Sunday 27th September 2020
In the name of the Father, and of the Son
And of the Holy Spirit
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
And also with you.
Prayer of Preparation
to whom all hearts are 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 Christ our Lord.
The 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.
On these two commandments hang
all the law and the prophets.
Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Let us confess our forgetfulness of the needs of the poor,
and repent of the ways in which we waste the resources of
Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly, love mercy,
and walk humbly with you, our God. Amen.
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gloria in Excelsis
Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
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, for the relief of those in need and for our own well-being; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Old Testament Reading Psalm 65
1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; •
to you that answer prayer shall vows be paid.
2 To you shall all flesh come to confess their sins; •
when our misdeeds prevail against us,
you will purge them away.
3 Happy are they whom you choose
and draw to your courts to dwell there. •
We shall be satisfied with the blessings of your house,
even of your holy temple.
4 With wonders you will answer us in your righteousness,
O God of our salvation, •
O hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
5 In your strength you set fast the mountains •
and are girded about with might.
6 You still the raging of the seas, •
the roaring of their waves
and the clamour of the peoples.
7 Those who dwell at the ends of the earth
tremble at your marvels; •
the gates of the morning and evening sing your praise.
8 You visit the earth and water it; •
you make it very plenteous.
9 The river of God is full of water; •
you prepare grain for your people,
for so you provide for the earth.
10 You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges; •
you soften the ground with showers and bless its increase.
11 You crown the year with your goodness, •
and your paths overflow with plenty.
12 May the pastures of the wilderness flow with goodness •
and the hills be girded with joy.
13 May the meadows be clothed with flocks of sheep •
and the valleys stand so thick with corn
that they shall laugh and sing.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now and shall be forever - Amen
New Testament Reading 2 Corinthians 9.6-end
The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God
Gospel Reading Luke 12.16-30
Lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are ripe for harvesting.
Gather the fruit for eternal life. Alleluia. cf John 4.35,36
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke Glory to you, O Lord.
Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’
He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you O Christ.
Sermon Luke 12: 16-30
Harvest festival is a time to thank God for his rich provision; a time to thank God for his gifts to us; a time also to reach out in prayer and harvest-gifts, to those near and far who are in need, as well as a time to focus on the spiritual harvest of our life and ministry.
When the Rev Robert Hawker, instituted the harvest festival thanksgiving as we know it, in Cornwall over a century ago, he was starting a tradition that was to grow and become an integral part of the Church’s year. In our own county of Bedfordshire, we see first-hand the grace of God, of land being ploughed, the seed sown, of warmth and water supporting the growth, until we see the harvest. But let us not forget that even in an age where there is a plethora of food variety on supermarket shelves, we are still dependent on the harvest being safely gathered in, whether in Britain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, or the Bahamas, or some other country across the world. And the balance of nature – that our harvest depends on is poised so finely, that disease, drought, flood, typhoon, or earthquake can drastically and quickly affect hundreds of acres of crops.
The effect of a bad harvest in one part of the world can have dramatic impact on another part. But the lack is not on a global scale, even then. In the story of Noah, God promised “As long as earth endures, seedtime and harvest……shall not cease” and we worship a God who is faithful to his promise. In giving thanks to God for the harvest, for the contributions to our community larder that are so needed by people for a vast number of reasons, we also give thanks to God for the gifts of farmers and those who work on the land who have used their skill to support the growing of crops. As somebody still relatively new to the Parish, I am totally impressed at the technological investment that has taken place to bring in the harvest. This was brought home to me one Monday afternoon a few weeks ago whilst I was working from home. I was on a conference call with my bosses in Luton and across Europe when all of a sudden there was the most terrific noise behind me coming from the direction of the school… No it wasn’t the children playing (which is so good to listen to as I plough through work data in my study; but the biggest Green Combine unit I think I have ever seen. My director (who is not known for his subtleness) in a few choice words asked me first where I was (answer in my study) and then what on earth was that (my answer.. A combine harvester I think!) and he was even more impressed/amazed when my answer to his question about how close was – by that stage was about 10 feet! – The size of and advancement of agricultural equipment ( I have seen at first hand) is a contrast made more amazing when I recall speaking to people who worked on the land in years gone by, and as a child looking over the farm gate down the road seeing so many farm hands/labourers in the field manually bringing in the harvest.
Times have moved on, but the farmers of our generation, like the Landowner in our reading, are looking for ways to maximise yield from their crops and to work cost effectively to produce in bulk whilst being ever mindful of the management of land which they are custodians of.
But the Landowner in our Gospel reading was concerned only with creating a store for himself. Did you notice that when the rich man talks in this parable, he talks only to himself, and the only person he refers to is himself: “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry’”
The rich man’s land has produced abundantly, yet he expresses no sense of gratitude to God or to the workers who have helped him plant and harvest this bumper crop. He has more grain and goods in storage than he could ever hope to use yet seems to have no thought of sharing it with others, and no thought of what God might require of him. He is blind to the fact that his life is not his own to secure, that his life belongs to God, and that God can demand it back at any time. and this is why Jesus calls him a fool.
But in some ways we are not dissimilar, we all have a hidden streak of Vanity and Emptiness within us, a desire and a want for more than we actually need. We have this feeling that washes over all of us who are enticed by materialism. Our reality is that no matter how much we have, we are always aware of things we don’t have. We are bombarded by marketing wizards whose job it is to convince us of all the products we need to complete our lives. And so we never quite feel that we have enough.
Like the rich farmer, we are tempted to think that having large amounts of money and possessions stored up will make us secure. Sooner or later, however, we learn that no amount of wealth or property can secure our lives. No amount of wealth can protect us from a genetically inherited disease for instance, or from a tragic accident. No amount of wealth can keep our relationships healthy and our families from falling apart. In fact, wealth and property can easily drive a wedge between family members, as in the case of the brothers fighting over their inheritance, we spoke about in last week’s sermon.
Most importantly, no amount of wealth can secure our lives with God. In fact, Jesus repeatedly warns that wealth can get in the way of our relationship with God. “Take care!” he says. “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions”
It is not that God doesn’t want us to save for retirement or future needs. It is not that God doesn’t want us to “eat, drink, and be merry” and enjoy what God has given us. We know from the Gospels that Jesus spent time eating and drinking with people and enjoying life. But he was also clear about where his true security lay.
It is all about priorities. It is about who is truly God in our lives. It is about how we invest our lives and the gifts that God has given us. It is about how we live our lives - are we fundamentally aligned toward ourselves and our passing desires, or toward God and our neighbour, toward God’s mission to bless and redeem the world.
I believe that we, as a species, need to recapture the virtue of simplicity. We need to develop a richer understanding of the true meaning in the Lord’s Prayer where we say ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ When we pray this line perhaps we also ought to be thinking ‘please help us to ensure that the produce of the earth’s goodness is equitably shared.’ then Being influenced by this passage from our reading this morning let us stand in opposition to the aspirations of the rich man – or ‘fool’ – in the gospel story, as we share our lives, our love and our plenty with those in need around us. Amen
We stand to affirm our faith saying together the words of the creed
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 being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit
and 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 and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is worshipped and glorified,
who 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.
Prayers of Intercession
Our prayers this morning are led by Ann Timms
In Response to Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.
At the end…..
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our saviour, Jesus Christ; Amen
The harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. cf Galatians 5.22,23
The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you.
Prayer over the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
through your goodness we have this bread to set before you,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
through your goodness we have this wine to set before you,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
It will become for us the cup of salvation.
Blessed be God for ever.
The Lord is here.
His spirit is with us.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
It is indeed right, it is our duty and our joy, always and everywhere to give you thanks, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For you have created the heavens and the earth, and formed us in your own image.
In the fullness of time you sent forth your Son, your eternal Word,
who laid down his life for our salvation and rose from the grave, the first-fruits of your new creation.
You send forth your holy and life-giving Spirit to give life to our mortal bodies and to renew the face of the earth.
Therefore with all the heavenly hosts, we give voice to everything that you have made, and sing the eternal hymn of praise.
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Accept our praises, heavenly Father, through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, and as we follow his example and obey his command, grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit these gifts of bread and wine may be to us his body and his blood; who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took bread and gave you thanks; he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way, after supper he took the cup and gave you thanks; he gave it to them, saying: Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
Therefore, heavenly Father, we remember his offering of himself made once for all upon the cross; we proclaim his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; we look for the coming of your kingdom, and with this bread and this cup we make the memorial of Christ your Son our Lord.
[Great is the mystery of faith:]
Christ has died:
Christ is risen:
Christ will come again.
Accept through him, our great high priest, this our sacrifice of thanks and praise, and as we eat and drink these holy gifts in the presence of your divine majesty, renew us by your Spirit, inspire us with your love and unite us in the body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with all who stand before you in earth and heaven, we worship you, Father almighty, in songs of everlasting praise:
Blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Breaking of Bread
We break this bread to share in the body of Christ.
Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
grant us peace.
Giving of Communion
God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people
Jesus Christ is Holy, Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father
We do not presume
to come to this your table, merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy
so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
But you are the same Lord
whose nature is always to have mercy.
Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ
and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body
and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
Blessing of our harvest gifts
Prayer after Communion
Keep, O Lord, your Church, with your perpetual mercy;
and, because without you our human frailty cannot but fall,
keep us ever by your help from all things hurtful,
and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Father of all, we give you thanks and praise,
that when we were still far off
you met us in your Son and brought us home.
Dying and living, he declared your love,
gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.
May we who share Christ's body live his risen life;
we who drink his cup bring life to others;
we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.
Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,
so we and all your children shall be free,
and the whole earth live to praise your name;
through Christ our Lord.
May God our creator,
who clothes the lilies and feeds the birds of the air,
bestow on you his care
and increase the harvest of your righteousness;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.
Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is included in this service, is copyright The Archbishops’ Council 2000
Common Worship: Times and Seasons material from which is included in this service, is copyright The Archbishop’s Council 2006