Harvest – Saying Thank You for Food

Throughout September, churches in our benefice will all be having their Harvest Festival services.   At these services you are encouraged to bring food donations or toiletries to give to our local food banks.

Often there’ll be hymns and songs that say ‘thank you’ to God for all that he provides, every day.

These are some simple ways to say ‘thank you’ to God at home too:-

Say a ‘thank you’ prayer

A line in the Lord’s Prayer asks God to ‘Give us this day our daily bread’.  When we say that line, we’re asking God to provide the basic things in life that keep us healthy and happy. It can start with the food we need to eat each day, but for lots of different reasons, not everyone has enough.

So saying thank you for our food is important – we might thank the person who cooked it, and we might go back further and think of the people in the shops where we bought the ingredients, and even trace it right back to the farmers who grew the crops in the first place.

For children who are old enough, trying talking about this together one meal time, taking each item on the plate and thinking about where it came from and all the people and work that has gone into bringing it to your table.

Saying grace before a meal is a way of saying thank you to God for making the earth
and everything in it – all good things come from God, and it’s up to us to use them in
the very best and most generous way.

Try singing this grace:
One, two, three, four, five, thank you God that I’m alive.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, thank you God for food. Amen!

One of the most traditional graces goes like this:
“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful
and keep us always mindful of the needs of others.”

Some families hold hands while they say grace – this reminds us that we are thankful not only for our food, but that we can share it with people we love, as in this prayer:
“Thank you God for food, and family, and friends. Amen.
“Thank you God for food, and family, and friends,
we remember those who have no food today,
and those who have food, but nobody to share it,
As you have blessed us, help us be a blessing for others. Amen.

Decorate a ‘grace’ table mat:

Take a piece of A4 paper, and in the middle draw round a medium sized plate to make a circle, then in that circle draw round a smaller plate. You should have something that looks a little bit like a plate. Then draw a fork outline on the left, and a knife outline on the right, and a spoon above – don’t worry about the quality of the artwork!

Now, have some fun decorating your plate with pictures of their favourite food – you can draw pictures yourself, or cut them out of magazines, or use pictures from food packets – and you can even label them if your child is old enough to start learning to read.

Somewhere on your paper, perhaps at the top or in a corner, write ‘Thank you God’ in big letters and colour it in – this is your thank-you place mat, a reminder of all the good things that God gives us.

Once you’ve finished decorating, you can either laminate your artwork, or slip it into one of those plastic folders and seal up the end with sticky tape.

Use your place mat at family meal times as a reminder of your thankfulness for all God’s blessings, and particularly for food.

This is such a fun activity, that you can create a new one every so often, with updated favourite foods, and perhaps even write a little ‘grace’ prayer of your own to go on it? Or simply include one of the prayers on this page.

Make food fun!
If your child is a bit of a fussy eater, you could try making their food more fun. Maybe arrange the veggies in the shape of a smiley face?

Harvest Festivals and Celebrations

Harvest Wheat


In the benefice our Harvest Festivals and events take place this year as follows:

Sunday 18th September
11am – Stoke by Nayland Church – Harvest Festival
12.15pm – Stoke by Nayland Village Hall – Harvest Lunch
(a suggested donation of £5 would be appreciated – please sign up at the Village Shop or at the back of the Church)

Friday 23rd September
7pm – Nayland Village Hall – Harvest Supper

Sunday 25th September
10.30am – Stoke by Nayland Church – Celebration of Creation with Blessing of Pets and Animals

Sunday 2nd October
10am – Leavenheath Village Hall – First Sunday Harvest
5.30pm – Wissington Church – Harvest Evensong

Friday 7th October
7pm – Polstead  Church – Harvest Festival followed by Harvest Supper in Village Hall

Sunday 9th October 
9.30am – Nayland Church – Harvest Cafe Church

Why do we celebrate Harvest?

The Jewish and Christian Scriptures give eloquent expression to the creative power and wisdom of God.   It is therefore a natural instinct for worshiping communities to develop patterns of worship and prayer around the agricultural year.

Ancient Jewish communities lived close to the land, and it is no surprise that the ancient Jewish festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread, Weeks and Tabernacles all have agrarian roots.  Christianity assimilated, but placed a differing emphases on these agricultural festivals with much of this is bound up with the need to provide food to sustain human life, and the accompanying sense of a proper humility before God as source of all things, gratitude for his goodness, and responsibility in stewarding the resources of the earth.

The Harvest Thanksgiving (or Festival) is a more modern addition to the church calendar. Its origins are usually traced to the adaptation in 1843 of Lammas Day by the Revd R. S. Hawker, a parish priest in Cornwall. He chose the first Sunday in October as a Christian response to coincide with the traditional but largely secular ‘harvest home’ celebration, but there is some evidence to suggest that a thanksgiving for the harvest was already a relatively widespread practice. An annual church celebration of the harvest certainly established itself rapidly with great popularity and was first recognized officially in the Church of England in 1862. Since then, many local traditions for the celebration have developed but all include an Act of Thanksgiving, which may accompany the tradition of bringing to church gifts of fresh produce and other foodstuffs.