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Sunday Worship - 26th September 2021 - Harvest

Welcome to this morning's Sunday Worship service, led by Rev Christine Fox (in church and via Zoom).


We normally worship in church each week and also via Zoom, with a recording of the Zoom meeting published by Monday morning. If you are not currently on our mailing list for Zoom please contact Rev Christine: christineamfox@gmail.com


Click below on the red play button to start this morning's service video. You can also find the service on YouTube here if it isn’t working on the blog.

God Bless x

If you'd like to connect with Grangewood please contact us.

Rev Christine Fox: christineamfox@gmail.com


Thank you to all those who have been part of arranging this week's service.

Below you can find this weeks Message. Click here to find the whole worship sheet.


Message Part one – verses 1-3 I shall not want

This week I had a chance to walk around part of Attenborough nature reserve

with another minister. We marvelled at how beautiful it was, and watching the

swans, geese and ducks on the water, the grebes diving for food we were

struck by how they simply depend on God’s provision. And though I wouldn’t

want to be sitting on water all day getting freezing cold feet like them, the

sense of their trust, yes even faith, in their maker was inspiring. They do not

worry about the future because in a sense that is not their job. Their role is to

model total dependence on the rest of creation.

The 23rd Psalm also looks to nature and reminds us of the relationship

between sheep and shepherd – the sheep following the shepherd who leads

them to food and water, and we understand a little more of the way that God

guides and provides for all creation - including us. Without the continuing

power and love of God then all the interconnecting processes and cycles of

life would come to an end. Without co-operation between sheep and

shepherd, between people and their Creator then the possibility of creation

sustaining all living things falters.

Today we bring back some of the gifts that God has given to us – we have

seen that part of the way of God is not just to receive but also to give. –

Thankful for what God has given we want to share what we have – Gratitude

inspires generosity. The seed may be sown by people but the Creator makes

it grow – the farmer works with the weather and the soil to produce a crop but

the harvest is given to share – to feed more than the one farmer. Even that

respect for tired sheep that the Good shepherd makes to lie down and rest

can teach us that good farming practice includes respect for the soil, not to

exhaust it, or it becomes barren. In so many ways the climate emergency that

we are seeing is connected to a deafness to God’s words of wisdom. The Lord

is our shepherd we will lack nothing as we follow his leading by still waters

and to lie down in green pastures.


Message Part two –verse 4- though I walk through the darkest valley

At the Chelsea flower show there is a Psalm 23 garden – sponsored by Bible

Society; they also encourage churches to make their own.

Gill was inspired and planned our Psalm 23 trail around the church; when she

first looked there was an overgrown path at the front with bushes crowding in

– perfect for the ‘darkest valley’ verse. Since then though the shrubs have

been neatly pruned back – making it lighter and much more pleasant. I

thought ‘there must be a sermon in that’! Traditional translations of the psalm

say ‘yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no

evil’. What dark valley might raise fear on a day when we think of God’s

creation?

In this year as we get nearer to COP 26 meeting in Glasgow we are being

reminded ever more frequently of the need to take measures to prevent the

global temperature from rising too high. In response there are people joining

demonstrations; there are governments putting in pledges of money for

countries who can ill afford to deal with the already rising sea levels and

changes in climate that are threatening their lives. Many people are taking

their own actions more seriously, seeing how much clearer the air was when

we travelled less in lockdown, having meat-free Mondays, refusing single use

plastic and so on. But there are a growing number who are becoming

increasingly afraid. – Eco-anxiety around climate change among the young

fearing for their future just adds to the millions afraid for their livelihoods as

their land suffers, and those angry when they feel that businesses and

governments aren’t heeding the call for more urgent action. This is a pretty

dark valley – even for some - the valley of the shadow of death. It is very real

in all different ways – but God understands. God gave those words to David to

write his song of thankfulness – Though I walk through the darkest valley I will

fear no evil. You are with me, Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

If you feel for any of these reasons that we are in a dark valley in terms of

climate change then hear those words. God is there walking with you – it is

God who is inspiring actions that come out of compassion for current and

future generations. And those symbols of the Shepherd’s skilful guidance and

power– the rod and staff – can be your comfort too.

Our dark, overgrown path here didn’t have to stay that way, but with the right

action it has become brighter now.

Take comfort as you trust the Creator to guide you to take steps to care for

creation, for each step together is a step further through and out the other side.


Message Part three –verses 5-6 a table in the presence of my enemies

For a long time that image of God setting a table for me in the presence of my

enemies puzzled me – was it speaking of heaven? I thought so, but why

would I be wanting to eat a meal with enemies looking on, in a place of joy?

Then one fellowship meeting we were invited to draw a picture of it – and

unthinking I drew a table with faces around – all different but all around the

table. And suddenly I saw that those who I’d thought of as my enemies were

there – eating with me – and it was good! Of course! - God is more forgiving

often than we are and not only had God served me with food, but also these

others.

When we celebrate harvest it’s often a time we can invite our neighbours, or

people will feel comfortable coming along because they remember harvest

festivals at school and have some idea of what to expect. We love to share

food at harvest. – Even though we aren’t quite ready yet to have a meal

together in church we still wanted to share a meal so a picnic seemed the best

idea. Some places sell tickets for harvest suppers but I’ve always felt it’s a

time that everyone should be able to join in, no matter if they can afford a

ticket or not.

I remember a harvest lunch at Lenton when all sorts of people turned up for

the food but no-one questioned it. We can extend our generosity at these

times. But what if someone you didn’t like for some reason, someone who

had done something to hurt you came – that would be harder wouldn’t it.

Could we bring ourselves to welcome them too? In Psalm 23 the Lord serves

a meal for me and my enemies! – Who am I to judge?

This harvest festival, let us ask God to enlarge our hearts, may our gratitude

inspire generosity to give all it takes to alleviate the anxiety and the very real

suffering that is already threatening the lives of those we love and those we

might think of as our enemies, knowing that God loves them as much as God

loves us.


Amen



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Mildred D Brown
Mildred D Brown
Sep 30, 2021

WOW

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