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Harvest Festival -

This is a family service talk by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 5th October 2008.

Click here to read the bible passage. Click here to use larger text.

Song 4: Clap your hands

[set up table and props; Sam appears towards the end of the song]

Puppet Sketch

Me: Well please do sit down for something completely different.

Sam: What’s this some kind of naff lesson about 5-a day or something?

Me: No. We’re going to have a beauty parade.

Sam: Check it out. What’s the winner called then: Miss Riverside

Me: Well not exactly; the contestants aren’t all women.

Sam: What you mean you’re looking for hunks like me to do a Mr Universe as well?

Me: Not really, no.

Sam: Are you saying I’m puny?

Me: Wouldn’t dream of it. But we’re not talking about you. It’s Harvest, so we’re going to have Fruit and Veg beauty parade.

Sam: You what?

Me: A fruit and veg beauty parade. The contestants are lined here ready to parade in.

Sam: So where’s Simon Cowell and the rest of judges then?

Me: In the next room…. And speaking of the judges, I’m just receiving a message from them. So quiet for a moment. [pause] Ok yes we will get on with it then.

Adam Apple:

[Matt parades fruit across the front]


Me: So here we have Adam Apple in a lovely Red and Green outfit.

Sam: You what????

Me: And apparently if Adam Apple doesn’t make it in the health and beauty industry he’s going to retrain to be a speech therapist!

Sam: what are you talking about!

Me: Adam Apple.

Betty Banana

Me: And next we have Betty Banana who in a fetching skin tight suite.

Sam: And she’s here with a bunch of her friends!

Tim Tomato

Me: Next up is Tim Tomato.

Sam: He’s gone all red.

Me: That’s because he was a bit embarrassed earlier.

Sam: Why?

Me: He saw the salad dressing!

Ollie Onion

Me: And so next we have Ollie Onion.

Sam: And he’s must’ve gone shopping with Trinny and Susannah!

Me: What makes you say that!

Sam: Well he’s got lots of layers on!

Me: Oh hang on a minute, I’m getting another message from the judges…… Ollie Onion has been disqualified.

Sam: Why – I think he’s well cool.

Me: Apparently he made the girls cry in the kitchen.

Sam: Yesssssssss!

Olivia Orange

Me: and next up we have Olivia Orange. And apparently in her spare time, Oliva Orange likes to play tennis.

Sam: And her favourite score is deuce!

Me: Now who’s being corny!

Penny Pear

Me: We’re nearly through. And our penultimate contestant is Penny Pear.

Sam: Check out those freckles.

Me: Yes, I think the make-up’s gone a bit pear-shaped!

Pat Potato

Me: and finally, I give you Pat Potato.

Sam: He’s covered in mud. Get him off. You can’t win a beauty parade dressed like that.

Me: Well it has to be said, he does look a bit of a mess.

Sam: A bit; a right dog’s breakfast I’d say.

Me: I’m getting another message from the judges. We need to cut them open.

Sam: They don’t do that on Miss World

[Matt starts cutting the contestants in half]

Me: You’re right. But this is a harvest beauty parade remember. And so the judges want to see what’s on the inside. [pause] Ok thanks Matt.

Sam: Errrrrr, Adam Apple’s got maggots.

Me: And Betty Banana’s all mushy.

Sam: And Tim Tomato’s all mouldy.

Me: That’s nothing: Ollie Onion’s started sprouting.

Sam: And Olivia Orange’s got the pip.

Me: And Penny Pear’s even more pear-shaped on the inside.

Sam: But Pat Potato looks great.

Me: I thought you said he was covered in mud and disgusting.

Sam: Forget the outside; Pat Potato looks great on the inside.

Me: And the judges have confirmed it: Pat Potato’s the winner of the Harvest fruit and Veg beauty parade. So let’s have a round of applause for all my contestants and my wonderful assistant.

[Matt to clear away props etc + exit]

Me: And all that reminds me of an incident in the OT.

Sam: Yes I hear there’s loads of farming stuff in the OT.

Me: Well yes, but I wasn't thinking of a farming incident. I was thinking about a king.

Sam: I thought we had a Queen.

Me: Not our King or Queen, Israel’s.

Sam: Haven’t they got a Prime Minister.

Me: Not the modern state of Israel, but the OT Israel.

Sam: Right.

Me: Because in the OT book of 1 Sam, God had rejected Israel’s first King, King Saul.

Sam: cos he’d lost the election or something?

Me: No, because he'd disobeyed the Lord who’d made him King in the first place.

Sam: Sounds bad.

Me: It was. And so God was going to appoint a new King to replace Saul.

Sam: So they had a sort of beauty parade to choose their next leader.

Me: Well this was before the days of televised presidential contests.

Sam: You what?

Me: But you’re sort of right.

Sam: So they did have a beauty contest.

Me: Well God has said to the prophet Samuel that the next king would come from Jesse’s family.

Sam: You mean the next king would be one of Jesse’s sons.

Me: That’s right.

Sam: So how many sons did Jesse have?

Me: 8.

Sam: Noooooooo

Me: Yep.

Sam: So did they have a Citroen Picasso to get around in then!

Me: Probably not no.

Sam: So they had a sort of beauty contest with Jesse’s 8 sons to see which one was going to be King.

Me: Sort of yes.

Sam: Cool.

Me: And Samuel saw Jesse’s oldest Son Eliab, he thought, yep that’s the one. Surely this is the man the Lord wants to be King.

Sam: What because he was the oldest?

Me: And also because he was tall, strong and good looking.

Sam: Sounds cools to me.

Me: But not to God. Because the Lord said to Samuel:
[verse on the screen]

1 Sam 16:7 [But the LORD said to Samuel] "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."


Sam
: That’s like the beauty competition we had earlier.

Me: Exactly.

Sam: So who did he choose; the youngest one who was still skinny and puny!

Me: Right again. God told Samuel to anoint David as the next King of Israel. And David was still a boy; net even strong enough to lift up a sword at this point. But even at this tender age, David loved the Lord and the Lord was with David. And as we know, King David went on to write many of the Psalms we still read in our Bibles.

Sam: So David was a Christian then?

Me: David walked closely with the Lord as one of His genuine people yes. And the point is that God’s not interested in external appearances. God’s more concerned about what’s inside us. You see it’s perfectly possible to be clean and cool on the outside, and yet, underneath the image, to be a nasty person.

Sam: Yeah, I know someone like that.

Me: [looking at Sam] Yes, so do I.

Sam: What do you mean?

Me: I mean you can be cool at school, or when you’re grown up you can be known as an upstanding member of the community, or maybe even a religious person; you could be any of those things and yet still not be right with God.

Sam: Don’t get it.

Me: Well maybe Jesus can help you, because Jesus once said:

[ next verse on the screen]

Mark 7:20 "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

Sam: Well I’m alright then, cos I ain't murdered anyone,

Me: So you’ve never called anyone names at school or been so cross with someone that you wanted to hit them.

Sam: well I did have a fight with someone in the playground once…

Me: Exactly.

Sam: In self-defence of course.

Me: Of course. But the point Jesus was making is that underneath the mask, every single one of us has done, said or thought something wrong.

Sam: How does he know then?

Me: Because He’s God and He knows everything.

Sam: That’s intense man!

Me: Well it is quite scary to think that God knows every single thing about us; everything we’ve ever thought; everything we’ve ever done; everything we’ve ever said, even if it was behind closed doors. There’s no secrets when it comes to God; God knows all about us. And so God knows what we all know if we’re being honest for a moment. None of us are perfect are we? And underneath our respectable masks, there’s bad stuff in our lives that makes us ashamed; there’s bad stuff in our lives that needs dealing with.

Sam: Well bad man.

Me: It is well bad. Because not only does Jesus know all about our bad stuff, he’s told us what he’s going to do about it.

Sam: What’s that then?

Me: He’s going to judge us. Because Jesus is God and he’s totally perfect, one day, he’s going to judge people for all the bad stuff in their lives.

Sam: But you said that we’ve all done bad stuff.

Me: That’s right.

Sam: This is well bad man. We’re all going to be judged.

Me: But there is some good news.

Sam: Good News?

Me: Yes Good News. That’s what the word Gospel actually means: good news.

Sam: If we’re all bad on the inside and facing God’s judgment, what’s good about that?

Me: That’s the bad news. But the Good News is why Jesus came. Jesus came to clear up the mess. And he did that by dieing on the cross. Because on the cross, Jesus was taking the punishment for all the bad things God’s people had ever done. On the cross, Jesus was punished so that we don’t have to be. For the Christian, Jesus has taken their place. And if you are a Christian, not only has he taken your punishment, but he’s also started cleaning you up from the inside out.

Sam: So am I Christian then?

Me: Well do you believe that Jesus is God and that he died in your place on the cross?

Sam: Well not sure; it’s a bit much to take in man, you know.

Me: well then you’re not a Christian.

Sam: Well thanks for that vicar; I’ve just remembered that I’m meeting a mate for a bit of Grand theft Auto on the old playstation. Catch you later.

[Sam exit]

Me: And that’s the reaction lots of people have to J’s message. We’re OK with the baby Jesus at Christmas. We’re OK with giving thanks to God at Harvest, even if we’re not sure which God we’re thanking. But lots of people do a Sam the Cam when Jesus tells them about their sin and their need to be forgiven; about their need to be cleaned up from the inside out.

And maybe that’s you. And if it is, then can I encourage you to take a closer look at the Christian message. Because God really does look at the heart. He’s not interested in the masks we put on in public. And he wants you to have the time and space to think about the issues of eternity. Harvest festivals come and go. But Heaven and Hell go on for ever. And Jesus wants to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Jesus wants to make sure you’re on the road to Heaven not hell. Because unless our sins are forgiven in Jesus name, we’re on the wrong road.

And there are lots of ways you can find out more about the Christian message here at Riv church.

1. And the main way is to come back to church on Sundays at 11am here in the community centre. Every Sunday, there’s a crèche; the first Sunday of the month is normally a Family Service like this And on all other Sundays, our Sunday School operates during the service.

2. On Tues we run a group called Jesus Club from 5:45 – 6:45pm again here in the Community Centre for children aged 5-11.

3. And for teenagers and adults who want to investigate the astonishing things Jesus said about us and about himself, this term we’re running a new course called Identity; and Identity is a course that especially looks at these issues: Who is God and Who are we? So why not come along and clear up the confusion. That’s the Identity course starting on Thur 16 October; and if that might be for you, then do pick up one of these cards after the Service.

4. And you can find those cards and details of everything else going on at Riv from the Information Stand [location]. So if you’re new to Riv church, then can I encourage you to pick up a Welcome Pack from the Information Stand which will tell you all about Riv church.

Now before we close in prayer, let’s reflect again on God’s Word:

[on the screen]

1 Sam 16:7 [But the LORD said to Samuel] "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

[ next verse on the screen]

And Jesus said:

Mark 7:20 "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

Let’s pray.

Closing Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are Lord of the Harvest, that you’re in control of everything and you see and know everything, even the stuff on our insides. Thank you that you not only provide us with food to eat, but with Jesus to forgive us ours sins and clean us up from the inside out. Help us to take the message of Jesus seriously and to make sure that we’re clean on the inside, forgiven and on the right road, the road to an eternal heavenly future with you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

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