Friday, 1 October 2010

October Newsletter

All good gifts

The Schools have returned. The roads are much less busy. The days are shortening. The light is fading fast. The nights are noticeably cooler. The leaf fall is all around us. A last burst of warm sun, and the Indian Summer finally fades. Old routines are being revisited, new routines picked up and begun. New interests are taken up. A change of gear and a change of Season is upon us.
We mark this new season, this movement into Autumn, with a Celebration of ‘Life, and Health and Food’, of Creation, and of ‘all good gifts around us’. It is time for the Harvest Thanksgiving Season and, at Harvest, we come to God to thank Him for all his great provision for us, all the food we farm and ‘safely gather in’.
Our focus this Harvest-time is ‘Jesus, the Bread of Life’ (John 6:25-35). After Jesus has provided for his listeners on the hillside at the feeding of the five thousand (harking back to God’s provision of the Israelites with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16) and pointing forward to the heavenly banquet in the Kingdom to come) Jesus then goes onto say that ‘we cannot live by bread alone’.
As we come to our Harvest Thanksgivings this year we might expand our thoughts to include not just carrots and cauliflowers but all of God’s provision that sustains us. We think of our homes and shelter, our clothes and fuel, our hobbies and employment. But it is not just food and practical things that can sustain us. Things perish. Food can go rotten and stale - as I’ve often found to my cost if I have left Harvest produce unsorted for too long in Church! - However, I always think we had one satisfied customer in the Church mouse who I think relishes this Season of Harvest feasting most of all!
Jesus says there is ‘more to life than food’. Other things sustain us: things like the nurture and love of our friends and family. ‘The bread of life’ also means living in God, living in Jesus, the true ‘bread of life’ can also sustain us and prepare us to live in the light of eternity. Jesus advises us ‘not to work for things that go bad, but for things that last for eternal life’. He says: ‘Those who come to me shall never go hungry. Those who believe in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:35).
This Harvest Festival (as the Autumnal light gradually reduces our horizons and as we prepare to hunker down for the Winter ahead) may we also expand our horizons and our thinking to include the many things we can praise God for and his great provision for us in so many ways: certainly to thank Him for our food, but also for so many gifts around us: As Chisholm writes in his famous hymn:
‘Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand has provided.
Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.’

Happy Harvest Feasting and festivity,
Revd Nigel Marns
Team Rector