A Harvest You Can Count On
by Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To retell the parable of the sower to celebrate generosity.
Preparation and materials
- You will need some grains and a few stems of wheat (pet shops, healthfood shops and florists can be good sources of these), one small and ten large potatoes, a dozen or so pods of peas or runner beans with a few of their seeds, plus a large marrow or pumpkin (the last item is optional).
- Familiarize yourself with the parable told in the ‘Assembly’, Step 1, rehearsing the actions indicated to accompany it or helping some children to mime it while it is being told. Note that the phrase and finger action ‘30 times, 60 times, 100 times’ is to be a catchphrase for everyone during this assembly.
- Show the children the grains of wheat and invite them to listen to a story Jesus told about generosity – explaining that ‘generosity’ means ‘giving freely’.
The parable of the sower
Once there was a man who went into his field to sow seeds. He flung out his arms, letting the seeds run through his fingers. (Sowing action.)
Some seeds fell along the path. (Flat hand movements.) The birds came and ate them up. (Link thumbs and flap fingers.)
Some seeds fell on to rocky soil. The plants began to grow. (Raise arms and form branches and leaves with hands and stay in this position.) Sadly, the rocky soil stopped the roots from finding water. When the sun grew hot, the plants quickly withered away. (Hands tremble and arms droop to sides.)
Some seeds fell among thorns (go to touch and recoil as if touching something spiky), which grew up and choked the plants.
Some seeds fell on to good soil, where they grew well. (Lift hands and arms up, as if growing.)
They produced a good harvest – 30 times, 60 times, 100 times. (Triumphantly display three, six and ten fingers.)
You may wish to repeat the story, inviting everyone to join in the actions. Then show the children the stems of wheat and invite them to consider what ‘30 times, 60 times, 100 times’ means. It’s a way of saying that one tiny seed can produce a harvest of many grains.
Observe that the story also describes how the sower was generous. Heworked very hard and sowed lots of seeds, even though he knew some would be wasted.
Note how generosity brings a harvest we can count on (say it all together and do the actions) 30 times, 60 times, 100 times!
- Describe how this can be true of our own experiences of growing vegetables. One small potato (show small potato) is put into the ground and, later in the year, ten or more can be lifted from underneath the plant. (Count the large potatoes together, one by one.)
In the meantime, they must be kept weeded and watered. This requires patience and can be hard work, but the time and generosity we give the seeds brings a harvest you can count on (say it all together and do the actions) 30 times, 60 times, 100 times!
Reflect how a seed pea or bean grows to produce many pods. (Show the pods and count them together one by one.) Open a mature pod to find the peas or beans inside. How many are there?
Lots of compost must be dug into the soil to grow these crops. They, too, must be watered. It’s hard work, but the time and generosity given brings a harvest you can count on (say it all together and do the actions) 30 times, 60 times, 100 times!
Produce the large marrow or pumpkin (if using) and say, ‘There’s generosity!’ (Then say it all together and do the actions) 30 times, 60 times, 100 times!
- Reflect that, at harvest time, we celebrate the generosity of nature. We also focus on the hard work and generosity of those who grow our crops. So, we must say, ‘Thank you’ for a harvest we can count on (say it all together and do the actions) 30 times, 60 times, 100 times!
Time for reflection
Thank you for seeds that yield a harvest
30 times, 60 times, 100 times!
We remember those whose hard work helps the harvest to grow.
May we say ‘Thank you’, not just once, but
30 times, 60 times, 100 times!
‘Harvest song’ (Songs for Every Season, Out of the Ark Music, 1997)
‘For the harvest’ (S!ng Harvest,Out of the Ark Music, 2012)
'We plough the fields and scatter’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 801, 2000 edition)