15th September 2017

Tearfund Latest Prayer Points

 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HARVEST FESTIVAL?

 

 

I can still picture myself crossing the road from my primary school to go to the local Parish church for the annual harvest festival. It was a tradition that is etched on my memory.

 

And it was a big deal. We were encouraged to bring tins of food and other non-perishable items from our cupboards to give to the people in need in the village.

 

And we sang ‘All good gifts around us’ I wonder if you can read the opening lines ‘We plough the fields and scatter, the good seed on the land’ without singing it inside your head?

 

As I grew up in the countryside it was doubly meaningful. I’d seen crops grow, from seed to final harvesting and I knew this was connected with what appeared on the dinner table after school.

 

A few decades ago pretty much every school and every parish church held a harvest festival or harvest sunday. Nowadays it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal some schools still mark harvest, but plenty don’t. Same with churches I’m sure it’s still marked in my Norfolk village, but I doubt I will be singing any harvesty hymns at my church in urban west London.

 

Why don’t we sing about about ploughing the fields and scattering? Maybe it’s because more than ever before, most of us feel disconnected from ‘the land’? We are more out of touch with the seasons and their rhythms in our lives than any era before. Strawberries are available all year round, even 24/7 if you have a Metro supermarket nearby.

 

Lord of the Harvest

The Bible is full of harvest imagery. It’s a theme that would have been central to the societies in both Old and New Testament times. Jesus himself used this harvest imagery (Matthew 9:38) when talking about reaching out to people. If your seed was choked by weeds or shrivelled you were in trouble.

 

The Israelites celebrated the feast of first fruits (Leviticus 23:9-14), where they brought a portion of their first harvest as an offering an annual reminder that everything ultimately belonged to the Lord.

 

Most of us in the UK never see the food we eat being grown or harvested. But I think there’s so much that celebrating our ‘first fruits’ can teach us. It’s about gratitude and celebration for things we take for granted but shouldn’t. It’s about generosity for those in need, whether the box of food is an annual one-off or a weekly lifeline at a food bank.

 

Harvest 2.0

There’s another reason why I think that Harvest Sunday has a message for us, rural or urban, in 2017.

 

Around one third of the food grown in our fields never makes it to the shelves of our supermarkets, due to strict cosmetic standards placed upon them. We are also wasting more food in our homes than we often realise or would like to admit. Here in the UK <http://tearfund.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=cd19eb0b2a74af14054950f15&id=c8133e5d27&e=b67d6b82a4> , we throw away edible food worth £470 per household each year.

 

We can do something about this <http://tearfund.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=cd19eb0b2a74af14054950f15&id=31051d7c15&e=b67d6b82a4> by pledging to waste less food in our homes and also to call upon our supermarkets, the place where we often reap the harvest, to also do the same.

 

You could even gather together with some friends and put on a food waste feast <http://tearfund.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=cd19eb0b2a74af14054950f15&id=7069961691&e=b67d6b82a4> ! Let’s take the time to cherish, enjoy and celebrate the food that we have and so often take for granted. And let’s vow not to see so much of it left to rot.

 

The feast of first fruits taught the Israelites about their absolute dependence on God’s provision. It taught them to cherish and celebrate what came from the soil. I still say grace fairly often, but how often am I caught up in awe, humility or celebration, when I look at the food set before me on my dinner plate.

 

Harvest may have slipped down many churches’ agendas, but all good gifts around us still come from ‘heaven above’. Let’s treat those gifts with the reverence they deserve.

 

Read a special harvest prayer <http://tearfund.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=cd19eb0b2a74af14054950f15&id=d5d8de1143&e=b67d6b82a4> by Gideon Heugh.

 

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A note from...

 

 

'Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love going for walks and seeing the changing colours while breathing in the crisp air. God has given us such a beautiful world! With harvest, it’s also a great time to reflect on where my food comes from, and give thanks to the God ‘who richly provides everything for our enjoyment.'

 

Jessie Boston

Digital Team

 

 

PRAYER POINTS FROM

AROUND THE WORLD

 

 

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Prayer Item #1

 

The rainy season in west and central Africa brings blessings and challenges. Farmers need enough rain for their crops to produce bountiful harvests, however too much rain has caused localised flooding across the region, and outbreaks of cholera in Nigeria and Chad. Please pray for good harvests as well as God's protection and provision for those affected by flooding or cholera.

*

 

Prayer Item #2

 

Please continue to pray for the people affected by flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Thank God that the waters have begun to recede in many places. Due to the massive extent of the flooding, the process of recovery will take many months, possibly even years. Please pray for strength and wisdom for our partners in the region.

*

 

Prayer Item #3

 

Lift up all those who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods because of Hurricane Irma. Pray for God’s hand upon the recovery work for wisdom for the authorities and comfort for those who have been affected. Pray that, as the Hurricane season continues, there will be no further catastrophic storms.

 

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PRAY FOR THE ROHINGYA REFUGEES

 

On 25 August, violence in Northern Rakkhine State, Myanmar, intensified sparking new flows of internally displaced people and refugees into Bangladesh...

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POWER TO THE PEOPLE

 

When Betty invested her self-help group loan in a solar panel she did more than just connect her village to electricity she connected them to each other...

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