This was the sermon today at St Mary's Stebbing, where 200 people came to share in a Harvest celebration with 4 baptisms. I went to all the parties afterwards including the harvest lunch ...
You’re probably wondering what Harvest Festival and baptism have got in common. I hope so anyway, because that is what my talk is bout.
I think there are 7 things that link the two.
1. Celebration – both Harvest and Baptism are an opportunity for the Church and the community to celebrate together.
2. Thanksgiving – they both involve a thank you – to God and to others. We thank God for these lovely children just as we thank God for the provision of food in the harvest. We also thank the Farmers for their hard work, and we also thank the children’s families and godparents for the support they have given.
3. Dedication or offering. There is a sense in which parents and godparents who bring the children for baptism are offering them to God – beginning their relationship with his church. At harvest too we bring an offering – this food is dedicated to God, as we share it with those in need, so that those who receive it may know God’s love.
4. Blessing. A big part of the baptism is to ask God’s blessing upon the children and their parents and godparents. A big part of Harvest is asking God to bless the work of those who till the soil and raise the herds, as well as our desire to bless others by sharing what we have.
5. Family. Baptisms are great family occasions – for the immediate families of the children, and also for the family of the church, who have such an important role to play in praying for these children as they grow in faith and understanding.
6. Love. We bring children to baptism because we love them and we want the best for them, and we celebrate Harvest as an expression of God’s love for us in providing for us and for those in need.
And 7. My final point is that this is about trusting God for the future – its about the next generation. Even as we speak the fields and orchards are being prepared for next year’s crop. We trust the farmers to do what needs to be done, and we trust the weather forecasters to try to get it right. When we bring children for baptism we are trusting God that they will indeed grow up to take their place within the life and worship of the church. Its all about a new start.
So whether you are here for baptisms or harvest, celebrate, give thanks, bring your offering, receive a blessing, enjoy your family and know God’s love.