Summary: An interactive all age Harvest Festival sermon re turning our grumbling into gratitude and our angst into thanks

If you saw this (#firstworldproblems) on Instagram or Twitter - what would you think would be the rest of the post?

(Take suggestions)

I was doing research for my sermon on Thursday (otherwise known as reading the newspaper)- researchers working with a behavourial psychologist from Goldsmiths University interviewed 2000 people aged between 18 and 70 about what was their biggest worries -

For one third of people one of their biggest worries was this (hold out an avocado) - “avocado anxiety” - a terror of the fruit being either rock hard or not ripe.

For a different third one of their biggest worries was this (hold out a bottle of Prosecco) - the fear that there might be another Prosecco drought like the one last year.

Other significant fears included anxieties about all day time slots for deliveries, fears about accidentally leaving their phone at home, or not getting enough likes on Twitter.

Twenty years ago according to a similar Survey - worries involved having a happy relationship earning enough to pay the bills and getting on the housing ladder. [1]

Yet even those are (hold up sign - #firstworldproblems) compared with what people in some parts of the world go through.

When Jesus was a baby - what sort of things do you think his mother Mary might have had to worry about?

[take answers]

Yet when she knows all these things are coming, her response isn’t anxiety - it is “let it be to me according to you will” she says to God.

Rather than going “How am I going to cope? How am I going to cope?” - she bursts into a praise song “My Soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices for the Almighty has done great things for me and Holy is his name”

Instead of going for grumbling she goes for gratitude.

Instead of angst she goes for goes for thanks.

In Jesus’s day, people had real things to worry about “what will I eat? What will I wear?”

Now if someone in this congregation says “I’m starving” - it’s probably because you haven’t had enough Haribos, not because you haven’t eaten for three days.

And if Alan (the church warden) says “What will I wear?” - it’s probably because he’s anxious about making a good impression at that rave he’s going to, not because he’s anxious about whether he’ll have shoes on his feet.

{hold up sign for #firstworldproblems}

You’d think Jesus might be sympathetic to people in those days very real problems - Yet when people say “what shall I eat, what shall I wear?” - what’s the story he tells in the Gospel reading we have just heard?

[get people to retell the story….birds of the air, lillies of the field Luke 12:22-30]

Instead of going for grumbling go for gratitude

Instead of angst go for thanks

I have here a suitcase so I can go on holiday - but I have got a real problem because I can’t close it on all these toys I have got…… [2]

What should I do?

[take answers]

Well in the bible reading we heard what is the rich man’s solution to not having enough storage space for his grain?

[get people to tell the story of the rich fool - Luke 12:13-21]

And what happens to him?

[get them to complete the story about the man dying]

Things can’t make you happy.

Well actually that’s not true - because things can make you happy if you give them away.

We are here today to say thank you to God that none of us here today have to worry about whether we will eat tomorrow or whether we will be sleeping on the streets.

And we say thank you to God by giving food to the Ealing Food bank and by giving money to the ALMA nutrition project in Mozambique

Instead of going for grumbling go for gratitude.

Instead of angst go for thanks.

St Ignatius of Loyola trained up an order of missionaries - and his training for them consisted in teaching them prayer exercises that would help them grow in their relationship with Jesus. One of these exercises that many people find helpful is called the examen. It consists of at the end of the day sitting down with God and reviewing the things that have happened. You might review the things you need to say sorry for or the people God has spoken to you throughout the day. But you also review the things that day that you need to thank God for. It’s a life changing experience.

GK Chesterton said “If I was an atheist, the thing I would miss most about Christianity would be having someone to say thank you for” [3]

One of the names for the mass is “The Eucharist”. Anyone able to spell that?

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