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search for his father’s important papers and saw still the new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse’ if you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more shall your heavenly Father in heaven’ as he read those words a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sport’s car he desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation and the words ‘paid in full’. How many times do we miss God’s gifts because they are not packaged as we expected? His gifts are ever present before us we need to stop, open our eyes, see, appreciate and rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” Amen

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS

Creator God,
we pray with gratitude for those
to whom we owe our harvest,
all whose labour and dedication enables us
to share in the abundance of this world’s resources.

Lord of the harvest,

in your mercy hear us.

Creator God,
we pray for farmers at this time of difficulty.
It is a time of so much change and
a time filled with so many complex issues,
linking to carbon emissions and climate change.
In often isolating work we pray for farmers’ safety,
protection and for guidance for their future.

Lord of the harvest,

in your mercy hear us.

Creator God,

we pray for farmers in other lands,
who are denied the resources they need,
to cultivate the land.
We think especially of those farmers
whose land has been destroyed
by earthquakes, drought or flooding.
We remember those who struggle to work the land
because of oppressive regimes,
or economic systems loaded against them.
Grant them all hope, help and justice.

Lord of the harvest,

in your mercy hear us.

Creator God,
we pray for those
who bring in the harvest of earth and sea,
minerals and fish,
a harvest that often involves danger.
Grant them skill, courage and safety.

Lord of the harvest,

in your mercy hear us.

Creator God,
we pray for those
who make possible the harvest of technology.
We think of our scientists, technicians,
computer programmers and engineers,
and give you praise for their gifts and skills
that have opened up new worlds and unknown horizons to us.
Grant them wisdom, ingenuity and care in all they undertake.

Lord of the harvest,

in your mercy hear us.

Creator God,
we pray for medical researchers and their teams,
as they seek to understand disease and illness,
in the hope of preventing ill health through various vaccines and drugs.
We are grateful this year for the coronavirus vaccines
and for the booster vaccines that are currently being rolled out.
Continue to inspire these researchers with your intellect and wisdom.

Lord of the harvest,

in your mercy hear us.

Creator God,
we pray for those
who help to reap the harvest of minds.
We pray for teachers, scholars, writers, and artists
whose desire is to expand our knowledge
and increase our understanding.
Grant them patience, dedication and integrity.

Lord of the harvest,

in your mercy hear us.

Creator God, for your many blessings to us,
family and friends,
health and medical support,
education and technology,
homes, food and water,
we lift our hearts with thanksgiving and praise.
Where there is illness and suffering,
draw near with your healing touch.
Where there is anxiety and stress,
come with your peace.
Where there are tears and despair
come with your comfort and grace.
May your creative and sustaining hand
enfold all in need in your love.

Merciful Father accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who taught us to pray together..

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:
and the blessing of God the Father,
the Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.