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A Bad Harvest

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To reflect upon the consequences of the harvest not being safely gathered in.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a selection of food such as a loaf of bread and some fruit.

  • You will need a leader and five readers for the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly. You may wish to position the readers at strategic places around the room so that their voices come from different places.

  • Optional: you may wish to research any current situations where bad weather or disease has caused the harvest to fail.

Assembly

  1. Point out that autumn is traditionally a time for celebrating harvest. It is a time for thanking God for the food that we enjoy, but also for remembering the farmers who grow or care for the food that we eat.

  2. Traditionally, harvest is a time for celebration, but this is not always the case. There are times when unavoidable situations such as bad weather or diseases such as foot-and-mouth can have catastrophic consequences for farmers. If they have no harvest, their livelihoods can be destroyed.

  3. Sadly, we often see terrible images of famine and malnutrition in different parts of the world. What we forget - or dont know - is that, until relatively recently, there were often famines in Europe. In France, for example, just over 100 years ago, people were still sometimes dying of hunger in some rural areas.

  4. Today, many of us live in cities or large towns, so we live quite a distance from the sources of our food. We may rarely see it being produced and may not even know how it is produced. We are protected from natural disasters, such as a failed harvest. When things go wrong, we hardly notice. We give little thought to the farmers and those working in the country and elsewhere for whom extreme weather or diseases can be a disaster.

Time for reflection

Leader: When Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, he taught them to say the words, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ By doing this, Jesus reminded the disciples that all gifts come from God and that we should not take our food for granted.

Explain that some children are going to read out loud some words about harvest. After each statement, you would like everyone to join in with the words, Give us this day our daily bread.’

Reader 1: Farmers spend their lives growing the wheat to make our bread. Months ahead, the fields are ploughed and the seeds are sown. In the summer, with an eye to the weather, the wheat is harvested, involving long hours of labour and dust. If the wheat has been scorched by the sun or flattened by the rain and wind, that labour has been in vain. What does this mean for the farmer?

All: Give us this day our daily bread.

Reader 2: The wheat is sold to the mills to be ground. If there is not much grain, the mills cannot make a profit. What does this mean for the farmer?

All: Give us this day our daily bread.

Reader 3: The mills send the flour to the baker. If there is not enough flour, the baker cannot bake enough bread, so flour will have to be found elsewhere. What does this mean for the farmer?

All: Give us this day our daily bread.

Reader 4: The supermarkets sell bread. People in the cities or towns buy it, together with all the other things they need. They are unaware of any shortage because the supermarkets just buy from other suppliers. What does this mean for the farmer?

All: Give us this day our daily bread.

Reader 5: Whether we live in town or in the country, our lives are interlinked. When we eat bread today and every other day, may we be aware of:

- how the bread has been produced and who has produced it
- the effects of natural disasters on our food supply
- the effects on those who suffer from famine in other lands or from distress here because there is not enough to eat

We can only have enough because many people work hard to supply what we need.

All: Give us this day our daily bread.

Leader: Give us this day our daily bread and the awareness to appreciate it. Amen.

Publication date: September 2017   (Vol.19 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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