Lammas Sunday Service - 2nd August 2020
Lammas or ‘Loaf-mass’ (derived from the Anglo-Saxon Hlafmaesse) is an English feast in origin, held on 1st August as a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Traditionally, a newly baked loaf from the wheat harvest was presented before God within the mass of that day. While the ceremony ceased at the Reformation, reference to Lammas Day continued in the Prayer Book calendar, and the practice has been revived in some places in more recent years. The tradition of giving thanks for the first-fruits need not be limited to 1st August, and churches are at liberty to decide when to hold such a celebration.
Please join in with the words in bold. The bold with underlining is to mark the sections. You may remain seated throughout or sit or kneel or stand when we usually do so in church.
The Welcome & Gathering
The president greets the people
The earth is the Lord's
And all that is upon it
Created and creative things
Fruit and Fruitfulness
Springtime and Summer
Seedtime and harvest
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit in me
Words of life
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’
Help us, Father, to love one another, and to work together for that day
when the whole world is fed, suffering is ended, and all creation is gathered in your loving arms. Amen.
Prayer of Preparation
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Invitation to Confession
Brothers and sisters, as we prepare to celebrate,
let us call to mind our sins.
God our Father, full of grace and truth, we confess that we have sinned against you and our neighbour. We have wounded your love and marred your image in us. Restore us for the sake of your Son, and bring us to heavenly joy, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon and forgiveness of all your sins, time for amendment of life, and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness and you give us fruits of the earth in their season: grant that we may use them to your glory, for the relief of those in need and for our own well-being; through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Joel.
Glory to you, O Lord.
Reading Joel 2 (NRSV)
21 Do not fear, O soil;
be glad and rejoice,
for the Lord has done great things!
22 Do not fear, you animals of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
23 O children of Zion, be glad
and rejoice in the Lord your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the later rain, as before.
24 The threshing-floors shall be full of grain,
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
25 I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent against you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again
be put to shame.
At the end the reader may say
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
Reflection on Lammas from the Arthur Rank website.
Pious Christians sometimes look very nervous when they are reminded that many Christian festivals are based on, or rather superimposed on, earlier pagan ones.
The ancient Celtic world gave thanks as the harvest began to be brought in, and the first bread from the first flour from the first wheat was baked. The first day of August was the date of their festival, and the first Saxon Christians simply took it over and renamed it ‘loaf mass’, which in time became ‘Lammas’. And Lammas was celebrated up to the Reformation and beyond, until the Industrial Revolution began to drive a cast-iron wedge between the people and the land and its ancient rhythms. Gradually Lammas, like Plough Sunday and Rogation, began to die out except in the most rural communities, and no longer were the first harvest loaves brought to church at Lammas-tide to be offered on the altar as a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the harvest.
It fell to an eccentric priest of the Church of England, Robert Hawker, to revive something of the ancient Lammas tradition in his little parish of Morwenstow in Cornwall. Hawker was a highly colourful figure in more senses than one. He habitually dressed in a claret-coloured coat, a blue fisherman’s jersey, long sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a poncho made from a yellow horse blanket. He talked to the birds, invited his nine cats into church – which he kept liberally strewn with herbs – and kept a pig as a pet. But in 1843 he introduced the first ever Harvest Festival service, inviting his parishioners to give thanks to God for a plentiful yield from the land. He moved the service from the traditional beginning of harvest, 1st August, to its end – 1st October, which is why Harvest Festival is now always at either the end of September or the beginning of October. For from that remote Cornish parish the custom rapidly spread until nearly every church of nearly every denomination in nearly every part of the country had to have its harvest festival.
1 August is Lammas Day - an English Quarter Days. These were the days on which rents were paid and servants were hired, and the day on which the clergy stipends were due. In old fashioned terms, it was a day of reckoning. A day when the tabs were all added up. The balance sheets balanced. Debts were settled. And a line was drawn under what had gone before in order to provide for a clean sheet to begin business again. So Lammas was more than just a day of reckoning and settling up. It is also a traditional harvest festival day and it was a celebration of the first fruits of the harvest. Most people think that Harvest Festival should come in autumn but Lammas predated harvest festivals as we know them by SEVERAL hundreds of years!
So what is Jesus saying in the gospels?
Jesus certainly seemed to be speaking about the day of reckoning that comes of each of us and about the nature of the balance sheet that we are left with at the end of life. He is asking us to question our systems of giving value to what we encounter in this world.
It is quite likely that he may be encouraging us to recognise that our wealth can be better measured by what we give than by what we retain.
And Jesus is asking us, and not for the first time, to ask real and serious questions about what we do about with what we own.
When Jesus thought about ethical questions, he does seem to have thought in terms of property, possessions and what we do with what we have. Jesus, and those who first witnessed to his radical good news, seemed to care a great deal about money and possessions and what we do with them.
I don’t think that possessions in themselves are wrong. I don’t think that security in life is a bad thing. I don’t think that saving for a rainy day is a bad thing.
But I do believe that God calls on us to think about what we do with what we have. I do believe that God calls on us to offer everything we have in life and not the measly first-fruits of the harvest. And I do believe that we need to build for ourselves, not merely a pension fund of cash to see us through old age, but also another fund that we need to invest in that will see us through spiritual austerity when that seems to come. Into that pension pot, we need to store up things that will tide us through.
Into it go the wisdom we have learned, the ways of being spiritual we have been taught, the kindness we give and the kindliness we have received.
We need that sort of pension fund to lighten us up on dark days and to bring light to those around us whenever we need to crack it open.
We need to collect up the things that teach us that God loves us and store them for a rainy day. Those times when God seems close, those snatches of beauty and courage that we encounter, and those glimpses we sometimes get of God’s love and intimacy and delight.
In the name of God, Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. Amen.
Statement of Belief
Creator God, from the moment your spirit hovered over the waters of this earth
we were part of a vision held lovingly within your heart.
From the moment you spoke and separated darkness from light
you created space where we might one day walk.
From the moment your joy spilled out into green and living things
your beauty was revealed for us to taste and see.
Creator God, for this world, beauty and majesty,
passion and artistry, a green and pleasant place,
we praise your mighty name.
Let us praise God: for the rich soil of the countryside, and drills drawn straight across the field; for the green corn springing out of the earth, and the warm sweetness of the rain: Let us praise God.
For the power of tractors and for all the machines that ease our labour; and for the skill of those who gather the harvest: Let us praise God.
For all who work on the farm and in the field; for their hope and courage in days of difficulty and disappointment: Let us praise God.
For those who, often unnoticed and unsung, provide their fellow citizens with the means of life, for the salvation of town and country: Let us praise God.
For all who take the true craftsman’s pride in the work they do, and know the satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work well done: Let us praise God.
For the bread given us as our daily food, and for that Bread of Life which we receive at the Lord’s table: Let us praise God.
Annie Heppenstall’s book of Uncommon Prayer FaithandWorship.com
Prayers of Intercession
May your peace shine among us and your love set us free, Lord, we pray. Keep us persevering in faith and set in our hearts the desire for your Kingdom. Guide your Church along the way of the Gospel; may your Holy Spirit keep her welcoming...
We pray for our Queen and all the leaders of the nations; may they have the will to promote justice and freedom. For honesty in political life, for justice in society, Lord, we pray.
For those who toil to earn their daily bread, Lord, we pray,
For those without work or resources, Lord, we pray.
For those with no family or home, Lord, we pray.
For those who suffer from loneliness or abandonment, Lord, we pray.
For those who are oppressed or maligned, Lord, we pray.
O Christ, you have take our weaknesses upon yourself and taken charge of our illnesses; support those who are going through trials...
We entrust to you our families and friends, all who have asked for our prayers and who pray for us...
We bring to God someone whom we have met or remembered today, and for whom we want to pray.
We bring to God someone who is hurting today and needs our prayer.
We bring to God a troubled situation in our world tonight.
We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust.
We bring ourselves to God, that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection. For our country, our community of Land’s End churches, that the Christians here may be witnesses to truth and creators of unity, Lord, we pray.
Bless and heal us, Christ Jesus; in you alone our hearts find rest and peace.
Words of introduction to the peace are used concluding with:
The peace of the Lord be always with you
And also with you.
A prayer is said over the bread and wine
Blessed be God, by whose grace creation is renewed,
by whose love heaven is opened,
by whose mercy we offer our sacrifice of praise.
Blessed be God for ever.
The Eucharistic Prayer
The Lord is here His Spirit is with us.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.
It is always right to give you thanks, God our Creator, loving and faithful, holy and strong. You made us and the whole universe, and filled your world with life.
You sent your Son to live among us, Jesus our Saviour, Mary’s child. He suffered on the cross; he died to save us from our sins;
he rose in glory from the dead.
You send your Spirit to bring new life to the world and clothe us with power from on high. And so we join the angels to celebrate and say:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Father, on the night before he died, Jesus shared a meal with his friends. He took the bread, and thanked you. He broke it, and gave it to them, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this to remember me.
After the meal, Jesus took the cup of wine. He thanked you, and gave it to them, saying: Drink this, all of you. This is my blood, the new promise of God’s unfailing love. Do this to remember me.
Great is the mystery of faith
Jesus Christ has died. Jesus Christ is risen.
Jesus Christ will come again.
Father, as we bring this bread and wine, and remember his death and resurrection, send your Holy Spirit, that we who share these gifts may be fed by Christ’s body and his blood.
Pour your Spirit on us that we may love one another, work for the healing of the earth, and share the good news of Jesus, as we wait for his coming in glory. For honour and praise belong to you, Father, with Jesus your Son, and the Holy Spirit: one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Breaking of the Bread
We break the bread of life, and that life is the light of the world.
God here among us, light in the midst of us,
bring us to light and life.
Giving of Communion
Christ is the true bread which has come down from heaven.
Lord, give us this bread always.
St. Alphonsus Liguori in the 18th century:
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
The priest receives the bread and wine on behalf of the community
Prayer of Blessing
God of rainfall and sunshine and the ripening grain,
God of fleeing hares and harvest mice, of pollinating bees and hedgerow flowers, and of labouring teams at work all day; bless the fields and bless the grain, bless this bread and all who eat it.
Let none we know go hungry today, and may all be welcome here at our table.
So break open our hearts with broken bread
and may the harvest to come bring gladness to all.
We bless you, God of Seed and Harvest and we bless each other
That the beauty of this world and the love that created it
Might be expressed though our lives and be a blessing to others
Now and always. Amen.
Do I not fill heaven and earth, says God?
so may we search and find the sacredness of the earth.
Do I not fill heaven and earth, says God?
so help us to love God through loving the earth.
Do I not fill heaven and earth, says God?
So may we take no more than we need, and return what we can;
may we work for healing, not harm, for regeneration, for re-greening;
may we cherish the earth
May God bless the sun that is above us, the earth that is below us
The creatures all around us and lead us into all peace
In the name of the Holy Three, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen
Tend the earth, care for God’s good creation,
and bring forth the fruits of righteousness.
Thanks be to God.
Annie Heppenstall’s book of Uncommon Prayer