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notre dame montreal

Sermon for Harvest Year A

By The Rev Charles Royden


Today is our Harvest Festival and we gather together and thank God for all that we have. Today as much as any other day it is good to focus on what we need and what makes us happy.

I say this because obviously we live in a society where instead of being thankful we are becoming more and more demanding. Isn't it a sad indictment of our society that one of our biggest problems is that we have run out of ways to get rid of the stuff that we throw away!
The more we have does not mean the happier we are. Often the more we have the more we seem to need.

We all need a certain amount to get by, but not that much, Jesus knew that.

Rich people are not happier because they are rich. Indeed sometimes the worry of their wealth and what to do with it makes them very unhappy.

One of the problems is that as we live in an affluent society we become spoiled. Luxuries which we once deeply appreciated we get to take for granted. We need to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are, and become more contented with less. He is rich not who has much, but he who has learned to be satisfied with less.

Ok this is a Harvest festival family sermon with all ages in the service, so we have got to have something for everyone. We are going to start by admiring my tractor made out of cardboard boxes, a few bits of dowel, etc. Now I need two teams of about three or four people. I want you to make a tractor between you at least as good as mine. The bits for this are located around the church, go and find them and the first team to produce a half decent tractor wins!

OK so what did we learn!

The need to work together - Our teams have to see themselves as all having work to do, all making a contribution. It is so important to remember that God gave us work! I believe that everybody should have a job, we should all be able to say that we are making a contribution. Of course we should also be able to have time off, but these two things, work and rest were such an important part of creation.

The need to communicate - It seems that as we go along the road of technological advance we are communicating I all sorts of ways, by E-mail etc. But that is losing out on the human contact. Our communities are full of people who are very lonely and do not see other people. We are closing our post offices because we don’t need to go out of our houses. This is not necessarily advance. There is a story of an African village where everybody gathered around the well to meet and share stories. Then a charity provided some plumbing to take water into their homes. Soon the villagers became upset because their village life had suffered badly. They had stopped gathering around the well. Modern advances had stolen something of their communication.

The need to share - OK so one side had too many wheels and they could have held those wheels and refused to share them, so making it impossible for the other team to make a tractor. Now we are good Christians, at least in church, so we got to share our wheels around. But that doesn’t happen in our world economies. We keep the good stuff for ourselves. We compete and do not allow other teams to build and develop as they need. We have to learn how to be fair and Harvest is a time to remind ourselves of that.

A story is told of stone soup—do you all already know it? Well those who have should now politely say that they would like to hear it again. Those who have not will enjoy it for the first time!

The story goes like this

A guy crosses a desert and comes at last to a small town. Hungry and thirsty he comes to a small village and asks the villagers if he can have something to eat and drink. They all give the same answer, harvest has been poor, there is no food.

‘There is hardly enough food for my family’ says one
‘What little we have is needed for our children,’ says another
‘Winter is coming and we do not how we will survive’ says another

Everyone was very worried about themselves and their immediate family.

Completely discouraged and very hungry the man sat down under a tree in the village square. "Poor people,": he thought, "in a few weeks they will be as hungry as I am." Suddenly an idea hit. He searched around found a stone and called the villagers to him in a loud voice
‘Your worries are over. I have in my hand a special stone that will help take you through the long winter. This is a magic stone. With it you can make stone soup."

"Stone soup?" and old man repeated. "I have never heard of stone soup."
"The wonder of stone soup," the stranger continued, "is that it not only feeds hungry people, it also brings people together. Now who has the largest empty pot?"

Quickly a huge iron pot was found, and delivered to the stranger in a wheel barrow. "The kettle is barely large enough, but it will do," the stranger said. "Now we must fill the pot with
water and start a fire."

Eager hands carried buckets of water and firewood. Soon the pot was placed over a roaring fire. As the water began to boil the stranger dramatically raised the magic stone above his head, and then he gently placed it in the kettle.

"Stone soup needs salt and pepper," the stranger announced. Two children ran to find salt and pepper. After the water had boiled for few minutes the stranger sipped the brew. "This stone makes an excellent soup, but it would be better if we had a few carrots."

"We have a few carrots that we're willing to share," a farmer replied. Immediately his daughter ran home and returned with an apron full of carrots.

"Its too bad the harvest was so bad," said the stranger. "Stone soup is always much more tasty when we add a cabbage or two." "I think I know where to find a cabbage," a young mother shouted as she dashed towards her home. When she returned she was carrying three large cabbages.

The stranger was busy slicing carrots and cabbages with his hunting knife. "The last time I made stone soup was at the castle of a rich man. He added a few potatoes and a bit of
beef."

Several people talked quietly, "A bit of beef and we can eat like rich people", they whispered. They went home and soon returned not only with beef and potatoes, but some brought milk, onions and barley too.

By the time the soup was ready it was almost dark. It was the most delicious soup that they had ever smelled and to think, it all came from the magic stone. The stranger finally declared that it was done and invited everyone to have as much as they could eat.

After everyone had eaten their full, everyone began to sing and dance - and they continued till the early hours of the morning. Never had the village people had such a wonderful party.

The next morning the whole village gathered to say goodbye to the stranger. As he mounted his horse a small child called out, "You forgot to take your magic stone!"

The stranger smiled. "I am going to leave the stone with you as gift of gratitude for your hospitality," he said. "Remember, as long as you make stone soup, you will never have to worry about being hungry."


Today at Harvest Festival, we celebrate the goodness of our God in providing to us the bounty of earth, sea, and sky - the goodness of God who grants to us both seedtime and harvest, the goodness of God who shares with us the love that is in his heart and calls us to likewise share.

We are rich beyond belief.

  • If we have food we are so lucky. So many people starve each year. It's around 5 million (5,000,000) people per year. That's about 30,273 per day !
  • If we have clean water we are so lucky, 1 in seven people have no access to clean water

We all have so much more than we need. We have not just daily bread but freezers full. So we must learn gratitude and sharing. No matter how poor we may seem, we all have some gift or contribution we can make for the betterment of all.