What does it mean to celebrate the Harvest in Salford? It’s very unlikely that we’ll have any farmers or farm labourers in the service today – professionally the closest we come is at the other end of the supply chain – those who stack shelves or sit at checkouts, who wait at tables or who drive delivery trucks.

But while we may be miles away from the softly backlit, country idyll portrayed in the Vicar of Dibley – the key aspects of Harvest are every bit as applicable here as they are in the rolling shires.

Today, can I encourage every one of us to . . .

Be thankful for God’s generous provision – which is as abundant today as when Paul told the church in Philippi that “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians chapter 4, verse 19)

Be generous with God’s generous provision. Generosity of heart towards the poor is very close to God’s own heart. As Isaiah poetically declares – “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness.” (Isaiah chapter 58 verse 10)

Though the practical gifts we offer today will be significant for those who benefit from them, in many ways their value is also symbolic. And symbols can be either empty of meaning or full of meaning. So the Urban Harvest for Barnabus poses two alternatives.

Will our offering be an empty symbol, merely following a ritual to fit in with our friends?
Or will it be pregnant with meaning – an opportunity to respond to God’s generosity by  giving more control of our decisions, purses, wallets and bank accounts into his hands?

Pastor David