Rector's October 2013 Letter

Holidays and Holy Days – and a Harvest Challenge

Writing this in mid September, it is already clear that our wonderful summer is bowing out and giving way to autumn.  Perhaps because my birthday is in October, that has always been one of my favourite seasons.  The Church year too is moving from the long ‘summer’ season and the next few months are marked by tradition in various special ways.  It is a reminder of a time when ‘Holidays’ were the ‘Holy Days’ when work stopped for the celebration of one of the feasts of the Church calendar.  On written calendars, these days were marked in red, giving rise to the phrase ‘red letter days’ to mean a day of special celebration.

Over the next few months, we will celebrate first Harvest, then Remembrance, then All Saints and All Souls, when we remember those who have gone before us, and then begin the new cycle of the church year with Advent, leading up to Christmas.  The fact that our lives are still shaped by these festivals says something about our everyday and spiritual lives work together.  A day, in itself, has no special importance; but it is deep within our nature to form a structure of memories and associations around our daily lives; some personal, like the date of a birth or the death of a loved one, and some of wider importance.  The Church year weaves into all that, with its cycle of celebration and repentance, joy, death and resurrection that the Christian story evokes.  It acts as a reminder not to forget to say ‘thank you’, or ‘sorry’; not to allow ourselves to be bowled over by the adversity that comes into our lives, but to look always for the light of new hope at the end of even the darkest tunnel.

‘Thank you’ is the theme of our various Harvest celebrations, with each local church coming together to give thanks for the gifts God has given us, and for the hard work which has brought to it to fruition at the hands of those who farm the land.  That cycle of work something we are very aware of here in our villages as we see the work going on around us, and we give back part of what we have received to help those in need.

Local farms not only grow our food these days; many of them have also expanded their farm shops to sell their own and other produce direct to the public, and just in this group of villages, as well as our treasured village shops and post offices, we are also fortunate enough to have farm-based shopping that covers an enormous variety of needs and also provides employment for local people.  Harvest season can be a reminder of how much we appreciate these enterprises in our midst, and how much we would miss them if they struggled or failed for lack of our custom.  The prices in supermarkets may sometimes be lower, but not only is the quality so much better locally, but also any extra cost  is often offset by the ways the big stores deliberately tempt us to buy more than we intend.  So, as a Harvest Challenge in October I am challenging myself to shop only locally wherever possible, instead of going for the lazy option.

Our Social Evening in September was a really enjoyable and thought-provoking evening, with a wonderful turn-out and an excellent speaker to listen to.  It has really inspired us to think of new ways that we can work together, and also to breathe new life into some existing initiatives.  And it will not be long before we organise another opportunity for all the villages to get together and have their say.

Have a very fruitful Harvest, and I look forward to seeing as many as possible at our various Harvest lunches and suppers.

Rev’d Karen Spray                           01392 877400                     church@revdkaren.org.uk


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