Summary: Jesus provides the Bread of Life 1.B – Our need to Belong 2. R – He relieves our fears 3. E - He entertains our doubts 4. A – He answers our questions 5. D – He is a Dear Friend

Harvest Festival - Stiffkey 2003

Today is Harvest Sunday.

Question: I was in Langham school on Thursday and the head, Mike Green asked the children: Why do we celebrate Harvest Festival?

Ans: It is a day when we remember and give thanks to God for all He has given us.

And as a result of God’s blessings, St. Paul urges us, in the first reading this morning to be generous to others.

Helen, where is our collection going today?

God wants us to have a generous heart. Not giving because we HAVE TO but because we WANT TO.

Look at what Paul says:

7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor 9:7)

And I am sure you are delighted that we are going to have the opportunity to be generous in the last hymn –

With a collection!!!!!.

Harvest Festival stands in a long tradition for God’s people. It goes back a good 4,000 years.

In our Old Testament the people of God, the Jews, had three major festivals; festivals where there was a three-line whip for all to attend.

1. The first festival was the Feast of Passover. It was usually held in April each year – at the beginning of the harvest.

It was at this festival that God’s people recalled how God himself had been their Saviour. For he had brought them miraculously out of slavery in Egypt.

And it is significant that it was at the Feast of Passover that Jesus was crucified in AD 29. Because through his death, he became our Saviour. He brought us out of the slavery to sin to become sons and daughters of God.

2. The second festival was the Feast of Weeks or Harvest, where the Jews gave thanks to God for their crop. This festival occurred at the end of the barley harvest.

It was also known as Pentecost because it was timed to be 50 days after Passover.

We read in Acts 2 that it was at Pentecost when the power of the Holy Spirit was released on the disciples. And they were then able to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.

And as the result of one sermon 3000 people became Christians. I wish I could preach like that!!!

3. And the third festival was the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurred after the grape and grain harvest was over.

It was at that festival that the Jews would camp out for a week in tents - recalling the temporary dwellings they had after the exodus.

All three of these festivals reminded them of God’s blessing on his people – in the physical and in the spiritual.

1. The Physical Harvest

My first thought is obvious – the physical harvest. This is, of course in the tradition of the Feast of Harvest or

Pentecost that we stand this morning.

Paul, in our reading reminds us of God’s provision for us when he says: "God supplies seed to the sower and bread for food."

And BREAD is a theme of my little talk today:

Question: But can anyone tell me what we need to make bread.

Corn (in the form of flour), Water, Sesame seeds Salt, Yeast, and a little bit of heat!!

Trick: Make bread.

2. The Bread of Life

While it is easy for us to remember the physical harvest, it is important that we also remember the spiritual harvest too.

Indeed my second thought stands more in the tradition of Passover

I wonder if any of you can remember any of Jesus’ words to do with bread:

“I am the bread of Life?” (Jn 6:35)

Question: What do you think Jesus meant when he said that - Did he mean that he had suddenly become a piece of bread?

Answer: Jesus meant that he alone could satisfy our deepest needs. Jesus is the spiritual; food of life.

Let’s look at the background to that statement.

Jesus has just fed a crowd of man and women who had come to hear him preach. He then left but the crowd followed him.

Why, because he had fulfilled a physical need – he had fed them when they were hungry.

Now Jesus challenges them:

“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me not because you saw the signs but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life” (Jn 6:26, 27)

What was Jesus’ mission on earth?

1. Was it to be a good teacher – well he was that

2. Was it to be a miracle worker - yes he was that

3. Was it to be a good example of how to live- yes he was that too.

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