Harvest/Scarecrow Festival Sunday 27th September 2015
Matthew 6. 25-33
Be happy dont worry was the refrain
of a reggae song a
few years back... and it was a phrase I heard several times in
the last couple of weeks when I was in Germany. And it seems
an apt phrase to remind ourselves of this weekend one
so many people have been looking forward to .... perhaps with
mixed emotions for the organisers?!
But all their worrying has it seemed paid off we have,
grace of God, had another wonderful weekend for the
Scarecrows. Lots of smiling faces around so the instruction
to be happy has certainly been fulfilled.
So much to be thankful for the weather; the participation
of so many people throughout the village way beyond the
normal, worshipping community, the abundance of cakes produced;
two great evenings of entertainment; a wonderful
contribution from the school and the children and some of our
shopkeepers, that will ensure we have a great gift to take to
the foodbank on Monday. And I know very well how
much hard work has gone into making it all run smoothly. My thanks
therefore to the organising committee especially.
But back, for a moment to my time in Germany. This had
as you will expect a considerable impression on me. Our
theme was Walking the way of justice- together and
I was one of some sixty delegates from all over the world; China
and Hong Kong, Russia, the United States, Estonia, Latvia and
Lithuania, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, India, Tanzania, DR Congo,
Kenya and South Africa.
Now you will perhaps imagine that justice can look very different
if you come from one of the less developed countries of the world;
or from the Southern Hemisphere ... and if you are wondering
why there were no people from parts of the
world that we more naturally associate with, well remember we
were guests of the Lutheran Prostestant church of Germany.
The English delegation and that representing the Church of South
India, were I think the only other denominations present
all the rest were Lutherans. But just as the Anglican church
in Kenya or Uganda is very different from that in the United
States, or Canada, so too the Lutheran church in Tanzania is
very different from that in Sweden or Germany itself. In two
years time 2017 (when maybe.... just maybe....
we shall be celebrating another scarecrow festival???) Lutherans
wide will be celebrating the 500 th anniversary of Martin Luther
attaching his list of 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg
on 31 October. And this event has meaning for us in the Church
of England too. It influenced Cranmer and others who
were the architects of our own church proudly both catholic
Luther was angry with the established church of his day. Angry
for many reasons all 95 of them! but perhaps chiefly
he resented the way the church had become rich through the practice
of selling indulgences. People who had something
weighing on their conscience were paying money to the church
for a pardon ostensibly for masses to be said or sung
on their behalf but in reality increasing the power and
riches of an already powerful and corrupt organisation.
The justice of God was something very close to Luthers
heart and it should be close to ours too as we sit here
this morning surrounded by all this wonderful decoration and
food. For Gods justice is not just about being fair. That
is important too of course, and using Fairtrade products whenever
possible ; questioning our retailers about their supplier contracts;
paying our bills on time whenever possible; being honest and
straightforward in all our business dealings and administration
all these are good and just things.
But Gods justice is something else.
We find it easy to be fair if others are fair with us. We follow
the fairness of the contract if you like.
God follows the fairness of the covenant.
He gives us his love and forgiveness,
even when we have done nothing to deserve it that is what
we mean by Gods grace.
When the sun shines for our major events.... we dont deserve
it as such. When we experience an outpouring of community spirit
.... we dont deserve it as such even though we are
jolly glad of it when it comes. When we live in peace and
experience considerable prosperity by virtue of where
we live and in what century we were born.... well, we have done
nothing to deserve it as such and we should never cease
to thank God for all the many, many blessings we each and everyone
And for those of you who maybe are not feeling blessed particularly
this morning; those who are aware of illness or sorrow in your
immediate family or even in yourself, even for you Gods
grace and justice are at work, placing you in a
country where there is generally speaking good
access to a high standard of health care, and in a community
where there are people around to talk to and who will support
and uphold you in friendship and fellowship.
A good harvest may take many forms in this complex age of ours.
It may be reflected in the kindness of volunteers who offer help
and friendship to a frightened refugee, exhausted and desperate
at the end of a journey of maybe many
thousands of miles. It may be felt in the development of sustainable
forms of energy, using wind, waves or sunshine. It may be experienced
in a kind word or a neighbourly act... and it may of course
come in the form of barns full of wheat,
potatoes, barley; of hedgerows and orchards full of fruit and
vegetables; of full stomachs and satisfied sighs... Lets
thank God for the harvest once more. Be happy dont