Saturday, 26 September 2009

Sermon for Harvest

27-9-09 Harvest
I’m probably betraying something about my age if I say that one of my favourite funny films is ‘Ghostbusters;. I was reminded of a particularly silly line from it when I looked at today’s psalm.
One of the ghostbusters , Ray Stanz, is investigating a building and says ‘listen…do you smell something?”

Were you struck by the similar line in the psalm
‘Taste – and see that the Lord is good’.

Maybe it is a deliberate mixed metaphor – taste and see: or maybe the writer of the psalm means that we can use many of our sense to find that God is good.

We have certainly used our senses today.

We felt the refreshing splash of the water of baptism – promising Daniel the love and presence of God with him always.
We see around us the bounty of harvest – and perhaps smell it, too, if we’re lucky: the apples are always my favourite smell, and the flowers look gorgeous too. Our senses are full of the wonderful things the earth has produced, and we have heard the reading from Joel reminding us that we should give thanks to God, who made this earth and sends the rain so that we can enjoy our harvest.

It may be that we have sneaked a taste of something already: but if not we have the bread and wine of communion to look forward to. Taste and see that the lord is good; taste and remember all that Jesus said and did; taste and be given a sneak preview of the feast which waits for us in heaven.

This harvest festival – especially as we celebrated Daniel’s baptism – I hope you can use all your sense to enjoy God’s gifts to us.
But Psalm 34 says a bit more than just ‘God is good’ – it starts
‘I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.’

And Jesus warns his listeners ‘do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?’.
Harvest thanksgiving isn’t just about saying ‘we’ve got lots of food, yippee!’. It is about growing in thankfulness towards God.

An Australian pastor, Brian Houston, talks about ‘ 5 Ways To Build A Healthy Soul’ and states that one of those is ‘Teach your soul to boast.’
If we boast about our own achievements or wealth, we reveal our own insecurity, but if our soul boasts in God, it shows we are remembering who is really responsible for all these good things.
I think Brian Houston’s other ways to build a healthy soul also relate to our celebrations today:

Teach your soul when to be quiet.
Sometimes we need to just stop and take in everything God has done for us – using all our senses.

Educate your soul

We have used our sense of hearing to listen to God’s word, and so our gratitude to God is not just about this harvest – or even God’s love for Daniel, but about all God’s gifts to all people throughout all time.

Fill your soul with hope
The great thing about remembering God’s gracious love to us is that we know it never ends – God gives this and every harvest, love Daniel and every child, is with us today and every day.

Teach your soul to be accountable
God gives us the earth, gives us the seasons, gives us the rain: but we still have to rely on human work to produce a harvest. And we each have to eat responsibly – too much of the wrong sort of food from God’s
harvest is bad for us.

So may this harvest, this water of baptism, these Bible readings and this communion delight our senses and build healthy souls, so that we may live and grow to God’s glory.

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