8: August ~ Blessing of First Fruits

From early times, “first fruits” were something special. They were the first taste of a new season’s produce with a promise of more variety and quantity to come. They were the end of a fast from fresh food and from a dwindling amount of last year’s harvest. So “first fruits” were seen as sacred. The best portion was offered as a thanksgiving to the Creator, then shared with those most in need and with each other as a blessing from God.

As preparation for this blessing, each person should bring the “first harvest/first fruits” of his or her labors, the first fruits of this growing season. Then all gather around for the blessing rite.

 

Opening Prayer

Let us pray: Creator and ruler of the universe, we are here united under Your guidance. Help us to listen to You attentively before we offer You the first fruits of our labor in Your garden. Help us to know Your ways. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Song of Praise: Psalm 67 (Petition for a Bountiful Harvest)

Response: Let the people praise you, O God; let us all praise you.

 

May God be gracious to us and bless us;

may his face shine upon us.

So shall your way be known upon the earth,

your victory among all the nations.

Response: Let the people praise you, O God; let us all praise you.

 

May the people praise you, God;

may all the peoples praise you!

May the nations be glad and rejoice;

for you judge the peoples with fairness,

you guide the nations upon the earth.

Response: Let the people praise you, O God; let us all praise you.

 

The earth has yielded its harvest;

God, our God, blesses us.

May God bless us still;

that the ends of the earth may revere our God.

Response: Let the people praise you, O God; let us all praise you.

 

Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (Thanksgiving for the Harvest)

When you have come into the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage, and have taken possession and settled in it, you shall take some first fruits of the various products of the soil which you harvest from the land the Lord, your God, is giving you; put them in a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose as the dwelling place for his name.

There you shall go to the priest in office at that time and say to him, “Today I acknowledge to the Lord, my God, that I have indeed come into the land which the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” The priest shall then take the basket from your hands and set it in front of the altar of the Lord, your God.

Then you shall declare in the presence of the Lord, your God: “My father was a refugee Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as a resident alien. But there he became a nation great, strong and numerous. When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing harsh servitude upon us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression.

Then the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders, and brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Now, therefore, I have brought the first fruits of the products of the soil which you, Lord, have given me.”

You shall set them before the Lord, your God, and you shall bow down before the Lord, your God. Then you and your household, together with the Levite and the resident aliens who live among you, shall celebrate with all these good things which the Lord, your God, has given you.

 

Quiet Reflection, or people may share their thoughts.

 

Closing Blessing

(All extend their hands in prayer, with palms opened to the Lord.)

O Bountiful Giver of gifts, you provide what we need for abundant living. You give us the strength of our bodies so we can work in your vineyard, providing for ourselves and those you have placed in our care.

We offer you thanks for these gifts, the first and best of what we have, so we will never forget their origin. May they nourish us and others. Make all who see and partake of them marvel at their beauty and usefulness.

Make us always mindful of your rhythmic symphony of life. Our work has not been without difficulties, but we rejoice that trouble of every kind has been overcome with your help.

Come, Lord of first fruits, Lord of rejoicing. Join in our celebration as we taste the joy of your immeasurable love. We pray to you, who have given us these fruits of the land. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.