Harvest Festival is always a service of worship we look forward to at Ashley Methodist Church, and last Sunday morning our church looked its best as it was bedecked with flowers and produce to reflect the goodness of God, the provider of all things. Our steward Sue Fox welcomed visitors and friends to the service and particularly our minister, the Rev’d Mark Lawrence. Mark called us to worship and after the first hymn, accompanied by Rod Smith on our new organ, “Come, ye thankful people, come”, we recited Psalm 65 together which tells of the Psalmist’s thankfulness to God for providing the rains which water the crops. Mark followed this with prayers of thanksgiving for the providence of God in every sphere of our national life.
There were three bible readings, each linked to thanksgiving, the first from Genesis, chapter eight, in which God makes a promise that as long as the world exists there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest, there will always be cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. This was read by Sue Fox. Richard Lucas read from John, chapter four which tells of Jesus teaching his followers about the harvest after his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well; and finally, Ron Lucas, read from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter six, where Jesus asks us to bear one another’s burdens and he teaches lessons from life, summed up as we reap what we sow.
In our prayers for others we prayed particularly for those suffering due to financial worries, for our foodbanks and their work amongst our needy population, and for those known to us who are in need. We remembered particularly farmers who are providers of our daily food and all who serve us in any way.
In his harvest sermon Mark used as his text “Let us not grow weary in doing good so that in proper time we shall reap the harvest”. Harvest is a wonderful time when we can witness God’s bounty all around us. It is a time when we count our blessings but we have to remember those who do not have the blessings we enjoy and as St Paul implores us to do, we must bear one another’s burdens. We are thankful to farmers who provide for us daily and we pray for God’s blessing on their work each day.. We are challenged to be generous people and to sow in righteousness so shall we reap a harvest of righteousness. A short prayer before we concluded our service as we sang “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land” followed by the blessing.