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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Sunday 16 October 2011 (Harvest Thanksgiving)

This Sunday is our Harvest Thanksgiving. Much of it was prepared by other people, and based on the World Day of Prayer's service this year "How Many Loaves Have You", which was written by the women of Chile.


So on the blog this week, I'm only placing the parts of the service I have written.



Harvest Thanksgiving Reflection

The order of service says this is the sermon, actually, it's just a brief reflection.

When we come to bring our gifts in a thanksgiving service like this, or even when we bring our offering in our regular worship service Sunday by Sunday, we recognise that all that we have comes from God. Returning some of what we have been given isn't a statement that “This bit's for God and the rest is for me.” Instead, it is a recognition that there is no “me” in the equation. It all belongs to God. Symbolically we return what belongs to God anyway. What we have, we have been given by God, and we have been given it for a purpose.
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Our theme “how many loaves have you?” recalls Jesus' question to his disciples – and the lesson that whatever little bread they had access to, was enough for the task at hand. It was enough, because it belonged to God, and God would make it enough.

So today we think about what God has given us – the things we've symbolically returned to be shared with others – but also all of the other things God has given us in our lives – and recall that all that we have belongs, not to ourselves, but to God.

Silence

Think about the home you live in. Whether you own it or rent it, by God's grace you have been given shelter. Just for a moment, I want you to think about what an amazing gift that actually is. There are many people in our world who don't have shelter, and many others who have totally inadequate shelter.

God has given you the gift of a safe and secure place to live.

Silence

Think about the clothes you wear. If you own more than two or three sets of clothes, you could be judged incredibly wealthy by the standards of many in this world. You have enough. You have perhaps more than enough. God has given you an abundance. Like the lilies of the field, you are always clothed.

Silence

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Think about the food you eat. Some of us definitely eat too much. For us, getting food is as easy as going to a supermarket. Even after the “summer of disasters”, there was no chance that in this fruitful country we would experience a famine. Food is so basic, so important, and so easy to take for granted because we have it. Yet every bite we eat is a gift from God.

Silence

Think about how you get around this city: whether by car, bus, taxi, train, ferry or bike. There are so many things you can do because you have the means of getting where you are going. Your life would be so limited without these wonders.

Silence

Think about the people you share your life with; those who make your life better in many ways – those who sometimes make your life more difficult. Each one of them is a gift from God. Each one belongs to God, and has been placed in your life. Stop and think about the amazing value of all of the people you know – each totally unique, and yet each made in the image of our God.

Silence

Think about your own body. Maybe it lets you down at times, or even chronically. But think about how many systems and processes have to take place just for you to sit here in this church. Blood must flow, lungs must work, brains keep ticking over. Thousands of messages dart back and forwards across your nervous system. Every one of those tiny processes is being sustained right at this moment by God. Every breath you take is a miracle, a gift of God's incredible love for you.

Silence

In the rush of everyday life, we can forget the things that are really important. We can forget the multitude of wonderful things God has given us. But as we are here to recognise God's goodness to us, let me ask you: “how many loaves have you? How much do you have to be grateful for? How much do you rely on God's goodness every day?”

Silence.




PRAYERS OF CONFESSION AND INTERCESSION –

Using “O Lord hear my prayer” Together in Song 741 as a sung response to prayers.


Voice of Purpose: We come today to give thanks for the harvest -
the harvest from the earth's abundance
the harvest of all that God has done in our lives.
And we recognise that God has brought us to a very rich and fruitful place.


Voice of Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the faithful stewardship of the earth
of Australia's indigenous peoples,
especially the Turrbul people of the Brisbane area.
For their respect and love for all of God's creation.
For all that we are able to learn from their example
of living in harmony with the land as God has made it.

Voice of Confession: We confess that there is a history of mistreatment
of Australia's indigenous peoples.
Many people were taken from their families, and their land
with no regard to how close those ties were.
Many still live and struggle with disadvantage.
We pray forgiveness for the past – and for wisdom to share a
better future together.

Voice of Intercession : Today, our indigenous people still suffer unfairly
still suffer poorer health, education and life expectancy outcomes than other Australians
still are disadvantaged in employment and other opportunities.
God, help us to change.
Help this nation grow a harvest of love, compassion, acceptance and justice.

Response (All): O Lord, hear my prayer ...


Voice of Purpose: We come today to give thanks for the harvest -
the harvest from the earth's abundance
the harvest of all that God has done in our lives.
And we recognise that God has brought us to a very rich and fruitful place.

Voice of Thanksgiving: Our “golden soil and wealth for toil”
has brought people from all of the world to Australia,
looking for hope and peace and security for their families.
And we thank God for the richness all of these cultures
and have brought to our society.
We thank God that so many people, with so many experiences
add so much value to our lives in this nation.

Voice of Confession: We confess that sometimes our welcome is not what it should be.
People who have come here seeking freedom from oppression
have been locked up like criminals, for long periods of time.
Those who are most vulnerable, have been treated most harshly,
Forgive us our failure to love the neighbours you have brought to us in need.

Voice of Intercession: God, we pray for all of those in detention centres,
that you will give them strength to endure the hardships,
that you will guide those who make decisions about them,
and that you will soften the hard hearts in our community
which see victims as a threat.
Help us to see the face of Jesus, in the face of the person most vulnerable.


Response (All): O Lord, hear my prayer ...

Voice of Purpose: We come today to give thanks for the harvest -
the harvest from the earth's abundance
the harvest of all that God has done in our lives.
And we recognise that God has brought us to a very rich and fruitful place.

Voice of Thanksgiving: We thank you for the food you provide for us day by day
For the rich soil, the precious rain, the golden sunlight,
All of the everyday miracles you use to bring crops to life
For the animals which produce our meat, eggs and milk.
For the people who work the land, and raise the animals.
For those who work in food processing and food transport.
For all of the many people who together help to bring our bread to the table.

Voice of Confession: We so often overlook the miracles around us
we take our food for granted,
not thinking of all you have done to bring it to us,
or of all the people involved along the way.
We eat, and are happy that we can,
but we forget how many people in the world have too little to eat.

Voice of Intercession: We pray for the food supplies of this world,
for those who live in places experiencing famine
who find each day a constant struggle to survive.
And we pray for the food producers of this world,
that they would have the daily miracles they need
to bring in the harvest for everyone.

Response (All): O Lord, hear my prayer ...

Voice of Purpose: We come today to give thanks for the harvest -
the harvest from the earth's abundance
the harvest of all that God has done in our lives.
And we recognise that God has brought us to a very rich and fruitful place.
  
Voice of Thanksgiving: We thank you for the life of our congregation here,
for the love and compassion that is shared among us,
for the way we are able to share our life, and our love of you together.
We thank you for those who have been here many years,
and have years of wisdom to share
And we thank you for those who are younger in faith,
for their energy and their joy at being part of your people

Voice of Confession: We confess that we struggle to see where you are leading us
Our numbers are fewer than we would like,
and we are at a loss to know what more we can do
to engage the community around us

Voice of Intercession: Help us we pray, to discern where you are leading us.
Help us to serve and love the community around us,
and to be your faithful witness in this place.
Help us to have faith that you are able to work in and through us
no matter how many or few we are.


Response (All): O Lord, hear my prayer ...

Voice of Purpose: We bring our prayers in and through our Saviour Jesus.

All: Amen.





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