Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival as we know it began over 160 years ago when the Revd. Robert Hawker of Morwenstow in Cornwall announced “God has been very merciful to us this year. He has filled our garners with increase and satisfied our poor with bread ... let us offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” He started a tradition that grew to become an integral part of the Church’s calendar. Harvest is a time to give thanks for what we really value in our lives and for our dependence and trust in God. Harvest not only focuses our thoughts on natural seeds and what the earth produces but also on the spiritual seeds which help others to recognise and come to know God in their lives.

In the days when farming was very often a challenging, long and tiring job and frequently a battle against the elements there was always a great celebration and a meal when all was gathered in. Even in an age where there is an amazing variety of food on the supermarket shelves we are still dependent on the harvest being safely gathered in. Harvest Festival services and harvest suppers continue to be enjoyed in many church communities when we give thanks for God’s provision to us and our neighbours in the global village in which we live. Churches throughout the land celebrate this festiuval and decorate their buildings with the fruits of the harvest.

At Saint Faith's and St Mary's in recent years, our Harvest service has featured contributions by the young people of our uniformed organisations, and the theme has been that of supporting the work of Christian Aid in their efforts to help the poor and under-privileged worldwide in their constant fight against poverty and starvation.

Below you can read some of the prayers, hymns and readings that have featured in our services over the years.


God of the Harvest
God of the harvest, God of the land
forgive our greed, our over-building and mass production, our wastefulness.
Bless those who work on the land: farmers, fruiterers, labourers
and those who try to live and work by the seasons.

God of the harvest, God of the seas
forgive our greed, our over-fishing and needless killing for unnecessary delicacies, our wastefulness.
Bless those who work on the seas: sailors, fishermen and women, lifeboat crews
and those who try to live and work by the seasons.

God of the harvest, God of the skies
forgive our greed and pollution, our desire for fast food delivery and excessive travel across the globe, our wastefulness.
Bless those who work in our skies: pilots and air crews, helicopter crews.
Bless our fairtrade partners and those who try to live and work by the seasons.

Make us ever mindful of the true cost to your creation: of our disconnection to time and place
of our disconnection from the seasons you created of our disconnection from you, Creator God.
We pray for reconciliation with the land, the seas and skies.
We pray for reconciliation between nations and a genuine sharing of resources.
We pray for reconciliation between ourselves and our Creator.
We ask you to bless those who struggle to make a meagre living from a famished and drought-ridden earth;
those who are made refugees and are forced to live as strangers in lands without hope;
those in our own land who struggle to make ends meet and are afraid for the future.

Creator God
reconnect us to your creation, to its order and resources.
Redeemer God
reconcile us to your creation, to each other and to you.
Spirit God
renew us to live within your creation, aware of its seasons and our neighbours' needs.

God of the land, God of the seas, God of the skies
bless us and make us a blessing to those in need within your created order.

Ruth Bowen


A Reflection on Autumn Days

A new season is moving in. We can sense its presence in the coolness of the breeze and the quick gusts of wind that wrap themselves around browning
and fading leaves. This time of transition belongs to more than just the earth. Inside of us there are also quiet changes sending us their signals to let go.

Trees of radiant green say goodbye to another year's growth. Their leaves break away, sailing to the ground. They tell us that in the deepest part of who
we are, there is always a call to continue our own transformation process.

Across the land truckloads of harvested fruits, vegetables, and grains make their way to market. Gardens and fields give of their gifts. Growers fill their
baskets and lorries. Sometimes it is only when produce is gathered or grain is caughtin bulk that the harvest is seen in its bounty. We, too, are meant to
count our

blessings, even when the reaping at first looks sparse and lean.

Frost shakes the warmth out of autumn weather and shapes itself into the first hues of winter. We begrudgingly see the signs of future cold and emptiness,
knowing full well that our hearts are not immune to this seasonal direction.

We will wake up to misty mornings full of dampness, covered by clouds that hang low. Wetness rests on what remains of summer's beauty and fog tries
to hide the road before us. We walk once more into the mysterious part of life, recognizing that the inner journey also has its clouded, foggy pathways.

Colour enriches autumn days with the last laughs of lovely marigolds and the visual flavors of rusted oaks and yellowed maples. A blessing of beauty
kisses the sadness in their dying and makes of the ache a tender thing. When our own pain is great we look for beauty and know its soothing respite.

Geese are going south, as are all flocks of birds whose hearts lean toward the sun. They are in tune with the inside timing. We need that same gift of inner
sensing so that we can be aware of our leaning toward the divine and follow what is being called forth in the depths of ourselves.

Beyond us, in distant places, there are other seasons of the earth and of the spirit. Wars with weapons are mixed with struggles of greed and power.
Little children yearn to be fed and old people dream of days when there was peace enough for all.

We are autumn people. We are always called to be in the process of growing and changing. May our minds and hearts be open to this inner season
which is a part of us. May we trust you, Autumn God, who calls us to grow. May we find hope as we enter willingly into the dying that is needed for
our transformation.

God of Autumn, your presence gives us hope.

Joyce Rupp


                                                         Praise God for the harvest of orchard and field,
                                                         Praise God for the people who gather their yield,
                                                         The long hours of labour, the skills of a team,
                                                         The patience of science, the power of machine.

                             Praise God for the harvest that comes from afar,
                             From market and harbour, the sea and the shore:
                             Foods packed and transported, and gathered and grown
                             By God-given neighbours, unseen and unknown.

                                                          Praise God for the harvest that's quarried and mined,
                                                          Then sifted, and smelted, or shaped and refined;
                                                          For oil and for iron, for copper and coal.
                                                          Praise God, who in love has provided them all.

                             Praise God for the harvest of science and skill,
                             The urge to discover, create and fulfil;
                             For dreams and inventions that promise to gain
                             A future more hopeful, a world more humane.

                                                           Praise God for the harvest of mercy and love
                                                           From leaders and peoples who struggle and serve
                                                           For patience and kindness, that all may be led
                                                           To freedom and justice, and all may be fed.



When will the rains come?
Lord, I am so comfortable,
The water is running out of our tap
But on the other side of the world
there are thousands of families
who don't even have a single drop.
When will the rains come?

Lord, try and open my eyes
to these basic needs of my brothers and sisters.
Keep me from being complacent:
let me not just turn on our tap
and forget their desperate need.
When will the rains come?

Lord, you do not see us as rich and poor,
but as one family,
 involved with one another,
bearing each other's burdens,
going the extra mile,
being concerned.
When will the rains come?

I don't know when they will come,
nor do the villagers,
but I do know that I could care more,
and maybe that by caring more
my brothers and sisters
will find new strength
even when the wells are dry.

Peter Millar

We plough the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God's almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft, refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above;
Then thank the Lord,
O thank the Lord,
For all his love.

He only is the maker
Of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower,
He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey him,
By him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, his children,
He gives our daily bread.

We thank thee then, O Father,
For all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
For all thy love imparts,
And what thou most desirest,
Our humble, thankful hearts.

21st Century Harvest

Lord, we give thanks for the changing of the seasons,
for autumn, the fullness of harvest
and the promise of rebirth and renewal,
for the fulfilment of our work
for goals achieved
for targets met and projects delivered.
Help us to celebrate what we have achieved.
Give us discipline to review our efforts
and the wisdom to learn from our mistakes.
Inspire us to plan ahead.
We ask this in the sure knowledge of the resurrection,
the transformation of death to new life,
and the building of your kingdom.


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