This week the headlines have been dominated by shortages; a shortage of fuel, of drivers, of seasonal workers and, for some, a shortage of patience and consideration for others.
I suspect also that we are experiencing a shortage of willingness to change. A stubborn insistence that we are right to carry on as normal, and expect others to ‘sort it’.
I find an irony in this emphasis on shortage, for this is our season of harvest thanksgiving. Now, in worship, in festive decoration, in bringing gifts to share, we thank God for his bounty. As we celebrate bounty, the headlines talk of shortage. For the most part there is plenty of harvest; distribution is the problem. Clearly, whatever the cause, many of our near neighbours are in need.
The gospels tell us that almost wherever Jesus went, he attracted crowds. They came for healing, for a square meal, to find a meaning in life. They came looking for dignity in a world that demeaned them. They came because, in some important way, they lacked the experience of God’s bounty, God’s love. They were in need.
Matthew tells us that these crowds were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9:36) and that Jesus had compassion on them. Jesus saw something which we are prone to miss. The problem started not in the harvest, not in the supply chain for distribution (difficult though those may be); the shortages began in a shortage of experiencing the love of God. God is love, and the foundation of God’s life giving, life sustaining activity is his love. The shortage of the love of God in our relationships underpins every other shortage.
As ever, Jesus didn’t just see a problem, he saw also a solution. Turning to his disciples (and mixing his metaphors) he said ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’ (Matt 9:37,38)
In 2000 years, little has changed. The field behind the Rectory is now bare, it’s golden contents safely gathered in for another year. However, harassed and helpless sheep clearly remain, so too does the need for labour in His harvest; so too the need for us to pray – and having prayed, to ask ‘what is our part?’
3 October 2021
Notice Sheet and your Wordsearch attached.