June 14, 2020

Questions for Today

Preacher:

It was late in the summer of 2012,
I was driving alone across the prairies, returning home after fourteen weeks away.

I had just completed two- and one-half months of student ministry in Winnipegosis, a small Manitoba town.

I had spent the summer in the presence of farmers.

Before church we talked about livestock, the weather and of course how the crops were doing.

After church, over lunch at the local hotel, the conversation ran much the same.

By the end of those fourteen weeks I had a heightened understanding of and appreciation for:
animal husbandry,
planting
and harvesting.

So, as I left town and headed for home, I was paying attention to what I saw.

The prairie fields I drove past were full.

Grazing cattle looked fat and sleek after a summer feeding on rich prairie grass.

The canola fields were a brilliant yellow.

The grain fields were just beginning to turn white as the harvest neared.

Enlightened by my summer education on the nuances of farming, prairie style,

I could feel a sense of excitement in the air as I drove; a sense of eager anticipation for an abundant harvest.

All summer long, during prayers of the people, we had prayed for good weather and a good harvest.

And now that harvest was about to happen.

The whole countryside felt alive with joy because a summer’s worth of prayer and hard work, was about to be rewarded.

Our scripture reading for today speaks of Jesus’ feelings  as he looked out over the harvest of souls the Father had prepared for him.

Judging from his words Jesus did not feel the joy of fulfilled prayer or the reward of the fruits of a job well done.

According to Matthew Jesus felt the compassion that one feels when looking out over a scene filled with people who are worried by the very real cares of this world, harassed by the hardships life so often brings.

Jesus’ compassion appears to have been accompanied by a sense of frustration, or maybe even a touch of desperation as he said,

“‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

So, Jesus prayed over the harvest,
just as we had, that summer in Winnipegosis.

But Jesus wasn’t praying for an abundant harvest as we had.

The abundance of the crops wasn’t the problem that Jesus saw.

The problem Jesus saw was finding the labourers he needed to be sure that the abundant harvest God had provided would be reaped.

The way Jesus solved his problem of the lack of harvesters is our lesson for today.

First Jesus asked his disciples to pray for labourers to appear who would enter into the harvest.

Presumably his disciples prayed as directed by their master.

Then Jesus put legs to their prayers by commanding them to roll up their sleeves and get out into the fields to gather in the harvest that God had prepared.

We here at Langley Presbyterian are a people of prayer.

God calls us to speak with him in prayer and we do.

Every day in church we take our prayers of praise and supplication before God’s throne through the words of our mouths and the earnest yearnings of our hearts.

God even provides for us the groanings of the Holy Spirit when we cannot express our innermost needs in articulated verbal prayer.

But like Jesus, once we have prayed.

God calls us to action, to enter into the harvest in the mission fields all around us.

And we do act, we enter into the harvest as a congregation through our physical and financial support of various caring ministries like Shepherd’s House, the Salvation Army, Langley Memorial hospital      and the hospital in Malawi.

We also act to grow the kingdom of heaven in our community through nurturing our partnership with the Restoration Community Church.

And we act as individuals by expressing our faith in word and deed to those who God sends us to serve in our personal lives.

And because God would never send us into a task unprepared or ill equipped, God freely gives us the tools we need to play our corporate and personal role in the great harvest.

As a congregation of individuals who are Christ’s mature disciples, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
We are grounded in sound doctrine.
We are empowered by the love of God.

Our characters are formed spiritually through our personal devotions and our intentional obedience to God’s word.

We each have been made strong in our witness to Christ because we have received the gift of faith in Jesus as Son of God; faith which gives us hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

And again, as mature Christian disciples we are aware that all this equipping and preparing that God has done for us, is not for our own benefit, but for the good of others.

Thus prepared and empowered, God sends each of us out from our personal comfort zones,  into the mission fields of our individual lives.

When we are at work, we stand knee-deep in God’s harvest.

And God is there with us, to free us from our fear and anxiety, to open our mouths to proclaim the good news of the coming of the kingdom to those who ask why we are so different from others.

When we are at home, God is there helping us to teach our children to do everything Jesus has commanded us.

When we open our homes to friends and acquaintances, God is there too,  blessing with his peace those who come to find a place of shelter from the storms of this life.

When we are at the grocery store, when we are buying and selling,

God’s harvest is all around us.

God’s love and grace, expressed in our words and deeds, are the reaping tools we take out from our homes and out past the doors of the church into the harvest fields of business and commerce.

We are mature disciples of Jesus, each of us with many years of experience in living the truth of the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

We lack nothing materially or spiritually to prevent us from participating fully in Jesus’ commission to his disciples.

‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Let us remember Jesus is always with us.

Let us enter into his harvest.

His harvest is great.

We are many.

Let us share the work.

Let us share the joy.

Amen.