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Summary: A Harvest festival sermon on avoiding anxiety

[This sermon was preached at an all-age outdoor harvest festival at the local allotments]

[props required - toy bird with a small watering can and a spade; flower in a pot, knitting needle and knitting and pair of sunglasses]


Today we celebrate Harvest Festival. It’s something that as we heard in the reading that Heather and Mandy read us started goes back thousands of years ago to the Ancient Isrealites celebrating God giving them their crops. It is something that we re-started in this country 200 years ago. And here we meet again at the allotments - celebrating all these plants and collecting food for the food bank. But what’s it really about?

One of the things Harvest is about is not having to worry.

If we let ourselves get into the habit of it Worry can ruin our lives. There are so many things that we can worry about. When it gets so extreme we call it a phobia

Perhaps you’ve heard of Arachnophobia - what does that mean? (fear of Spider)

Claustrophobia - what does that mean? (fear of being shut in)

here are a few more:

Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people. Aerophobia: fear of drafts. Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple. Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people. Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body. Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body. Auroraphobia: fear of the northern lights. Calyprophobia: fear of obscure meanings. Thalassophobia: fear of being seated. Stabisbasiphobia: fear of standing and walking. Odontophobia: fear of teeth. Graphophobia: fear of writing in public. Phobophobia: fear of being afraid.

[taken from Fraser Kent, Nothing to Fear, , Doubleday & Company, 1977. quoted in a sermon on this site]

Whether we have an actual phobia - or just worry about whether my friends at school like me, worry about whether I am going to do all right in the test on Monday …. Worry can ruin our lives. Indeed scientists have even shown that worry makes us live less long that other people.

Vance Havner said “Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere!” (From a sermon by Jimmy Haile, Consider the Lilies!, 12/25/2010)

What can we do about worry?

A man went to a psychiatrist with a worry problem. "Every time I get into bed," he said, "I’m convinced there is somebody under it."

"I can help," said the psychiatrist, "But it will mean a session a week for a year, costing £30 per visit."

The man never returned, so when the psychiatrist met him in the street he asked why he hadn’t come back. "Oh, a friend cured me for nothing," he explained.

"How did he do that?" asked the psychiatrist.

"He simply told me to cut the legs off the bed!" replied the man.

Perhaps if we were more powerful we would not have to worry? Perhaps if we were as powerful as Barack Obama or David Cameron, we wouldn’t have to worry? Have you heard for Joseph Stalin, the dictator of Russia at the start of the twentieth Century? If power could deliver us from fear, then Joseph Stalin should have been fearless. Instead, this infamous Russian premier was afraid to go to bed. He had seven different bedrooms. Each could be locked as tightly as a safe. In order to foil any would-be assassins, he slept in a different one each night. Five chauffeur-driven limousines transported him wherever he went, each with curtains closed so no one would know which contained Stalin. So deep-seated were his apprehensions that he employed a servant whose sole task was to monitor and protect his tea bags.

[Stalin; Ian Grey (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979), 457 quoted in a sermon on this site]

Ok - Maybe if we had more money we wouldn’t have to worry?

An interesting article appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It was an interview of 6 top executives, all of them making 6-figure salaries. That means that they made somewhere between $100,000 & $999,999 a year.

Now you are probably thinking what I thought, "If I made even $100,000 a year, I’d be in great shape. No worries, & no problems."

But in the interview each was asked, "What is your greatest fear?" Each answered pretty much the same, using different words. Their greatest fear was that they would not have enough. When they were asked, "How much is enough?" they always answered, "a little more."

It seems that the world’s goods never completely satisfy. You find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, & the price of gold falls. You strike oil, & the oil market deteriorates. Your ship comes in, & it sinks in the harbor. It seems that everything in life is so uncertain.

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