An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To look at harvest from a different angle – the ‘fruitfulness’ of humankind.
Preparation and materials
- Note that this assembly has its roots in the Christian celebration of harvest, where the focus is on thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth as God's gifts for all humanity, but develops a wider understanding of ‘fruitfulness’. That is, it looks at how our own human gifts are 'harvested' and reflects on how we can best use and share them.
- It would be most appropriate for a class or tutor group, but could easily be adapted suit larger numbers by choosing students to represent their year or class group in the activity in the ‘Assembly’, near the end.
- You will need a leader and at least one reader to read your chosen passage from Psalm 104 (for example, verses 5 to 34 or a shorter extract of verses 10 to 18), but it can be very effective to either divide the text into sections, each to be read by different readers placed in different locations around the room, or for it to be read antiphonally, with single students or groups of students reading alternate verses.
- You will also need a table, positioned centrally, with a bowl of fruit on it and a Bible, open at Psalm 104, plus a second bowl or basket, pieces of paper and pens (either one for each student or for a representative from each group).
- Have available ‘For the beauty of the Earth’, set by John Rutter and recorded by the boys of St Paul's Cathedral Choir on their album How Can I Keep from Singing? (Classics for Pleasure, 1996), and the means to play it during the assembly.
- If appropriate, after the assembly, the students may wish to make a display of their harvest of talents.
Leader There is a well-known poem by John Keats, To Autumn, that begins 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness . . .'. In this part of the Western world, it conjures up images of seasonal change and the traditional Christian celebration of harvest, which marks the gathering in of crops before the arrival of winter. Communities around the world and of many different faiths also celebrate a good harvest. It is a time of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth and an opportunity to share in its bounty.
For Christians and Jews, Psalm 104 is a reminder of exactly this fruitfulness of the Earth and gives thanks for God's gifts in creation.
Reader or readers Reads chosen extract from Psalm 104.
Leader Christian harvest festivals are often a colourful sight, with churches beautifully decorated with fruits, flowers and many different symbols representing the richness of the Earth's harvest. These symbols also represent what we often describe as the ‘fruits of our labours’ – women and men working with and using the Earth's gifts to provide for all our needs.
Sometimes our work can bear different kinds of fruit from the fruit you can see in this bowl. Each one of us has gifts that are not objects but skills and talents that we can use to help others.
Christians believe that God gives everybody gifts that can be shared and help to make the world a better place. Some of us are good at making things or mending things, some of us can paint or draw or sing, some are good with computers, some of us can make other people laugh!
Think about something you can do – a gift that you can share with others – and write it down on your slip of paper while the music is playing, then come and place your gift in the basket and we will harvest all our gifts and talents.
Play music and ensure that the students or representatives come and place their slips of paper in the second basket or bowl.
Time for reflection
Let us say the following prayer, which is attributed to Francis of Assisi (optional).
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is sadness, joy;
For your mercy's sake.
‘For the beauty of the Earth’, set by John Rutter and recorded by the boys of St Paul's Cathedral Choir