Joel 2: 21-27
Matthew 6: 25-33
It would be easy to be smug today, wouldn’t it?
The church looks beautiful, the weather’s picked up again, and of course Ellie is gorgeous – and the rest of us have scrubbed up Ok too.
Is there really anything more to say than ‘aren’t we lucky!’ and maybe ‘thank you God’.
But I think there is a bit more to say than that – as we’ve heard from our Bible readings - one kept saying ‘be not afraid’ the other ‘do not worry’. On the face of it they’re not very cheerful and ‘harvesty’ – nor are they particularly good news for a baptism.
But actually if we were to wish Ellie anything at this start of her journey of faith, then freedom from fear and freedom from worry would be a pretty good start.
We meet surrounded by flowers and fruit and we heartily give thanks for all the gifts with which God has blessed us. But we are reminded that people do worry about the harvest, that they are sometimes afraid that there won’t be enough, that there will be drought, or flood, or pests. This is a reality for many people in the world today, even if we have learnt to rely on our freezers, or tinned goods and our imports.
What if there isn’t enough? What if something terrible is waiting for us just round the corner? What if God somehow forgets us the next time he’s dishing out the favours? Do not worry. Don’t be afraid. God is with us.
The reading we heard from Joel were the words of a prophet at a time when God’s people were largely reliant on the food they could grow for themselves, and when their harvest had suffered terribly over a number of years from drought and then from locusts. But speaking on behalf of God, Joel says to the people ‘never again will my people be shamed’ – they should stop fearing the worst and realise that God is with them, whatever happens.
Jesus takes this even further ‘do not worry about what to eat or drink or wear, your heavenly father knows you need all these things. But seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness’.
Once we remember that God is with us and cares for us and will make sure that we have the basics of life, we can turn our attention to what life is really about.
We are here – Ellie, all of us – to be part of God’s kingdom, to be people ruled by God. That means remembering that we are God’s children, fed and clothed and cared for by God; and it also means remembering to give thanks to God and finding time to ask what God wants of us. As loved children of God we are called to love others. So we shouldn’t just celebrate our harvest today, we should ask who around us hasn’t got enough and try to share with them. That’s why we’ve been collecting food for the Cambridge foodbank.
That’s part of what Jesus means by ‘seeking God’s kingdom’ and ‘seeking God’s righteousness’ – looking for the right way to live according to God’s rules, which are about being grateful for God’s blessings and loving enough to be a blessing to others.
So do not worry, do not be afraid. Do not forget that we are all God’s loved children – all as precious and special to God as Ellie is to her family.
And surrounded as we are by God’s gifts to us, let’s be truly thankful and ready to play a part in making our world God’s place, where all will be blessed as we are.
Today and every day. Amen.