Have you been out harvesting yet? I have, in fact I have just got back from yet another harvesting expedition. I prefer to do it reasonably early on a Friday morning, before lots of other people get there and I never do it on a Saturday; that would be really unpleasant. Of course I do not use a scythe or combine harvester, my machine of choice is a medium sized shopping trolley with a bracket for the self scan handset. The fields or should I say shelves are ripe with the nicests things. In one sweep of the trolley I was able to pick up potatoes from Israel, beans from Kenya, Grapes from Spain and thankfully Leeks from Lincolnshire. What an incredible harvest, and I reward myself for all my hard work by sitting and enjoying an Americano with coffee beans all the way from Columbia.

Matthias Claudius could never have dreamed of the harvest we now enjoy when he wrote "We Plough the Fields and Scatter" in Germany in 1782. I suspect that even as recently as our grandparents people would have walked round our supermarkets open mouthed because of the vast range of products which we now take for granted.

As I child I have vivid memories of people preparing the display of harvest food at church and of the aroma created by the fruit and harvest loaves. Each year we sang the harvest hymns and the following evening shared in the harvest supper partly prepared with some of the donated food. The best bit was eating slices of the harvest loaves, I still remember the tasty crust. When we first came to Redditch the church was always decorated with some of the most beautiful chrysanthemums grown by Mr Smith one of our older members. We continue to be fortunate because of the work and gifts of some of our congregation who help to decorate our church.

What are we celebrating at harvest these days? Life has changed so much and we are now so disconnected from how and where our food is grown and produced. Food no longer seems to be limited to particular seasons of the year. We do not sigh with relief when we see the corn in the barn, nor do we worry about whether the flour will be there to make our bread, so is it appropriate for us to celebrate harvest in September each year? Well you know what I am going to say, yes we should, although our thanks for God’s provision should be a regular theme of our praise. Despite the pressures on creation it continues to provide for all our needs, but if anything part of our praise should be for the mutual support of people around the world who work to grow the food we are constantly able to enjoy. We are well protected in this country from the vagaries of the weather, shortages and plagues which is something we should be most grateful for.

God’s promise to mankind in Genesis 8 v 22 was “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

We exist purely because of God’s faithfulness to mankind and his individual goodness and grace to each of us. His instruction to his chosen people in the Old Testament was that they were to praise him by offering to him sacrifices of the ‘first fruits’, one tenth of the best that they had was to be given to God in thankfulness to him. This should be an example and reminder to us of our indebtedness to God for his daily goodness, and this theme should be our focus in our harvest festival this year.

So the next time you go harvesting the shelves of your favourite supermarket maybe we should at least hum a well know harvest hymn and thank God for his generous provision.