We noticed a real change in the park this morning, autumn colours and mists were in evidence. Just the right time to celebrate harvest.
Since pagan times there has been a festival to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest and, as with many ancient festivals the Christian church adapted and adopted it making it their own. Traditionally it was in August (well the harvest is very late this year!). Lammas day or loaf mass day marked the beginning of the harvest season, the ripening of first fruits, and the first wheat harvest of the year. On this day it was customary to bring to church a loaf made from the new crop.
So we had some home baked bread and as it turned out we had no need of breakfast this morning.
For the promise of harvest
contained within a seed
we thank you.
For the oak tree
within an acorn
within a grain
within a pip
The mystery of nature
for us to sow
we thank you
We chewed on our first piece of bread, whilst walking slowly around the bandstand taking in the beauty of the autumn morning and thanking God for his provision for us.
Taking another piece of bread we remembered those who do not have the provision of basic food because of war, famine or natural disaster
We took oil from Palestine remembering it was an area of continuing conflict, hostility and oppression. We prayed for all those who find themselves in situations of hostility, oppression or conflict.
We prayed for those we know who are in need.
Why did we use the oil? – It has been used symbolically in many ways by both Jews and Christians over the years. Oil is mentioned in many contexts in the bible.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” Psalm 23:5b
The Psalmist David knew about shepherding sheep. At the end of the day it was customary for the shepherd to station himself at the door of the sheepfold, where he would examine each sheep as it passed. He would especially examine the head for injuries. When he noticed a sheep with an injury on the head, he would pour a little oil on the wound, thus anointing it. The oil had healing properties, and the sheep would soon be well again.
The oil lamp in Jewish Scriptures most often symbolizes God lighting the way for his people.
Christians used oil in lamps to represent Jesus the Light of the World
Oil is used for anointing for healing, light, the bible talks about the oil of joy and oil of gladness.
Oil also symbolises the Holy Spirit – OT prophets, priests and kings were anointed on the head with oil and this act symbolised the setting apart of the individual for special service. David was anointed as king several times during his life time.
Jesus refers to his special commissioning when he says;
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. . . .” (Luke 4:18)
Instead of anointing our heads with oil we anointed the bread and shared it with one another saying:
Name ……the Spirit of the Lord is upon you – you are set apart for a special purpose within the Kingdom of God.
The next piece of bread was used for our customary sharing of bread and wine – what other liturgy could we use for this but our Companions Liturgy.