St. Andrew's Benefice
Pippa's Sermon - Trinity 16
Harvest 2020 – Thoughts on the readings - Matthew 21:23-32; Philippians 2:1-13
Harvest feels such a glorious, golden time of year. Even when it's raining. We can see all
God's provision of fruit, vegetables, flowers, so much... rosehips, hawthorn, sloes in the
hedgerows; the last of the apples still on the trees.
We rejoice, sing alleluia. Give thanks.
But this year, alas, we can’t give thanks as we usually do, with all the familiar hymns and a Harvest supper – though we can have at least have the autumn colour from the flowers on the church’s windowsills. For the growing time, the green time of the Trinity season has been full of restrictions, of lockdown, so we can’t make it the same.
But – it has been a growing season of a different sort. We have found out quite a lot about ourselves – and other people. And the amazing, helpful caring there has been, whose seeds were there and grew and grew a hundredfold. Maybe, maybe we have grown nearer to that which brings completeness to Paul’s joy in his letter to the Philippians - ‘ having the same love, being one in spirit .... not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others ... have the same mindset as Christ Jesus’ .
And Paul goes on ‘ ...who humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.’
Which brings me to the gospel – the later part; in the first bit the chief priest and scribes
remind me too much of MPs trying to work out what will get them the most votes, right or wrong. But further on in verse 28 we have two sons working for their father in the vineyard. And indeed you can imagine it – if you have children of your own you love them all, but sometimes, sometimes, one does rather better than another at being helpful. However there is more to it than this. And too we have before us anther version of this story. We are God’s children; he wants us to help, to work in his vineyard. To have the same mind in us as Christ. We know the story of the Passion and Jesus’ words in Gethsemane ‘My Father if it is possible let this cup pass from me’ The son who for a moment, a very human moment, said ‘No’. But goes on ‘– yet not my will, but thine.’ We remember the words of the disciples, especially Peter - ‘I will never desert you’ he says; and then the cock crows thrice; and the others have already run away. The ones who all said ‘Yes!’ and then let him down. And with the Resurrection found their faith again.
It’s quite clear to Jesus’ listeners who it is who did the will of the father – and to us too. Are we ever like the first son – asked by God to do something we don’t want to do? Are we ever like the second son – saying we will and then sliding away? .....
Think about it; and think too of the abundant harvest. The harvest that came from Christ’s love and sacrifice. The harvest that came from the disciples going about the world spreading the gospel. The harvest that we too can bring.
And shout and sing in your heart
‘Alleluia!’ For Christ’s kingdom comes.
And here is one of the collects for this Sunday to hold in your heart, especially at the hard times -
you call us to fullness of life:
deliver us from unbelief
and banish our anxieties
with the liberating love of Jesus Christ our Lord.