celtic preayers

Harvest Thanksgiving - traditional & contemporary liturgy

Bruegal Harvest

(See also Harvest Thanksgiving Resources and Prayers)

Harvest is a great season for the Christian, because within is so much meaning beyond the usual bunches of grapes and flowers that decorate our churches, as God looks to our harvest - how fruitful are you as a Christian?!

According to that fount of all knowledge - Wikipedia - Harvest is from the Anglo-Saxon word hærfest, "Autumn". It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other grown products. The full moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. So in ancient traditions Harvest Festivals were traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. This moon is the full moon which falls in the month of September.

An early Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning 'loaf Mass'. Farmers made loaves of bread from the fresh wheat crop. These were given to the local church as the Communion bread during a special service thanking God for the harvest.

The modern British tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. Victorian hymns such as "We plough the fields and scatter", "Come ye thankful people, come" and "All things bright and beautiful" helped popularise his idea of harvest festival and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service. (source Wikipedia)

 

Two liturgies for Harvest - [Traditional] [More contemporary]

 

1) A More Traditional Liturgy

Leader: The heavens declare the glory of God
All: The skies display the work of his hands

God of light and God of night
Creator of seed and mountain
raindrop and fountain
We bring our offering of praise.
God of right and God of might
Lover of child and childless
rich and homeless
We bring our offering of praise.

Leader: Do you not know? Have you not heard?
All: The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth (Isaiah 40:28)

‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’ (Gen 8:22)

By faith
I gaze up to the heavens
and know
within its vastness
that this is your creation
planned and effected within eternity

By faith
I pluck an ear of corn
and know
within its symmetry
lies the chemistry of life
the potential of creation within my hand

By faith
I listen for your voice
and know
the whisper that I hear
breathed a world into existence
yet listens to the prayer within my soul

By faith
I strive to do your will
and know
the door that I approach
may lead me to shadows
where my roll is to become your light

By faith
I cling to your word
and know
the strength that I receive
has it’s source within the love
that is at the centre of all things

Leader: Listen to these words from Christina Rossetti ((1830-1894)) and think about them for a moment,

'Lord, purge our eyes to see
within the seed a tree,
Within the glowing egg a bird,
Within the shroud a butterfly,
Til, taught by such, we see
beyond all creatures, thee.'


Leader: For the beauty of a country scene
All: We praise you Lord for sight
Leader: For the coolness of a mountain stream
All: We praise you Lord for touch
Leader: For nightingale in tuneful flow
All: We praise you Lord for ears
Leader: For the taste of fruit that we have grown
All: We praise you Lord for senses


Creator God, for daily bread
and all who work
to bring your harvest home
we bring our thanks today.

(pause)

Forgive our ingratitude
we who have so much
yet waste what you have given.

(pause)

For those whose harvest is poor,
whose crops have withered,
water tainted, children starve,
help those who bring relief
and bestow on us
an unaccustomed generosity,
that all might share from your garden
and all might sing your praise.

(pause)

Creator God, provider of all
we bring our thanks today.
And we bless each other
that the beauty of this world
and the love that created it
might be expressed though our lives
and be a blessing to others
now and always
A. AMEN

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2) A More Contemporary Liturgy

 

Small Beginnings

"Things great have small beginnings. Every downpour is just a raindrop; every fire is just a spark; every harvest is just a seed; every journey is just a step because without that step there will be no journey; without that raindrop there can be no shower; without that seed there can be no harvest."
William Wilberforce

In the beginning there was nothing, and out of nothing you fashioned a universe so vast, so unimaginable that we can only sigh with amazement when we stare upwards on a star-lit night. And within this universe you positioned the earth and populated it, provided for it and designed for it to be a place of beauty.
Creator God: Thank you

In the beginning there was just potential; the seed within the packet, soil’s nutrients, sunshine’s warmth, rain clouds gathering. And within the tiny seed all that is our daily bread encoded, primed and ready should it be planted and allowed to grow.
Creator God: Thank you

Genesis 2: 8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In the beginning there was humankind, placed within your garden, made steward, gardener and caretaker of this place of beauty, given responsibilities and the capacity to enjoy. And yet among the seeds we have sown have been weeds and crops of our own choosing, which have not shown fruit or have spread and choked the earth.
Creator God: Forgive us

Myung Lee reminds us of an old Korean proverb. "If you plant a bean, then you will harvest only beans, not grapes or strawberries." God gave us new life through Jesus Christ and planted special seeds of forgiveness and love in our hearts. What fruit will we bear in our daily lives?"

A moment of quiet, time to listen, time to be still with God – what does he say to you this harvest time?

(silence)

God of harvest,
gardener supreme
you place us at the centre
feed us, equip us and
having provided for us
look to a different harvest
a fruitfulness of lives
in service to you
and others.
God of harvest,
feed us
prune us
harvest us
that our lives
might bring glory to you.