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40 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 23 September 2012

celebrating Harvest, from Flemington-Hallside Parish Church, Cambuslang, Lanarkshire,
with the Revd Neil Glover.
Hymns: Come you thankful people, come (Tune: St George's Windsor)
Monarch and Maker (Tune: Highland Cathedral)
O Lord, our God throughout the earth (Tune: Tramps and Hawkers)
While earth remains (Tune: Arirang)
Great is thy faithfulness (Tune: Faithfulness)
Now thank we all our God (Tune: Nun Danket)
Musical Director: Anna Glover. Organist: Jonas Cedervall.
Producer: Mo McCullough.



    Good morning and welcome to our worship. Joining us this morning are members of Churches from Cambuslang and neighbouring Rutherglen. And members of those congregations will be sharing with us in leading our worship.

    This is an area from which food, coal, steel, vacuum cleaners and most recently baking, have been shared with the United Kingdom and the world. And we’ll remember this morning that harvest takes many forms.


    Joy: Where the field is ploughed
    Where the seed is sown
    Where the crop is gathered
    Where the bread is baked
    Where the meal is eaten

    Joy: Where the nets are cast
    Where the ore is dug
    Where the circuits are printed
    Where the stock is counted
    Where the figures are audited

    Joy: To return land to the homeless
    To restore rights to the powerless
    To guard the persecuted
    To defend the innocent
    To stand with the poor

    MUSIC: HYMN – Come, you thankful people, come (Tune: St George’s Windsor)
    Congregation + Organ


    Let us pray.
    Dear God, you sent us out,
    You sent us out to the hurting places where the nights are sleepless and the days are long.
    You sent us out to the working places where backs are sore and problems not easily solved.
    You sent us out to the speaking places where adventures are told and secrets revealed.
    You sent us out, and now you gather us in.

    You sent us out to announce good news,
    To visit the prisoner
    To feed the hungry
    To make peace
    To pray for justice
    You sent us out, and now you gather us in.

    So here we are,
    Your own people,
    Your living body.

    And we lift our hearts and voices to you,
    You who own the earth and everything in it,
    You who recruited us for the work of the harvest,
    You who showed us wonders, and let us taste the finest fare.

    As we are gathered to worship you this morning,
    You the Lord of the earth, the Lord of the harvest,
    We admit to you the times we have stumbled,
    The cruel thoughts we enjoyed,
    The unflattering stories we gossiped.
    Take such things from us dear Jesus,
    You who bore our sins
    when you died our death
    on that cruel cross.

    Take from us now the worst of things
    That in us the best of things
    might be made new
    In your rich, unmerited kindness
    We ask all this, as together we pray in the words you have taught us:

    Our Father in heaven,
    Hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come
    Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
    Give us today our daily bread
    Forgive us our sins
    As we forgive those who sin against us
    Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil
    For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
    Now and forever. AMEN


    Harvest is our celebration of what has been given to us,
    From the abundance of the earth, from the design, labour and skill of humanity,
    Harvest is this joyous shout, a moment to stop and realise we have been fed.
    Much of what has fed us is from this country, much from abroad.
    And this is symbolised in our worship this morning by songs which come from Korea, the Congo, the United States, and this hymn whose words were first sung in the North East of Scotland and whose tune “Highland Cathedral” was written by two bagpipers from Germany.

    MUSIC: Hymn – Monarch and Maker (Tune: Highland Cathedral)
    Congregation + Organ : Verse 1 Solo soprano

    NEIL: INTRO TO FIRST READING Our first reading concerns a couple called Abram and Sarai, who have just learned that they cannot conceive children. Our Old Testament reading comes from the book of Genesis, chapter 11, reading from verse 31.

    NIGEL: Old Testament Reading Genesis 11:31 - 12:3
    31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, who was the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, Abram's wife, and with them he left the city of Ur in Babylonia to go to the land of Canaan. They went as far as Haran and settled there. 32 Terah died there at the age of 205.
    12 The LORD said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. 2 I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.
    3 I will bless those who bless you,
    But I will curse those who curse you.
    And through you I will bless all the nations.”


    Let us stand to sing a Scottish metrical setting of words from the eighth
    psalm, “O Lord, our Lord throughout the earth”. The tune is popular in
    Scotland and Ireland, and here it is called “Tramps and Hawkers”.

    MUSIC: Hymn – O Lord our God throughout the earth (Tune: Tramps and Hawkers)
    Congregation + Piano + Whistle

    From the gospel of Mark, chapter 4, reading from verse 26, Jesus tells us this story about harvest.

    MOIRA BROWN: New Testament Reading Mark 4:26-29

    26 Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is like this. A man scatters seed in his field. 27 He sleeps at night, is up and about during the day, and all the while the seeds are sprouting and growing. Yet he does not know how it happens. 28 The soil itself makes the plants grow and bear fruit; first the tender stalk appears, then the head, and finally the head full of grain. 29 When the grain is ripe, the man starts cutting it with his sickle, because harvest time has come.

    NEIL: Our next song, “God who made the earth” is to a tune which is dearly loved in both North and South Korea. Its original words are about unrequited love between two people, a metaphor for peace in a divided place. These words from the Scottish writer John Bell, speak of a similar reconciliation.

    MUSIC: Hymn – While Earth Remains (God who made the earth) (Tune: Arirang)
    Congregation + Piano


    It’s not safe to be a parent in a children’s animated film.

    Cinderella’s mother,
    Both of Snow White’s parents,
    Fail, even to make the beginning.

    The first 15 minutes are fraught with danger.

    Dumbo’s mother is imprisoned,
    Nemo’s mother is eaten by a Barracuda
    And in The Lion King, Simba’s Dad is killed by hyena’s
    And many of us remember where we were when Bambi’s mother di.d

    And having endangered parents,
    The film tells the story of someone fragile in this hostile place.

    Snow-white in the forest,
    A clownfish in the vast ocean,
    Simba the lion evading his evil uncle

    And these stories have their power, because they speak of something profoundly truthful,
    That something small, and vulnerable can grow,
    Even in the most hostile of places.
    And the stories of faith, the stories of the work of God speak of an even greater power.

    Genesis Chapter 11 is a hostile place.

    It begins with the story of a people who build a city and a tower which might have its top in the heavens, and hope to make a name for themselves with the use of new technology. In a telling piece of satire, God must still come down to visit this supposedly high tower. God spots the dangers in arrogant human enterprise, confuses the language of the builders, and scatters them, forcing them to abandon the tower which is given the name Babel.

    It’s a story about the height of human dreams and arrogant ambition.
    The addresses we hope to occupy, the salaries we hope to command,
    The clothes we desire to have inside our wardrobe, the cars which one day might be parked in our driveways,
    The economy built on dubious fundamentals.
    First the tower grows, but then it must be abandoned.

    And there are further tragedies:

    We meet the family of a man named Terah.
    Abram and Sarai, later to be called Abraham and Sarah, his oldest son and daughter-in-law, yearn for but cannot conceive children.
    His youngest son, Haran, dies in the presence of his father.

    And so we have this hostile place,
    The abandonment of vanity projects,
    And the couple who cannot conceive,
    And the child who dies too young.

    And in the middle of all these hostile surroundings, a seed is planted.
    Abram and Sarai, now pensioners,
    Are despatched on an adventure in which they will receive and then pass on to all people the blessing of God.
    From their fragile seed will be born God’s new community of hope.

    And it’s the same pattern many hundred years later, because there seems to be something dark and painful and hostile around the villages of Galilee.

    People are ill and have no access to adequate health care.
    There are diseases which cast people out to the edge of society.
    And religion has failed because it has become the preserve of an elite who suggest they have God’s backing in excluding those with the wrong jobs, the wrong politics or questionable reputations.

    And then a man comes, he’s nothing special, a joiner, the son of a woman called Mary,
    and he announces something new in this hostile place:

    “Turn,” he says, “the kingdom of God is near”.

    And those without access to healthcare he heals;
    And those stigmatised by disease, or disability he liberates;
    And defying religious convention he draws his friends
    From the ignorant, the scandalous and the extremists.

    The outsider is brought in,
    The traitor is given a home,
    The poor hear good news,
    And this is God’s kingdom.
    And in this hostile place he then tells a story about a fragile seed.
    A man planted a seed, says Jesus, and he slept and it grew.
    It had a power which the farmer could not fully understand
    And when the seed was ripe the farmer harvested.

    Why does Jesus tell this story?

    He tells the story I think because he wants us to sow.

    I think at this time of my friend Chris, a minister in the North of Glasgow who
    is an obsessive gardener,
    Who plants urban gardens in concrete spaces,
    And insists that every Church leader should be taught the rudiments of horticulture.

    Because he believes it is of the kingdom of God to sow,
    To sow potential, to unveil the possibility of something new even in hostile places

    And to ask questions and to demand justice
    When the poor cannot sow because their land is polluted,
    Or threatened by rising sea levels,
    Or poisoned or mined or fenced or walled by governments or corporations or cartels or unjust laws or international indifference.

    The story of Jesus is a story of a seed that must be sown,
    It is the story of a kingdom yet to come,
    And a kingdom already here.

    Then I think Jesus tells us this story to bear witness to the irrepressible life of the seed.
    Notice how Jesus draws attention to its vitality.
    The seed sprouts and grows, he says,
    First the blade, then the ear, the full grain in the ear,
    It grows.

    And I think of a story told by a friend of mine who was recently with the Church in Uganda.
    It began there with a man called Pastor Ezra,
    He studied the story of Abraham, and wondered if it might be true that this story of a fragile, vulnerable farmer, who received a blessing that he was to pass on,
    might also be a story about him.

    And so Ezra planted some seed,
    Sorghum which is a kind of porridge, cassava and maize.

    The seed grew, and he developed his farm,
    And he was able to move from a mud hut into a brick house.
    And because he had more food, he had more time in which he was able to invest in his five struggling Churches, and these have now become 11 thriving congregations.

    And this story of a seed that grew,
    Of relationships, and community and a dignity which flourished began to continue.

    Another man called Sam, who was HIV positive, who had only enough food to feed his family for 2 days a month, was inspired by Ezra.
    He read the story of Abraham for himself, and wondered if it might also be about him.

    So Sam planted an orchard which now gives him and his family an income
    And as a result set up his own charity which supports 62 other people who are HIV positive.
    And the seed keeps growing.
    And this HIV support group now works in Churches and the wider community, raising awareness of HIV.

    It is the story of irrepressible life in a hostile place,
    The story of a kingdom yet to come,
    And the story of a kingdom already here.

    And, finally, I think Jesus tells us this story,
    To point to the great harvest yet to come, the kingdom where the poorest will have a home
    And the bitterest enemies share.

    Where snakes nest beside children’s playgrounds,
    And octogenarians attend youth clubs .

    Where the gateways are lined with pearls, the boundary walls with jewels, the streets will be of gold, and the wealth is commonly held.

    And where the peoples of very nation,
    Of Britain, of Uganda, of Germany, of Korea,
    In the presence of God will feast on a meal where there is enough for all.

    Sow the seed
    Spot the growth
    Hope for the harvest

    The kingdom will surely come
    And it is already here. AMEN.

    MUSIC: Hymn – Great is thy faithfulness (Tune: Faithfulness)
    Congregation + Organ

    During our prayer for others we sing words from the Democractic Republic of the Congo, Mungu Ni Mwema, Know that God is good.

    Song “Mungu Ni Mwema” CH4 (Scottish Church Hymnary) 788 “Know that God is good” / Dougie on drum

    Rodney: Let us hold before God
    Those who sow the seed
    The agriculturalists whose seed has become our food
    The educationalists whose knowledge is shared
    The evangelists who have convinced us of the good news

    Amy: Let us hold before God
    Those who hope that seed might grow
    The refugee who dreams of planting a garden
    The tribespeople who campaign to keep their land
    The factory worker who wants to keep her children in school

    Rodney: Let us hold before God
    Those whose harvest we have enjoyed
    Those who have fished in the Indian Ocean
    Those who have picked fruit in the Caribbean
    Those who have grown cocoa in Ghana

    Amy: Let us give thanks to God for all that we harvested
    Food that has nourished us
    Friends who have loved us
    Prophets who have disturbed us
    Employers who have paid us
    Healers who have renewed us
    Pastors who have guarded us
    And the Spirit which dwells within us
    Transforms us
    Assures us
    Revives us

    Rodney: Let us hold before God all those who need him now.
    We pray for peace in our world
    We pray for the people of Pakistan after the recent unrest there
    We pray for the people of Syria caught up in civil war
    We pray for the people of Afghanistan and those from our country who
    serve there
    We pray for the families and friends of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes
    The two police officers killed in Manchester this week
    We pray for those for whom this has been a difficult week
    Those who are living with illness
    Those who have lost someone they love
    Those we name before you

    BOTH: We make our prayers in Jesus’ name. AMEN

    MUSIC: Hymn – Now thank we all our God (Tune: Nun Danket)
    Congregation + Organ

    NEIL: Blessing

    May God the Lord of the Harvest bless you
    That seed might sprout in unlikely places
    That life might flourish around you
    That you would be a blessing to the whole earth
    In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit



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