Our Harvest Festival this year was celebrated on Sunday, 22nd October and we received many kind donations from our congregation to support our Foodbank.
We were also very grateful to receive generous donations to our Foodbank from several other neighbouring churches and schools including Church of the Resurrection, the Good Shepherd and St. Barnabus, Ravensbury Community School and St. Willibrord's Church:
All these donations were quickly sorted and prepared for collection by our Foodbank Families:
During our Harvest Service on Sunday morning, Fr. Chris also prepared an interactive confession and sermon with a difference. On entering church everyone was given an envelope and asked to keep hold of it. a little way into the service Fr. Chris asked everyone to open their envelopes, which were found to contain a single sunflower seed. Fr. Chris and Reader Mark then read the following passages to the congregation:
Fr. Chris: Brothers and Sisters, to help us with our confession this morning I’m going to ask you do something different. Can you take what’s in your envelope and hold it in the palm of the hand.
This seed is special. It contains life waiting to break out. It is precious and valuable. It is a gift from God. Like this seed, each of our lives is precious and special. God has given each of us a life that is beyond price.
Mark: Bible link: Those who wept as they went out carrying the seed will come back singing as they bring in the harvest. Psalm 126
Fr. C.: Forgive us, Lord, for taking the gift of life for granted and for not treating each other as your precious children. This seed is small. It seems too tiny to be anything important or significant. Yet it contains a surprise waiting to happen. It is a lesson from God. Like this seed, God planned each of our lives to become something surprisingly more than we yet are or appear to be.
Mark: Bible link: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed... the smallest of seeds, but which, when it is grown, is the greatest of plants. Matthew 13
Fr. C.: Forgive us, Lord, for not recognising the small beginnings of your work in us and for not believing in your surprising plans for our lives. This seed is hidden. It remains out of sight so it can grow in secret. The miracle of the seed can only happen as it dies in the depth of the earth. It is a sign from God. Like this seed, God wants us to be with him in secret. He wants to work in depth in our lives. We can only grow as we trust in the miracle of His new life out of death.
Mark: Bible link: Accept the word that God plants in your hearts, which is able to save you. James 1
Fr. C.: Forgive us, Lord, for not spending time with you and for tolerating those things in us that ought to be put to death. This seed is patient. It doesn’t grow in an instant. It needs time and care and the right conditions. The future of the seed is only for those who can wait. It is the way of God. Like this seed, God’s plans for us are long term and the best. He works that plan through the grace of friends, his words and our worship together. But he won’t rush what is so important.
Mark: Bible link: Behold the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until the early and the late rain. James 5
Fr. C.: Forgive us, Lord, for wanting things the quick and easy way and for hurting the very people whom you want to use to help us grow. As we say sorry and put our trust in Jesus Christ who said…
Mark: Truly, truly I say to you, unless a seed of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12
Fr. C.: Give Absolution
There were also three 'Gardens' on the step in front of the altar and Fr. Chris used these in his interactive sermon
Because we are celebrating our Harvest Festival in Church this morning I’m going to talk about gardening. In fact I’m going to talk about three special gardens, which between them hold the clue how our lives can produce the fruit and the harvest that God is looking for. There were once three gardens with three very different sorts of crops. The fruit of the first garden I've got here. Show the bag of apples I wonder what's your favorite variety of apple? There are so many to choose from nowadays – many from around the world. Some look tasty. Some look rather waxy! Some look as if the may be sweet but turn out rather sharp. Here are some apples to choose from the fruit garden. Invite some children and adults to taste a few of the apples and give their opinions The second garden is very different. This garden produces olives. Show the bowl of olives Who likes olives? Invite some children and adults to come and taste them and give their opinions. You may get a mixed response to this! Well, these olives grow in gardens too and can be eaten. But they can also be crushed to make olive oil, which has many uses. So here are some olives to crush from this fruit garden. The third garden is very different again. This garden produces grapes. It is a grape garden or vineyard, as it is more usually known. I wonder who likes grapes? Most people do and they are good for our health. They look good. They can be very sweet and tasty. Which is why we sometimes take grapes to people in hospital. Grapes help us get better. Here are grapes to cure. Invite some children and adults to taste the grapes. So here are the three gardens and their three fruits. With: apples to choose; olives to crush; grapes to cure. Now in fact these three gardens all have one rather special gardener to look after them. All these three gardens are in the Bible and God is the faithful gardener. The three gardens have a message for us for harvest about how God is faithful and how God wants to help us produce a harvest of good things in our lives. 1. The Apple Garden is there right at the beginning of the Bible story. It is the garden of choice…The Garden of Eden. God in love allowed us to choose whether to love him and know him or not, and we chose not to. God never wanted to force love on us and so it meant we chose what was bad for us and for our world. Christians take the mess of the world with its failed harvests and unfair trade seriously and we own up to the truth and it is us who have caused it, not God. 2. But God is faithful and does not leave us in the mess. Here is the olive garden next. It is a real garden in place and time and one where once God, in the form of Jesus, knelt to pray. It's called the Garden of Gethsemane – an olive garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Here Jesus chose to be crushed like the olives in that garden; crushed on the cross in our place for all the mess we caused. Jesus took on himself all the bad that we had brought into the world so we can have the opportunity of a new start, a clean sheet, a fresh beginning. 3. Which leads us on to the last garden, the grape garden. This is the garden Jesus used to describe how we can be different. In this garden Jesus says he is the main trunk of the tree and if we choose to belong to him, we can start producing the good fruit of the Spirit which we can see in Jesus: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness. Jesus described this garden to his disciples on the night before he died (see John 15). As we get linked up to Jesus and this grape garden – this vineyard – this is the way we can be different and produce a harvest of good things that can make us and the world the sort of place God intended it to be all along. As a church, also known as the vineyard, we are now going to demonstrate some of the fruits of the spirit by offering to God the food we have brought to church today knowing that this food will be donated to our Food bank and given to those who really need it.