A Harvest of Work Service

Worship / Produced by partner of TOW

This Sample Service is part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more services, prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.

A "HARVEST OF WORK" SERVICE IN AN ORDINARY LOCAL CHURCH SETTING

 

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

The worship leader explains why a "more-than-agricultural" harvest is being celebrated. S/he could make the following points: Less than 2% nationally work in agriculture [in our area it is x %]. This service enables all the work done by our congregational members to be offered to God. Tokens of our work will be brought up during the service [or placed at the front beforehand] and put beside the more traditional harvest exhibits. [Alternatively, or in addition, we have an exhibition of the work of local firms, and this symbolises our offering to God all the goods and services produced/provided in our own locality.]

 

HYMN

(Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation)
[See the note on Hymns on the introduction page]

 

PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING

Lord of the Universe, we praise you for your creation, for the wonders of space, the beauty of the world,
the value of the earth's resources, and the skills of hand and brain which enrich our lives.

We thank you for humanity in all its diversity, for the unique individuality of every child, woman and
man, for the gathered communities of home, work and leisure; of village, city and nation.

We thank you for offering us the chance to share in creation through the work of hand and brain; for the
opportunity to plan and design, to manufacture and grow, to service and conserve, and to care for one
another in the places where we work.

We thank you for giving us special gifts and responsibilities, for enabling us to stand upright and make
choices, for presenting us with opportunities to promote justice and truth.

And because he shared with us our humanity and our world, we thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus
Christ, our beginning and our end, who carried out your work to your praise and glory and for the renewal
of your creation. So we make our prayer to you in his name, who died and rose again for us. Amen.

 

THE LORD'S PRAYER

 

PSALM 103:1-8,14-22

 

THE FIRST READING

Ecclesiasticus 38: 24-end
(Revised English Bible)

A scholar's wisdom comes of ample leisure; to be wise he must be relieved of other tasks. How can one become wise who follows the plough, whose pride is in wielding the goad, who is absorbed in the task of driving oxen, whose talk is all about cattle? He concentrates on ploughing his furrows, and toils late to give the heifers their fodder. So it is with every craftsman and designer working both day and night. Such are those who make engravings on signets and patiently vary the design; they concentrate on making an exact likeness and stay up to all hours to finish their task. So it is with the smith, sitting by his anvil, intent on his ironwork. The fiery vapours shrivel his flesh as he wrestles in the heat of the furnace; the hammer rings in his ears again and again, and his eyes are on the pattern he is copying. He concentrates on completing the task and stays up late to give it a perfect finish. So it is with the potter, sitting at his work, turning the wheel with his feet, always engrossed in the task of making up his tally of vessels; he moulds the clay with his arm, crouching forward to exert his strength. He concentrates on finishing the glazing, and stays up to clean out the furnace.

All those rely on their hands, and each is skilful at his own craft. Without them a city would have no inhabitants; no settlers or travellers would come to it. Yet they are not in demand at public discussions, nor do they attain to high office in the assembly. They do not sit on the judge's bench or understand the decisions of the courts. They cannot expound moral or legal principles and are not ready with maxims. But they maintain the fabric of this world, and the practice of their craft is their prayer.

 

HYMN

(Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord)

 

THE SECOND READING

The Church's Affirmation of Work
(The Bishop of Ripon, 1978)

We know, when we stop to think, that we are dependent on industry, and yet we are unable to affirm industrial life as being of real worth. This is a basic sickness at the heart of our society, a failure in our fundamental attitudes. Put in religious terms, we are unable to relate our belief in the creative power and purpose of God to the existence of factories and mills and power stations and office blocks. In an agricultural society, praise is given to God for his power in the rhythm of seed-time and harvest, for his mercy in the fresh growth each year of grain and crops. Even today harvest festivals exercise an attraction even in the most urban of parishes surrounded by brick for miles and without a field or a farm within its boundaries. Where is the corresponding affirmation of God at work within the industrial process? A piece of coal amidst the apples in the sanctuary, or a cog wheel among the chrysanthemums is nothing more than a reluctant admission that our lives today depend upon coal and cogs, upon oil and computers as much as upon crops and cattle. We need a joyful celebration of the worth of the industrial undertaking, a celebration which must have its religious aspect. When a Festival of Industry touches our hearts as deeply as does harvest festival, then we shall have overcome our sickness. Just as individuals cannot live in a healthy way if they deny part of themselves as evil, so societies cannot live in a healthy way if they believe that a significant part of their social life is somehow evil; or even if they feel that it is dubious. There is nothing dubious about converting the wealth of resources with which God has endowed this world into means by which human beings may live and realise the purposes for which God has created them.

 

INVITATION TO CONFESSION

We who have received much have not always been grateful. We who have been called to work with God for the good of others as well as ourselves have often been selfish. We who have been called to live in the light often choose darkness. We who have been called to be salt to the world often prove to have no taste. In the knowledge of our weakness, ignorance and deliberate choice, let us confess our sins to Almighty God.

 

CONFESSION

Almighty God, with sorrow we confess that the gifts you have given us are spoiled by our selfishness and lack of regard for your sovereign will. We have failed to love you or your creation. We have failed to see you in our daily work, or in those who share it with us. We have taken for granted those who serve us through the gift of their labour. We are sorry for our failures, which have been hurtful to us as well as to others. Release us from the burden of our guilt so that we can step into the future unafraid, and, strengthened by the knowledge of your abiding love, follow in the footsteps of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Priest/minister shall pronouce

 

ABSOLUTION

Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you [us], pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

INTERCESSIONS

O God the Father, Creator of all things:
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world:
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Holy Spirit, Giver of life
Have mercy upon us.

O Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three Persons and one God:
Have mercy upon us.

From envy, avarice and status-seeking, from covetousness which is idolatry;
from wanting more than is our fair share:
Good Lord, deliver us.

From ruthlessness in making money, and from irresponsibility in spending it:
Good Lord, deliver us.

From unwillingness to know the cost to others of our own standard of living:
Good Lord, deliver us.

For financiers and politicians, industrialists and trade unionists, and all who wield economic power;
that they may have grace, wisdom and compassion:
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the bewildered and those who cannot cope with a budget or with filling in forms or with the pressures of modern life:
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the victims of inflation, pensioners, people on small fixed incomes, and all who have been robbed of their savings:
Lord, hear our prayer.

For those who cannot find jobs, or homes they can afford, for people made redundant for whatever reason:
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the increase of the fruits of the earth, that all may enjoy them:
Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, when we are deciding how to make money, how to steward it, and what to do with it; help us to look hard at our motives, our aims and our prejudices - honestly, as in your sight. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sake became poor; grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires and inordinate love of riches, and to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

HYMN

(For the fruits of his creation)

 

THIRD READING

(2 Corinthians 9:6-end)

 

OFFERTORY HYMN

(Take my life, and let it be)

[During the offertory hymn examples of work will be brought to the altar/table/front of the church]

 

OFFERTORY PRAYER

All say
Living God
We come with no great gifts to offer,
We are ordinary people.
Yet what we have, we bring to you,
To make your love felt in other people's lives.
We offer you our time and our talents
At home, at work and in the market place.
Use us fully so that your love may shine through us,
And the light of your kingdom
May illuminate the world. Amen.

 

THE SERMON

(Suggested Sermon: The Worth of All Work)

 

HYMN

(Father, Lord of all creation)

 

CLOSING PRAYERS

O Lord our God, who has called us to serve you in the midst of the world's affairs; when we stumble, hold us; when we fall, lift us up; when we are hard pressed with evil, deliver us; when we turn from what is good, turn us back. And bring us at last to your glory. Amen.
(Alcuin)

O Lord our Saviour, who has warned us that thou wilt require much of those to whom much is given; grant that we, whose lot is cast in so goodly a heritage, may strive together the more abundantly to extend to others what we so richly enjoy; and as we are entered into the labours of others, so to labour that in their turn others may enter into ours; to the fulfilment of thy holy will and our own everlasting salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(St.Augustine - adapted)

 

THE BLESSING

The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, rest upon you, and upon all you seek to do in his name, this day and for evermore. Amen.



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