Vicar's Monthly Letter
Associate Priest's Letter - October
I am writing this from a very privileged position of being surrounded by fields and fields of sunflowers, almost ready to be harvested, yet I am acutely aware that writing about harvest this year is so different from previous Octobers. It has made me think very carefully about what we have all experienced as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Many of us have had to dramatically alter our lifestyles and expectations as a result of this ongoing global crisis; on a local level our farmers and growers have continued about their business and hopefully they will be rewarded with a plentiful harvest. Those not involved in agriculture may have reaped a personal harvest in picking of vegetables from gardens or allotments. This produce offers very tangible evidence of harvest; from tiny seeds new crops appear; from our hard work we reap our own rewards.
However there are other harvests which are much less tangible but offer an equally important result. We can think of the considerable work of medical staff in our hospitals and surgeries as a type of harvest, a harvesting of caring and healing. Other key staff be they postal workers, telecommunications engineers, road hauliers, refuse collectors, emergency workers, retailers (the list is endless), all of them in their own way offer a harvest. Harvesting is a means of gathering in, of collecting together what can sustain us in the months to come. Living in a rural community we naturally think of farmers but we all in our own way offer something to a global harvest or gathering in. Let us celebrate and appreciate this joint contribution by giving thanks.
The list of harvest services can be found in this magazine and although these services will be slightly different this year, they all have the common theme of being grateful for what we have received, what has been grown, what has been achieved, what has been done. Harvest is a very good time to take stock of our lives, to count our blessings and to consider what more we might achieve. But it seems to me that God is right in the midst of all this activity and therefore it seems all the more appropriate to give thanks, despite the anxiety and, at times, heartbreak of the pandemic; simply saying thank you for what we have been given from others and from God.
However, if you are suffering, out of work or anxious about the events happening around us, the idea of giving thanks may not seem very relevant. Yet all of us have something to be thankful for, be it the comfort of friends or family, the help offered by others, or even just the fact that we live in such a beautiful part of the world. I am deeply aware of the uncertainty and hardship that this pandemic has brought but I am also impressed in how it has brought out the very best in many people. Let us look at the example of those who have given so much during these dark times and be thankful to them. That would seem to me to be the very embodiment of a harvest celebration.
We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest, our life, our health, and food;
Accept the gifts we offer, for all Thy love imparts,
But what Thou most desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.