Harvest Service for Sunday, 4 October 2020

Led by Revd George Mwaura

Introit: As water to the thirsty

As water to the thirsty,
as beauty to the eyes,
as strength that follows weakness,
as truth instead of lies,
as summertime and springtime
and summertime to be,
so is my Lord,
my living Lord,
so is my Lord to me.

Like calm in place of clamour,
like peace that follows pain,
like meeting after parting,
like sunshine after rain,
like moonlight and starlight
and sunlight on the sea,
so is my Lord,
my living Lord,
so is my Lord to me.

As sleep that follows fever,
as gold instead of grey,
as freedom after bondage,
as sunrise to the day,
as home to the traveller
and all we long to see,
so is my Lord,
my living Lord,
so is my Lord to me.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)

Greetings and Welcome

Opening Prayer

We come before you, our God and Sustainer, remembering that you are our Creator and the source of all being. Out of your love the universe was born. From primordial darkness you put in place all that is needed for growth and saw that it was good.
You have put this world into our hands:
may we recognise your Spirit within it, disturbing and challenging us to care for creation,
for the weak and the deprived.
Lord, we remember that we are called by you to nourish the earth and its diversity of life,
to share the gifts you have given, with one another and with the poor of the world.


Hymn: For the fruits of all creation

For the fruits of all creation,
thanks be to God;
for the gifts to every nation,
thanks be to God;
for the ploughing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth’s safe keeping,
thanks be to God.

In the just reward of labour,
God’s will is done;
in the help we give our neighbour,
God’s will is done;
in our world-wide task of caring
for the hungry and despairing,
in the harvests we are sharing,
God’s will is done.

For the harvests of the Spirit,
thanks be to God;
for the good we all inherit,
thanks be to God;
for the wonders that astound us,
for the truths that still confound us,
most of all, that love has found us,
thanks be to God.

Fred Pratt Green (1903–2000)

Prayers of Confession

Let us confess our forgetfulness of the needs of the poor,
and repent of the ways in which we waste the resources of the world.
We confess our sin, and the sins of our society, in the misuse of God’s creation.
God our Father, we are sorry for the times when we have used your gifts carelessly,
and acted ungratefully.

Hear our prayer, and in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

We enjoy the fruits of the harvest, but sometimes forget that you have given them to us.

Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.

We belong to a people who are full and satisfied, but ignore the cry of the hungry.

Father, in your mercy: forgive us and help us.


May the Lord enrich us with his grace, and nourish us with his blessing.
May the Lord defend us in trouble and adversity;
may the Lord accept our prayers and forgive us our sins,
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.


Prayer of the Week

Loving God, we come to you in gratitude.
We are all so different, each our own being; and yet you love and care for us all.
You nurture and protect us.
How can we not be thankful to you for all that the journey with you offers!
We thank you that you guide us, in unexpected ways, to find the right way in life.
We thank you that when we wander, you draw us back to you,
give us new direction and encourage us to follow where you lead.
We thank you that the pains of life can be overshadowed by the joy of walking with you.
For all these blessings and more, we give you thanks and praise.


Bible readings

Isaiah 5: 1–7

Read by Joseph Vinod

The song of the vineyard

1 I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
my loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.

3 ‘Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
4 What more could have been done for my vineyard
than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
why did it yield only bad?
5 Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.
6 I will make it a wasteland,
neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.’

7 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
is the nation of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are the vines he delighted in.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Praise and thanksgiving


Praise and thanksgiving,
Father, we offer,
for all things living
you have made good;
harvest of sown fields,
fruits of the orchard,
hay from the mown fields,
blossom and wood.

Lord, bless the labour
we bring to serve you,
that with our neighbour
we may be fed.
Sowing or tilling,
we would work with you;
harvesting, milling
for daily bread.

Father, providing
food for your children,
your wisdom guiding
teaches us share
one with another,
so that rejoicing
with us, our brother
may know your care.

Then will your blessing
reach every people;
freely confessing
your gracious hand.
Where you are reigning
no one will hunger:
your love sustaining;
fruitful the land.

Albert F. Bayly (1901–1984)

Matthew 21: 33–46

The parable of the tenants

33 ‘Listen to another parable: there was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall round it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 ‘The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them in the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son,” he said.

38 ‘But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.” 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 ‘Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’

41 ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,’ they replied, ‘and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.’

42 Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘ “The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvellous in our eyes”?

43 ‘Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.’

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd George Mwaura

Opportunism or Opportunity?

Isaiah 5: 1–7 and Mathew 21: 33–46

Lord we thank you for the gifts of creation.
As we listen to your word, open the ears of our hearts
so that we may hear and learn that faithful servanthood in the vineyard which is this world.


A few years ago, I watched a movie trailer whose title I cannot remember, but it left a lasting impression on me. It showed a funeral procession of expensive vehicles driving single file behind a hearse towards a cemetery, and as the camera zoomed in on the well-dressed passengers, a voice could be heard in the background. It was the voice of the solicitor rehearsing the reading of the will:

‘To my nephew.’ said the voice, ‘who didn’t know the value of a dollar – I leave one dollar; to my grandson, who spent money as though it was nothing – I leave nothing.’

On and on the litany went, as the solicitor announced the share left to each of the relatives. Most of them, it seemed, had displeased their rich relative. As the sequence closed, a young man, driving a shabby car and wearing clothes not as fancy as the others, was shown driving at the rear of the procession looking completely out of place. When the camera zoomed on him, the solicitor`s voice said,

‘…and to my nephew, who believed that a penny saved is a penny earned – I leave my entire fortune of 800 million dollars!’

That movie trailer in some ways sums up what is going on in our parable this morning. Almost every element within the story can be seen to represent something in real life. In its original context, the parable was a severe condemnation of the chosen people of God whom he had prepared to receive the Messiah, but when the Messiah came, they killed him.

In some way, the point of the parable is much the same as the message in that movie trailer: a wealthy relative offers the family an opportunity to use and inherit everything he owns – but first they must show that they are in tune with his mind and will. And so, it is with us. The universe God made is his property, which he turned over to us to tend and care for it. God trusts us with it: we can use it well, misuse it or even abuse it; and we do. He does not hover at our shoulder watching to see what we will do with what he has given us. Quite the opposite, He seems to bow out of the picture altogether. That, of course, is overstating it: God is as close to us as life itself. But from appearances, He seems to have done what the owner of the vineyard in the parable did. He turned the property and its potential over to tenants and went into another country, not explaining when he would return.

If we interpret the parable in this manner, however, we invite disaster. Contrary to modern myth, God has not abandoned us; He has simply sat back and given us complete freedom with the vineyard. In the parable, we see the turn events took when the tenants discovered that the owner was an absentee landlord. It seems incredible to us that tenants of a property could conclude that by killing the owner’s son they would inherit everything. But by doing something that stupid, not only will they lose the property and the right to make use of it, but they will surely be put to death.

But before we judge them too harshly or shake our heads too readily, let us look at our own case. God has given us a planet, rich in natural resources, water, and sun without our asking. A planet teeming with all sorts of living things and all manner of productive vegetation. He asks us to make use of it and when we are finished, we are to become part of it: earth to earth, dust to dust.

But what have we done with what he gave us? We have poisoned the water ways and polluted the air; a lot of farmland is no longer agriculturally viable because of toxic chemical accumulation. There are gaping scars across the landscape where we have dug out minerals but not put the earth back in a shape permitting re-foliation. We consume natural resources too rapidly and refuse to take urgent measures to develop renewable sources of energy.

As a result, we endanger all life on the planet. To quote Greta Thunberg, we are in a climate emergency. If you were God, looking in on how we are managing the universe, what would your reaction be? God has also given us the human family, rich in potential for development of community life. But what are we doing with what we have been given? There are of course some happy stories to be told, but overall, things look miserable. Families and nations rise against each other; children, women, and those who need protection are exploited, traded, used, and abused by their very protectors. Last week I mentioned the oncologist from Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge who abused children under his care. Globally, hatred, hostilities and discrimination thrive within families, communities and nations, based on gender, nationality, and religion.

We constantly fight and abuse one another; something that must sadden God, who dignified humanity by becoming one of us in the person of his Son. The failure of the institution of marriage among us is beyond debate. It seems to be increasingly despised by those who enter it, and this must displease God immensely, who ordained it as a holy sacrament.

Then there is the matter of direction. Where on earth can we be headed, with our headlong rush after unsustainable goals? Whose name is glorified when we build empires with our own names on them? Our culture extols the simple hedonistic path of get rich, get famous, get comfortable. But the Scriptures talk about a different kind of getting: In your getting, get wisdom ... says the writer of proverbs. He too wrote in a world not hugely different from our own.

The fact of the matter is that God has given us the world and all that is within it so that we might have an opportunity to know and serve him. But we squander the opportunity through selfish schemes. The logical conclusion of it all is that which we read in this parable: We kill the owner’s son and in our headlong dash into vain opportunism, we completely lose what was given to us in love. A planet meant to be conserved and used for wealth, health, and healing turns into a burning, rotten dumping site unfit for life. Like the servants in the parable or like the wealthy relatives parading to the cemetery, we can start with a promise of inheritance but end with nothing.

Faithful service in the owner’s vineyard is not an easy task. It is more tempting to take the vineyard for ourselves because in the short run, it looks so easy and so fulfilling to pretend we are in charge. But taking such a gamble with the owners’ property will surely lead to our death. By contrast, using our life on earth as an opportunity enriches everything we do. It gives direction and deep purpose to our lives and keeps us from pretending we are God instead of giving God the glory.

So, today, as we celebrate Harvest Sunday in our community, let us thank God for the goodness and loving kindness shown towards us: that he has not decided to deal with us like the foolish tenants. Let us thank him for our creation, preservation and all the benefits of this life. Because living a life based on gratitude, rather than one which constantly complains that nothing is ever right, can make all the difference. But let our thanksgiving be more than just mere platitudes. Let it move our collective consciences, our actions and the choices we make. Let us take seriously the challenge to live more fairly, more sustainably and more harmoniously in God’s world with all those we share it with.

Ladies and gentlemen, give the owner of the vineyard what rightfully belongs to him and affirm that everything we have belongs to him. He has made a promise to us that if we are meek, we shall inherit the earth. And indeed we will, because God is good.


Choral Reflection: For the beauty of the earth

For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
pleasures pure and undefiled:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine,
to our race so freely given,
graces human and divine,
flowers of earth and buds of heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our sacrifice of praise.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)


By Glynne Gordon-Carter

Let us pray:

Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness.
We thank you for your bountiful provision of food:
for fruits and crops, for poultry, livestock, and for the seas which yield seafood.
Father, you said that everything which you created ‘was very good’.
You gave us authority to ‘rule over’ the earth.
Father, we have not been good stewards of your Creation.
We have ravaged the seas, the land, forests, plant and animal life.
We have been irresponsible, grasping and wasteful in how we have treated your resources.
Please forgive us.
Give us fresh eyes to see and fresh ears to hear the messages of creation
so that we honour and treat our environment with respect.

Lord of love:
Live and work in us all.

We bless and thank you, that despite the severe hardships
and life-changing losses we are experiencing due to the coronavirus there is ample provision of food.
Compassionate God, help us to think of how we can help others in need,
and not just provide for our own well-being.
In the UK 1.3 million people live below the poverty line.
Help us to be sensitive to people in need, to help where we can,
and to ‘live simply so that others may simply live’.

Lord of love:
Live and work in us all.

Loving Saviour, we lift up to you persons in the developing world
who are suffering from hunger as a result of famine, violence, war; and the effects of the coronavirus.
We pray that churches here will reach out to partner with local churches
in order to help and work with those communities.
Also, we pray that countries in the developed world will help
in providing food to all in need through humanitarian organisations.
There is no shortage of food in the world.
However, it is not being distributed to areas of need.
Added to that, here in the West there is great wastage of food.

Lord of love:
Live and work in us all.

Lord, your harvest is the harvest of love;
love sown in the hearts of people;
love that spreads out like the branches of a great tree
covering all who seek its shelter;
love that inspires and recreates;
love that is planted in the weak and the weary,
the sick and the dying.
The harvest of your love is the life that reaches
through the weeds of sin and death
to the sunlight of resurrection.
Lord, nurture my days with your love,
water my soul with the dew of forgiveness,
that the harvest of my life might be your joy.


Frank Topping

Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.


Holy Communion

The Eucharistic Prayer

The Lord be with you,
and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is indeed right and good to give you thanks and praise,
Almighty God and Father, through Jesus Christ your Son.
Through him you have created us in your own image,
and made us stewards of your good creation.
Through him you teach us to exult in the birds of the air,
the lilies of the field, and the precious life-giving crops of the earth.
Through him you free us from the slavery of sin,
giving him to die upon the cross, and to rise again for our salvation.
Through him, you begin your work of new creation,
as we look for a new heaven and a new earth in which your righteousness dwells.
Therefore, we join with angels and archangels,
and give voice to every creature under heaven, for ever praising you and saying together:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and God of might.
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
heaven and earth are full,
are full of your glory.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.

We praise and bless you, loving Father, through Jesus Christ, our Lord;
and as we obey his command, send your Holy Spirit,
that broken bread and wine outpoured may be for us the body and blood of your dear Son.
On the night before he died he had supper with his friends and, taking bread, he praised you.
He broke the bread, gave it to them and said:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.
When supper was ended he took the cup of wine.
Again he praised you, gave it to them and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
So, Father, we remember all that Jesus did,
in him we plead with confidence his sacrifice made once for all upon the cross.
Bringing before you the bread of life and cup of salvation,
we proclaim his death and resurrection until he comes in glory.

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Lord of all life, help us to work together for that day when your kingdom comes
and justice and mercy will be seen in all the earth.
Look with favour on your people, gather us in your loving arms
and bring us with Helen and all the saints to feast at your table in heaven.

The Lord’s Prayer

Rejoicing in God’s creation, let us pray as our Lord taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespasse against us.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,

for ever and ever.


Eating the Meal

Creator God, many grains have been gathered to make this bread,
many grapes have been harvested to make this wine.
We look for your Church to be gathered from the ends of the earth into the kingdom.


Please eat your bread with the words:

The body of Christ, broken for our sins.


And then drink the wine with the words:

The blood of Christ, shed for ours sins.


Hymn: All creatures of our God and King

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
thou silver moon with softer gleam:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him, alleluia!
Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice;
ye lights of evening, find a voice:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for thy Lord to hear,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou fire, so masterful and bright,
that givest us both warmth and light:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Let all things their creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness;
O praise him, alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One:
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

William Henry Draper (1855–1933)
based on St Francis of Assis (1182–1226)

Blessings and Sending out

May God the Father, who created the world,
give you grace to be wise stewards of his creation.


May God the Son, who redeemed the world,
inspire you to go out as labourers into his harvest.


May God the Holy Spirit, whose breath fills the whole of creation,
help you to bear his fruits of love, joy and peace.


And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.


Church, go back and tend the earth,
care for God’s creation,
and bring forth the fruits of righteousness.
In the name of Christ we will.