By Revd Adam Rylett, Associate Vicar of Holy Trinity Barnes.
What is your favourite story? My daughter and I have just finished reading a story together, it’s called ‘Gansta Granny’, and is about a boy who is bored of having to stay at his Grans house and eat cabbage until one day he discovers a mysterious hoard of jewels in her house.
We all love stories, whether they are in books, films or television, we even love to tell one another stories of what is happening in our lives. Because each of our lives has a story, maybe not as exciting as some of the things we watch or read about, but we still have our own stories.
Each of us has a story to tell which is unique to us, but also our stories have things in common. We might live in a similar area, we share the story of our community and our nation. Story is really important as it helps us to understand who we are, what our identity is, and harvest is an important part of our story.
You might be thinking that I’ve lost the plot at this point, some of you might have an allotment, or you might grow vegetables in your gardens, but I doubt many, if any, of you are involved in farming. But I suspect that all of you eat at some point during the week, eating is one of those basic human needs that connects us all, everyone across the planet.
The story of harvest, where our food comes from, the people who produce it and the God who gave it to us are important parts of our stories that we do well to remember. Knowing this part of our story connects us with others and enables us to understand one another and to empathise, and it connects us to God and enables us to be thankful.
Our first reading from the Bible was the description of a harvest festival in ancient Israel, and one of the things that struck me about this as I read it was that when the people brought their gifts for the harvest festival they didn’t just give thanks they remembered the story of their people, the story that they shared, the story that made them who they were: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor…’
Story is important, it helps us to know who we are and Christians are people who share a story, belong to a story. It’s the story that is found in the Bible, the story of God and his love for all people; the story that begins with the creation of the world, tells us how suffering and sadness entered God’s creation and how God will rid the world of death and mourning and crying and pain.
And at the centre of the Christian story is Jesus, who said ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’. Jesus who plays the decisive role in history, showing us God and making it possible for us to know him. Jesus who defeated death and gives us a glimpse of how the story is going to end as he rose from the dead.
The people who were listening to Jesus tell the amazing story of God, wanted to know how they might become part of this great story, how they too might know God and life in all its fullness. Jesus’ response to them was that they only needed to believe in him, to make his story their own. Jesus’ story is amazing and it has connected with people for thousands of years and still connects with people today as they read it and hear about it, and we too can become part of his story when we believe in him.