Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
As I write this, we’re moving into Autumn, and the leaves on the lime trees in the churchyard here in Heyford are just beginning to change colour. At the same time, countless lime seeds are drifting into the Rectory like tiny little helicopters, the shape of the leaf and stalk cleverly designed to carry the seeds some distance away from the tree. Thousands of these seeds litter the Rectory drive, which is a bit of a nuisance in one way, and yet in another way, it’s a seasonal reminder of God’s reckless generosity.
This is the time of year when we celebrate the harvest across the churches and
primary schools in the benefice, giving thanks to God for his abundance. There’s a danger that we lose sight of the importance of the harvest in this day and age, when food can be sourced from all over the world and found on our supermarket shelves. In ancient times however, the abundance of the harvest – or the lack of abundance – could mean the difference between life and death, between having enough to eat and starvation. Little wonder that people worshipped God, and gave thanks for good, plentiful harvests.
We see ancient Israel’s attitude to the fruitfulness and abundance of the earth
throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms, many of which praise
God for his goodness. Harvest metaphors are common in the Bible, and often
feature in Jesus’ parables and stories. There are a couple of ideas that emerge from the Bible’s teaching on harvest. First, we’re to recognise that all the good things around us – our food and drink, flowers, trees and the amazing abundance of creation – are gifts we can value and enjoy. Secondly, all this created goodness is not ours to hoard or use selfishly. So in the churches, our collected harvest donations go to help local food banks and homeless shelters, to help overcome the surprising and depressing need to satisfy poverty and hunger here in the UK. As we celebrate God’s generosity, I pray that we might all take the opportunity to be generous in turn, sharing what we have, and helping those in need.
Yours in Christ,
Stephen – 01327 344436