When we mark harvest will depend on where we live. Gathering in the corn or barley is a weather-dependent task. How we think about our harvest will differ according to our needs, our essential foods, and the context in which we exist and place our reflections.
Since 2008 Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has compiled a programme of resources to encourage and assist churches to observe Creation Time, which stretches from 1 September to the feast of St Francis on 4 October – and so covering the “harvest season” for many in Britain.
In addition, in 2015 Pope Francis established an annual day of global prayer for creation to be celebrated on 1 September; an event that offers a hand of friendship to the Orthodox Church, which established a similar day of prayer in 1989.
Worship material for Creation Time 2016 comes from an ecumenical writing group, with contributors from the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the United Reformed Church.
It follows the theme, Followers of Jesus, Caring for Creation, emphasising the readings from the Gospel of Luke that appear in the Revised Common Lectionary in September.
Week One (4 September) Careful Planning Priorities (Luke 14: 25-33)
Week Two (11 September) Keeping to the Right Path (Luke 15:1-10)
Week Three (18 September) Caring Locally, Caring Globally (Luke 16:1-13)
Week Four (25 September) Caring for all Creation (Luke 16:19-31)
Additional Creation Time resources from past years are available on the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) website.
The Creation Time resources for 2016 include hymn suggestions for each week of worship (see below) but we’ve also compiled a quick reference list of suitable hymns for use in Creation Time. See also StF’s harvest hymns listed under Harvest in the Festivals and Seasons search category.
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote:
“The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”
The Catholic aid agency CAFOD has put together resources that draw on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’ – including a Prayer for Creation and a Prayer Vigil, as well as a study guide to accompany the encyclical.
All We Can (formerly The Methodist Relief and Development Fund) has produced its annual Harvest resources, including Bible studies and an order for worship – this year with a special focus on the need of clean water to improve lives.
There are many books of prayer and liturgy suitable for Creation Time and Harvest festivals. Two staples that have stood the test of time (and both produced in collaboration with Christian Aid) are:
Harvest for the World: a worship anthology on sharing in the work of creation – compiled by Geoffrey Duncan
Bread of Tomorrow: praying with the world’s poor – edited by Janet Morley.
The Royal School of Church Music has produced an excellent resource, Bread of life: a festival service for young voices celebrating God’s physical and spiritual gift of food. As our review suggests, this is a flexible resource that can be adapted for all sorts of music groups and many different occasions.
This year, Creation Time precedes the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles or the Sukkot on 17-18 October (read more about Sukkot here). This festival inspired StF+’s reflections on living in a fragile world.