Saturday Reflection

3rd October 2020

'when you gather in your crops ...'

"Celebrate the Festival of Harvest
  with the first fruits of the crops
  you sow in your field.
  Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering
  at the end of the year,
  when you gather in
  your crops from the field."

Exodus 23:16

This is the time of year
when the Church celebrates Harvest.
We recognise,
and give thanks for God's provision.

When we think of the old major
Christian celebrations
we think of Christmas,
Easter and Harvest festival.

Harvest festivals originated
from the Pagan festival of Lammas;
when the British Isles converted
to Christianity many pagan
festivals were adapted
and incorporated into Christian worship.

But Harvest Festival
as we know it today,
has quite modern origins.
Rev Robert Hawker,
living in Morwenstow, Cornwall,
was a Victorian clergyman;
he was quite a character,
(there's still plenty of characters
in the church even today!)
He was even more zany than most!!

At one time he invited his 12 cats into church
for services, and kept a pet pig!
In Sept 1843 he was driving
back into village in his pony and trap
when he saw celebrations
going on in the middle of the village green;
all the villagers were gathered,
drinking, singing, dancing.
When he asked what was it was all
about he was told that it was
Lammas celebrations,
they were celebrating the good harvest.

As he drove home,
he thought about what he had seen;
surely God should be thanked
for providing the sun and rain
thus insuring a plentiful harvest.

He had a idea and invited people to church
on the 'first Sunday next month
to partake in share of bread of harvest'.
People crowded into church
not knowing what it was all about.
Amazed, they found the church filled
with fruit, flowers, veg.;
there were hymns, prayers,
Bible readings,
all centred around God's love
and bountiful generosity,
with food afterwards.

Thus the first modern harvest
thanksgiving took place -
and it was a great success.

Rev. Hawker had hit on a great gimmick
to fill his church.
Clergy were always trying to find ways
of filling their churches in those days -
don't let grandma tell you different!.

Some gimmicks fail,
some fill short term needs,
this one caught on.

Other villages around
heard about it and followed -
within 20years it was country wide
and we've been
'Ploughing the fields and scattering.'
ever since.

Many town people wonder what the fuss is about.

Many children today
don't know where their food comes from.
Milk comes in cartons,
meat in cling wrapped packages,
all from the supermarkets -
it's taken for granted!

Rural areas are very aware
of importance of harvest,
if the harvest fails
farmers don't get their
new piece of equipment
or tractor
and food prices rise in shops.

Harvest isn't just for farming communities.
When I was living by the coast,
we had our services close to the sea.
I can remember one service
held at Folkestone harbour
with a Salvation Army band
and sea gulls accompaniment;
and another on a windy cliff top in Cornwall -
with no band, so singing acapella,
and the minister trying hard
to be heard above surf below
and the gulls above.

With more intensive fishing
and fishermen struggling
to make a living,
these annual gatherings were very important.
Bad weather,
reducing stocks of fish
produce a poor harvest of the sea.

When we think of harvest
our minds immediately go to farming
and fishing but
there is also a harvest of the earth.

Mining and industrial areas
also acknowledge a harvest of the earth.
I went to one service
where they brought, to the altar, pieces of machinery
followed by 2 little children.
For whom they also thanked God.

Life is about people working with God,
to provide their needs.
   We plough the fields ...
   He feeds and waters -
sending the sun and the rain.

We mine the earth
and unearth the elements
buried deep below, that are needed
to enhance our lives.

Yes, God is good,
he is the great provider
and we must acknowledge
and thank him for all his gifts to us.