Saturday 9 December 2023


Vincent Van Gogh. Wheatfields after the rain. Auvers-sur-Oise, July 1890. Carnegie Museum of Art , Pittsburg.
"He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous." (Isaiah 30.23)

Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. (Matt. 9.38)

Isaiah 30:19-26

Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images. You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, ‘Away with you!’

He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. On that day your cattle will graze in broad pastures; and the oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat silage, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

Psalm 147.1-6

1 O praise the Lord, for it is good to sing praises to our God:
   and to praise him is joyful and right.
2 The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem:
   he is gathering together the scattered outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the broken in spirit:
   and binds up their wounds.
4 He counts the number of the stars:
   and calls them all by name.
5 Great is our Lord, and great is his power:
   there is no measuring his understanding.
6 The Lord restores the humble:
   but he brings down the wicked to the dust.

Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5-8

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few;therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.

'Advent', from Growth, by Charles R. Murphy.

Out of as silence greater than all words;
Over the unspeakable, dumb,
Everlasting hill
With their muter herds;
Swifter than a blade that kills;
Mightier than prayer;
Fairer than the dawn
When some dew yet remains unbroken;
Stronger than despair;
From the unspoken to the spoken,
While the heart rests momently;
Lovely as the half-uttered words of a child,
More delicate more mild;
Terrible as the torn breast of and anguish
When strong wills languish:
Suddenly, dreadfully, exquisitely
Love, death and God shall come.
Poetry 15, no. 5, August 1921, pp. 235-6.

O God, our light and our salvation, illuminate our lives, that we may see your goodness in the land of the living, and, looking on your beauty, may be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Three versions of parts of Psalm 147.

From The Scottish Psalter 1650, sung by Jason Coghill to the tune Thanksgiving.

Anglican chant; Choir of Westminster Abbey, cond: Martin Neary, 1995.

Ps 147. Lof zij de Heer, goed is het leven. Kerkdienst Gereformeerde kerk, Winschoten, Netherlands. Dennis Wubs, organist.