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  HARVEST 2020

Harvest – a time to say thank you! How many I wonder are feeling thankful during 2020.

Story of elderly pensioner

 One vicar always said thank-you for something at the start of his intercessions. A grumpy parishioner was fed up with this. Then, one miserable wet, day, with the media full of bad news and with nothing to look forward to, Covid seemed to be getting worse again and another lock down was threatened………..


he went to church that Sunday and challenged the vicar to find something amongst all of this  for which to thank God. The service proceeded to the prayers and the vicar looking at the pensioner began,

              'Thank you, Lord that it isn't always like this!”                 


Faith should tell us that it is not always going to be like it is today. We will get through it all.


Great inspirational stories come from times when there after disasters of any kind.

In a Presbyterian church in Los Angeles in 1636, amidst the darkness of the Thirty Years’ War, a German Pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have in one year buried 5,000 of his parishioners. That was an average of 15 a day.

His parish was ravaged by war, death and economic disaster.

In the heart of that darkness, with cries of fear outside his window, he sat down and wrote this table Grace for his children. It is one most of us know only too well:

Now thank we all our God

With hearts and hands and voices;

Who wondrous things hath done,

In Whom His world rejoices.

Who from our mother’s arms,

Hath led us on our way

With countless gifts of love

And still is ours today.

The comment about him was: Here is a man who knew thanksgiving comes from love of God, not from outward circumstances

Let’s think of examples from all over the world of good things that have come out of Covid:

1 - Community spirit

In Eastbourne, hundreds of people have signed up for a telephone befriending service to keep their community together

Councillor Helen Burton said: "People want to do something to help others, which is fantastic.


2 - As the burning of fossil fuels has dropped, air quality has improved significantly, the Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo (Cicero) has said and the impact will be felt worldwide.


3 - 128 professional clubs from the Premier League, EFL and across the globe are competing in an online FIFA tournament, with fans watching online encouraged to donate money.

Each club nominates one of its players to go up against another star from a different side - with the knockout tournament whittling its way down to two teams who will play in a final.

It is hoped £50,000 will be raised for research into COVID-19

4 - The owner of a fashion giant will provide French authorities with hand sanitiser "for as long as necessary" as the country battles against the coronavirus outbreak.

Another big firm has instructed the perfumes and cosmetics side of the business to get ready to switch to hand sanitiser. What's more, it is free.

5 - FOOD BANKS

All these are a great example of sharing with those less fortunate than us and to do with less for ourselves.

3

We also have to remember the thousands of volunteers who collect and distribute the gifts while risking their own health at the same time.


6 - The good side effects we can see during this medical crisis brought about by the coronavirus is the love, concern and care shown by dedicated caregivers, nurses and medical workers.

 Amongst them are our Hospital Chaplains, one we all know very well.

It is phenomenal. It is also an example of the selfless love of Christ in the world today where these people risk their own health and well- being to put the needs of others before them-selves.

The goodness and love of millions of humans have come shining through.

7 -There are also neighbourhood help movements of all kinds, growing online

8 Then there is a lovely story is about a recovered coronavirus patient who saved 2 lives after donating her blood plasma. She says she is still ‘coming to terms’ with that ability.

9- Another positive outcome of the virus is that many people are changing to a healthy diet.

Preda Fair Trade Dried Mango fruit with loads of vitamin C and no chemicals are selling fast in the United Kingdom and Ireland. People are changing to a healthy diet to strengthen their immune system to fight and prevent flu and, hopefully, the coronavirus.

A final example of a good effect of the virus is great good of the dedication of caregivers and medical workers.

Eighty-year-old Elizabeth would not survive the coronavirus if not for Margi Gonzalez, her devoted caregiver. Every day, Margi risks getting infected on her rounds visiting her many patients in the community centre.

She treats any sores, takes blood pressure and temperature, and sees that everyone is comfortable, fed and is taking medicines on time. Elizabeth and others are being monitored for the coronavirus after one member of the community tested positive. Thousands of caregivers like Margi are slowing the spread of the contagion. She was a migrant from the Philippines to Britain.

There are many good people like Margi on the frontline. Many are former migrants or refugees, who fled poverty, oppression, fear and suffering for a new, better life. Now the rich, developed nations benefit from their skills and service. That is a positive result of a sad history of human rights violations and injustice.

Whatever else we have to offer to God this Harvest, there is in our churches the Harvest of the people and what we have to offer.

We can compare our- selves to the fruits of the harvest and ask ourselves, what kind of fruit am I?

Am I full of goodness and attract others to find out more about me and my faith?

Or am I a bit battered and bruised and bitter and the sort of person who puts others off the faith of the church.

What harvest am I offering this year?  

I used to have a fridge magnet which said, “My Family Tree is full of nuts!”

Well what kind of fruit people you and I?


We are all called to be disciples and to make other disciples but have we the best to offer to God.

Let’s take a light- hearted look at the basket of Christian fruits we may have in Sketty, to offer to God.

       

   First, are there any apple Christians. These attract others to come and find out from them what the faith is like. Will the tasters enjoy what they find and be nourished by the goodness they discover there, or will they be disappointed because the apple Christians turn out to be bitter and in need of something to sweeten them up?

      

     Within the apple Christians are the seeds of faith to pass on. Will the tasters come back for more, or will the seeds be wasted?


       Then what about  the peach Christians. Again, they attract people to them to find out more. Will they offer a softly, loving caring faith to nourish the tasters? Will the centre of their faith be strong or is the outward signs only show because within them is a heart of stone!


         Maybe we have some orange Christians. These Christians are made up of many parts. They often are very busy involved with a variety of things and available to many. They offer something for everyone. Do they give the same quality of witness to each person?


        What about banana Christians? They offer a lot of nourishment to others especially when there is a crisis and energy in witness is needed. Some outside the church don’t like the way they present their faith and would like to, ‘straighten them out’! However, that would be judging by outward appearances and God doesn’t do that! He knows what is in their hearts and accepts them just as they are!


   Finally, do we have any grape Christians. These when used properly can offer the sweet wine of the Christian faith reminding others of the wine of the Sacrament which represents Christ’s blood shed for us. They are at the heart of the church.

           What kinds of fruits are we!I’ll end today with a poem I found in a book of stories and poems by J.John and Mark Stibbe

Although things are not perfect

Because of trial or pain,

Continue in thanksgiving

Do not begin to blame

Even when the times are hard

Fierce winds are bound to blow

God is forever able

Hold on to what you know

Imagine life without His love,

Joy would cease to be

Keep thanking Him for all the things

Love imparts to thee

Move out of “Camp Complaining”

No weapon that is known

On earth can yield the power

Praise can do alone

Quit looking at the future

Redeem the time at hand

Start every day with worship

To “thank” is a command

Until we see Him coming

Victorious in the sky

We’ll run the race with gratitude exalting God most high

Yes there’ll be good times and yes, some will be bad,

But……

Zion waits in glory …where none are ever sad!

 

 This Harvest season let us sincerely Thank God with heart and hands and voices, for His mercies still endure, ever faithful, ever sure.

                                                                                                                                                   AMEN.

Amen.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               









I thought this morning I would share some of those stories to show that God is in charge and that ‘goodness and blessings can come for bad things in our lives if we offer them and our selves in service to our Lord.