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Summary: Wheat or Darnel - what grabs your attention?

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Harvest Festival 2006

Christian and Susannah – pastors from Ransdorf, just outside Berlin in Germany have been staying with us this weekend. And at breakafast yesterday we spoke about about their “Harvest Festival” in Germany

And the German word for “Harvest Festival” is “Erntedankfest” which literally translates as Harvest Thankssgiving Festival.

And we have lost the word “thankfulness” from the title of our Harvest Festival. And I am reminded that in all things we are called to be thankful.

Harvest Festival is – as our OT reading reminded us – a good 3-4,000 years old. We stand in a long tradition. In Moses’ day it was called the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of the Ingathering.

Our forefathers were not so much thankful FOR something as they were thankful IN something.

When they had a lot, or when they had a little they were thankful. It was just a way of thinking!

At the time of festivals or in famine they were thankful. In joy or in misery they were thankful.

There is a big difference between being thankful FOR things and being thankful IN all things.

The hymn "Now Thank We All Our God" was written in 1637 by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649).

Rinkart was a Lutheran minister, was in Eilenburg, Saxony, during the Thirty Years’ War.

The walled city of Eilenburg saw a steady stream of refugees pour through its gates and soon the Swedish army surrounded the city.

Famine and plague soon broke out.

It is said that in 1637 when Rinkart wrote his hymn, he buried 4480 people in Eilenburg, including his wife and his children, who had died of the plague

The death toll placed a tremendous strain on the pastors who had to conduct dozens of funerals daily.

Finally, one after the other of the pastors succumbed to the plague, until Rinkart was the only one left—doing 50 funerals a day.

When the Swedes demanded a huge ransom, Rinkart left the safety of the walls to plead for mercy.

The Swedish commander, impressed by his faith and courage, lowered his demands.

It is a testament to his faith that, during such misery, he was able to write a hymn of abiding trust and gratitude toward God.

Let me read the words to you:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;

Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;

And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;

And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;

The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;

The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;

For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

The Christian faith affirms that in the midst of everything--in death, in loss, in hardship--we are to be thankful to.Lo

And although we no longer live in such an agrarian society as Rinkart – and indeed as Jesus lived, we have much to thank God for.

What do you think we can be thankful for?

Ideas?

For:

Peace in our country

Enough to eat

For those who look after us

For our jobs or our pension

For our social services

For electricity

Jesus gave us some wonderful teaching about how God wants us to live our lives.

And to do this he used simple Parables or stories to help us understand God’s message to us

Matthew Chapter 13 is full of such parables

The chapter opens with the Parable of the Sower and in it, Jesus tells us of four different types of soil into which seed can be sown.

Each of these soils represent four possible different responses to Jesus’ words.

In the parable of the Sower,

1. The first ground of that parable is the path, which is too hard to let the seed take root

2. The second type of soil in Jesus’ parable is the rocky ground with shallow soil. Again the roots can’t take

3. The third type of soil is good but the environment is bad and chokes the seed.

4. And the final ground of Jesus’ parable is the good soil, where the seed produces a wonderful crop.

Today’s parable of the wheat and weeds begins WHERE the previous parable left off - with the crop growing in the good soil.

Actually, the parable has lost a bit in translation, because the word we used as ” weed” is actually a much stronger word. It means “darnel”

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