This afternoon I have the privilege of leading a Harvest Festival for our local infant school and junior school, here’s what I will be saying to the pupils:
Lucky Dip Box
Lucky Dip Box – Children to pick things out to give as our harvest gift. One at a time (6). – will come back to that later. (ask each child if they like what they have picked after each go)
I’m guessing you all know what was important about yesterday?
No? Have you forgotten already? I’ll remind you, yesterday was ‘Non-human phone & thank day’. You still don’t look sure…Yesterday was phone & thank day…for non-humans.
I’m really pleased that in the church office, Anne was able to take all my phone messages that came in yesterday, the phones didn’t stop ringing, and on these cards are a selection of the messages that came in.
There was a message for Patrick, your toothpaste tube phoned to say thank you very much for putting the lid back on yesterday. Apparently you keep forgetting and it gets very upset.
A message for Mrs Taylor: your office phoned to say that although it was still in something of a state of shock, it wants to say a really big thank you for tidying it up this week. It hates being messy and being called a pigsty and is very grateful.
And a message for Sue: The telly rang in to say thank you for switching it from Stand By to Off-it was definitely in need of the rest and is feeling refreshed.
So maybe ‘non-human phone & thank day’ isn’t real, but there is a serious side about helping us remember to be thankful for the big and the small things that happen every day. Sometimes it’s the really small things in life that we forget to be thankful for.
The idea for the non-human phone in came from a man who thought of it when watering his plants and wrote it down to tell to his congregation – here is part of what he said, ‘I know how much I appreciate a glass of water, especially when I’m hot, and I felt that my flowers really enjoyed being given a drink and somehow I imagined them being grateful. Then my mind wandered to other things that might want to say thank you, if they could speak. We take too much for granted, don’t we? When we turn on the tap we take for granted that clear, clean and refreshing water is available for us. We all hear about the countries where there is a shortage of clean water. Imagine if we had to survive the rest of this week with no water to drink, or to clean with.’
Harvest is our chance to remind ourselves of the blessings we have, to be willing to share them, and to remember the importance of saying thank you to God for them.
Often at home when I was young we would go round to grandma’s house for Sunday Lunch. It was always Dad’s job to say grace and it would probably go a bit like this:
‘Thank you God for this meal that has been prepared for us and for the time we have to spend together. We ask that you would bless this time, and the food into our bodies. Amen’
However, in my 6 year old head it would sound more like this:
‘Thank you God for the pudding because that is the best bit-why can’t we have that first? Thank you God for the chicken, but please make sure I don’t get any chewy bits. Why do I have to eat the cabbage because I don’t really like that? I quite like the gravy, but I don’t like the lumps, so thank you God for the sieve. Amen.’
If only I realised then how wrong I had got the point about being thankful and how blessed I really was. Maybe you picked something from the lucky dip that you don’t really like but to someone else that might be their favourite thing. We live with such abundance of food and luxuries on our doorsteps that we need to remember to be thankful even for the things that we don’t think are that special or impressive.
In Luke 17 we can read the story about how Jesus healed 10 men from Leprosy. Only one of the men went back to find Jesus and it says he ‘threw himself at Jesus feet and thanked him.’ We can speculate as to why the other nine didn’t go back to see Jesus after they were healed, but if we are honest how many of us fall in to the 10% that run to Jesus, throw ourselves at his feet and with enthusiastic thankfulness, and how many of us are in the 90% who forget to be thankful for some things, or become distracted to too busy to really say thank you.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says, ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ’.
This is how the message puts it ‘Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time, thank God no matter what happens, this is the way God want those who belong to Christ Jesus to live’. What I love about that verse is that it’s simple and straightforward – although not always easy to do. But God knows we find it hard to always be thankful and happy. But maybe this Harvest is an opportunity for you to ask him to help you be more thankful in all circumstances and for everything we have.
This next song is going to help us thank God for what he has done, would you like to stand.
16 October was World Food Day. This day, remembered around the world, was established by the United Nations to raise awareness about the importance of food for human survival and well-being, and that access to food is a fundamental human right. In 2013, the WFP fed 124 million people in 81 countries, including most of the world’s refugees.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states:
Article 24: Children and young people have the right to good quality health care and to clean water, nutritious food and a clean environment so that they will stay healthy. Rich countries should help poorer countries achieve this.
While food is in short supply for many people in the world, in the UK we throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food every year, most of which could have been eaten. The majority is, or was, once perfectly good food. Why does so much food that could be eaten get thrown away? There are two main reasons:
- People cooking or preparing too much food (e.g. rice or pasta)
- People not using food in time – not eating food before it goes past its ‘use-by’ date.
With a little bit of planning and knowledge, we can gain the confidence to use up leftovers. The website www.lovefoodhatewaste.com provides some excellent suggestions that can help with this.
Reducing food waste is a major issue and not just about good food going to waste; wasting food costs the average family with children £680 a year, and has serious environmental implications too. If we all stopped wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road!
Fortunately, most of us have food in abundance and never experience the hunger and starvation that millions of people, especially children, around the world endure. Over 150 million children in developing countries are still undernourished – not getting enough of the food necessary for healthy growth and development. The good news is that the number of undernourished people in the world is decreasing, dropping from 920 million in 1980 to 799 million in 2000 despite the fact that the global population grew by 1.6 billion during this period.
Why do so many people go hungry? There are many reasons: crop failure caused by changing climate, lack of money to buy food, corrupt governments failing to distribute food fairly.
Listen to this story that helps us to think through how we use what we’ve been given:
Once there was a strict landowner. He went away for a while on business, so he entrusted much of his wealth to three servants. The coins of the time were called ‘talents’. To one servant he gave five talents. To another he gave two talents. To the last he gave just one.
The first servant took his five talents, and invested them on the stock exchange. The second took his two talents and invested them at a bank. The third took his one and only talent, dug a hole in a field and buried it. He carefully marked the spot so that he could dig it up when he needed it.
A year later the owner returned, and the three servants were summoned to his counting house.
The first one stepped forward and said: ‘You gave me five talents, and I invested them on the stock exchange. Here – they’ve doubled in value.’ The landowner was delighted. He slapped the servant on the back, and invited him to a rather smart party he was holding later that day.
The second one stepped forward. ‘You gave me two talents, and I invested them at the bank. Here – they’ve doubled in value.’ The landowner was delighted. He slapped the servant on the back, and invited him to a rather smart party he was holding later that day.
The third one stepped forward. ‘You gave me just one talent. But I knew that you can be hard and cruel, and I was scared that I might lose it altogether. So I buried it in a field: here you are.’ And he gave the landowner the somewhat dirty coin.
The owner was indeed furious. ‘You useless servant!’ he shouted. ‘You knew I could be cruel, did you? Well, I will be now – get out and never return to my house.’ The servant left, and was never seen again.
This story is based on the idea that a talent is like money. You are all talented, in different ways. Some of you seem to have loads of talent (name some of the sports ‘stars’ in this age group). Some of you keep your talents to yourself (name some lesser-known talents, perhaps not mentioning names). And some of you think you’ve hardly got any talents at all. But we all have.
But what happens if you don’t use the talent you’ve got? What would happen if David Beckham didn’t train? If you didn’t practise your French vocab? If you never wrote a story, painted a picture, befriended a lonely person? You’d forget how to do it. You’d lose your talent, and it certainly wouldn’t develop.
At the end of your time in school, how will you have developed the talents and abilities that you’ve been born with? How could you work at developing your talents more?
And don’t forget – talents are more than academic achievements: what about the ability to help out? To cheer people up? To be there for your friends? Social talents are just as important as academic, artistic or sporting talents.
Have you ever thought that what you achieve in life is a bit like a harvest? We’ve all got talent, let’s use it. At the end of your time in school, how will you have developed the talents and abilities that you’ve been born with? What will your harvest of achievement look like?
Will you be like the first two servants, who worked on their talents, developing and growing them?
We thank you, Lord, for the harvest, for the abundant food that most of us have in this country. Thank you for the warm sun, the sustaining rain, the rich soil and the hard-working farmers.
Please help us to use the food that you provide for us wisely and responsibly so that we may be healthy and reduce the wastage of good food.
We remember those who are hungry, poor and ill through lack of food. May I use my talents to the maximum: working hard, playing hard, growing and stretching my intellect. That I may do as well as I can and others may benefit from having me around.