The sun is shining but the air is definitely cooler. The once parched grass is rapidly turning green once more.
Trees are turning golden brown, looking ever richer in the late morning sun. Beauty is all around us. Autumn is definitely here and with it the season for Harvest celebration. Every year we come together to give thanks; thanks for God’s gifts and thanks for all those whose work in farming and supporting industries enables us to enjoy our daily bread.
As I move from parish to parish I am treated to a wide range of celebrations; choral evensong, flower festival, school presentations and more. Each uniquely reflects something of the community concerned; each reflects the gifts of those who contribute. This is as it should be. Yet for all our differences, there is also much that is common. The very purpose of our Harvest Festivals is to acknowledge that All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above. This is why we come together to thank the Lord. We recognise, too, that there is much more to gratitude than simple words. In the just reward of labour, in the help we give our neighbour, God’s will is done.
At the moment it can seem as if we are living in permanent turmoil: pandemic, climate change, cost of living; the list is endless. Look back to our harvest reading from the book of Deuteronomy (26: 1-11) and we are reminded of times past when God’s people faced famine, slavery, exile – and God sustained them. The key, as the writer to the Hebrews (Heb 11) shows, is faith. When God’s people trust him and follow him, he cares for them. Times may be challenging, painful, a struggle; but eternal rest awaits us. Meanwhile, as the unduly hot, dry summer fades, the autumn sun picks out glorious shades of gold in the hedgerows and trees around us. We are surrounded by many good gifts – so let us thank the Lord.
Rev’d Philip Payne
The Notice Sheet for 16th October can be found here