Message from our Curate in Charge,
The Revd James Marston
I had to sit down with a soothing Cornetto this week after I realised my little blue sports car – a missional tool I told the Archdeacon – drank a little more petrol than I was at first prepared to admit. Thankfully I’ve got a fairly full tank and at the moment I’m riding out the crisis and able to panic buy toilet rolls instead.
I am, of course, despite my slight flippancy, reminded of 2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” I think this applies to all worrying and difficult situations in which we all find ourselves in the course of life.
Good news – I heard from our much loved Rev’d Sheila Hart this week. She is on good form, and despite some personal health issues, she is hoping to return to ministry as soon as she can – I suspect she’s already frustrated – perhaps in the New Year.
Rev’d Sheila has asked me to thank you all for your prayers as they mean a great deal to her. In the meantime, she’s helping me with some bits and bobs and, I think, keeping a watchful eye on me from afar! We all wish her well.
In the meantime, Rev’d Jo and I are, I hope, doing our best to keep the ship steady-ish as we approach one of the benefice’s busiest times.
As, ever, we thank you for your support and encouragement.
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us your gift of faith
that, forsaking what lies behind and reaching out to that which is before,
we may run the way of your commandments and win the crown of everlasting joy; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Hebrews 1.1-4: 2.5-12
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them?
You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned them with glory and honour, subjecting all things under their feet.’ Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, ‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Sermon from the Revd James Marston
Matthew 6: 25-33 Harvest sermon
Preached at St Mary, Friston 26.09.21
May I speak in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is at this time of year the church turns its collective attention to marking the change of season and the harvest. As we rejoice today at God’s gifts of the countryside, the seeds that grow, the crops and fruits, and land of plenty that sustains and feeds us in our lives we can reflect that the harvest process itself has changed. The steam engines, the wheat shocks, the threshing drums, the horse powered transport have all largely disappeared.
Wheat, for example, is much less tall than it used to be, and wheat is harvested earlier in the year than ever before. The harvest takes a matter of days rather than weeks. Far less people work on the land than they used to. Modern technology has changed everything.
What hasn’t changed, of course, is God and the thanks we offer to Him here today and in other churches across the land. Harvest Festival remains an important part of our calendar and is a way of thanking God for the world around us and for being in our lives.
We may change and develop during the course of our lives, we grow up, we stop being children and we move on through life, but God remains God. I find some comfort in this, that the God I worship is always there and a constant in my own life.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus urges his followers not to worry. Not to worry about what they eat, wear, or drink – to strive not for those things but for the Kingdom of God above all things. To put our faith first in our lives and see our lives through the lens of faith, to negate the material and self is not easy.
Indeed, this putting God first is the crux, of course, of the Christian struggle – to put self-second and God first. Yet to aspire to holiness, to live a life that trusts in God is very difficult – we might try but we fail again, and again, and again.
Jesus is not the daily bread made from the fruits of the harvest: wheat, flour, water, fat, and energy, but provides a spiritual food that we can rely on all the year long, for all the length of our lives.
And Jesus is God’s greatest gift.
It is, Jesus, as the son of God, who gives life and light to the world and transforms lives. That for followers of Jesus, there is more than just the physical bread to sustain us through life but, Jesus, the nourishing spiritual bread of life there to sustain us when we fail to live the faith we espouse. A counsellor and friend we can turn to in prayer that can calm and affirm us and replenish our souls to try again to put God first.
And for this, at this Harvest Festival, I believe we can be thankful people. We can express our gratitude to the God not only for the world around us and our community but for the gift of His son Jesus whose presence in our lives and in our community nourishes, sustains, and ultimately saves our souls.
We have come together today to bring thanks to God and to celebrate the safe gathering in of the harvest fed and watered by God’s almighty hand. We are giving thanks for the produce of our agricultural community and of our gardens. We are also here to remember and help others who live in other countries where food and resources are not so plentiful.
We come to church to pray, to sing and worship and spend time with God and each other. We also nourish our souls in the knowledge of the resurrected Jesus Christ in the process. And in this sense this Sunday is no different from any other.
But today, as we nourish our souls once more, Harvest Festival is, perhaps, a special time in which we can give thanks for the joy of faith. The marvellous knowledge and trust in the loving, generous and gracious God we worship.
We can rejoice in not only the harvest and the time of year but also in our faith itself. It is a faith that helps us live through the dry, difficult, and arid times as well as the good. It is a faith that also, when nourished and held in gratitude to God, gives us peace and keeps us going amid all the ups and downs of life.
And as we worship together today, we can think of this great gift of Jesus.
And for Jesus, as well as the other gifts of the harvest that we celebrate today, I believe, we can’t thank God enough.
We praise and thank you, O Christ, for this sacred feast:
for here we receive you, here the memory of your passion is renewed,
here our minds are filled with grace, and here a pledge of future glory is given, when we shall feast at that table where you reign
with all your saints for ever.
Texts from Coventry Cathedral’s Tablets of the Word Part Four by John Giles
Come unto Me
Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays
The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
Mark, Ro, & Coco
Weekly Benefice Newsletter
Church of England and Diocese Online Worship
Church of England website
Church of England Facebook page
Church of England YouTube channel
St Edmundsbury Cathedral Facebook Page
The Alde Sandlings Celebrate God’s Generosity
Please remember that your Harvest gifts would be most welcomed at any of the food banks after the services. Of course, you may know of a group or someone that would be in need of a Harvest gift.
The Trussel Trust Organisation
Sacristan Training Sessions with Revd Johanna Mabey
Rainbow Tots has Moved!
Next week –
Sunday 10th October
Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity