I am writing for this month’s magazine still surrounded by the tail end of the packing boxes as the six-month period from my appointment to my licensing has passed. Nicky my wife and our two Beagles Patch and Bessie have moved into the Rectory. Many thanks to all those who helped to make the house look so nice and especially thanks to Gary Hepburn and family for making sure we had breakfast for the morning after we arrived from an exhausting day moving from Derby to Wyke.
Many thanks as well to all who contributed and participated in my licensing and helped to make the event such a special time. I am deeply conscious that your kind welcome to the Parish comes with services of many unsung heroes. Thank you to all who have contributed to make it hopefully a key time in our community.
Sunday 6th of October is our Harvest Festival a special feast that I think needs to come back into vogue in our modern world that has got detached from its seasons where a global economy makes us have a constant food supply. This globalisation of our food comes at a huge cost to the Climate. Winter strawberries come with carbon emissions as they have to be flown to the UK. In fact, how and what we eat can have a huge impact on Climate Change as well as our health.
The Bible has a huge amount to say on the subject of Harvest. One passage tucked away in the Old Testament is given to the people of Israel on how as refugees to live well in the new land they were moving to.
When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. 20 When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.
When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 22 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore, I am commanding you to do this. Deuteronomy 24 19 -24 NRSV
Some simple lessons from scripture on how to live well that are truly applicable to us today, especially in the midst of a climate catastrophe.
Don’t be greedy. Be happy to just use what you need. I am sure we are all looking forward to Christmas where we love to give gifts to one another, however I often remark to myself how much of this do I need. Having just moved home I was deeply conscious on how much landfill I was creating by throwing away things that I had basically no further use of. There is an ecological cost to greed. One we all pay for.
Share, the book of Acts Chapter 20 verse 35 quotes Jesus as saying it is better to give than to receive. Sharing food, hospitality and welcome is central to being Christian. A key part of every church Eucharist especially Harvest Festival is the Offertory where we bring forth from among us the gifts of Bread, Wine, our financial giving and food we wish to donate to the poor at Harvest and in fact at every service. These gifts are then offered to God and distributed by Parish officers to help the poor, the marginalised and any who are in need. The practice of Harvest is not just for October but really for all of life that we share what we have with those who don’t. This Harvest we will be supporting local foodbanks ensuring that those without who are affected by Austerity measures get the help they need.
Preserve the planet. Not farming intensively is critical to looking after God’s earth. What we observe happening in the Amazon at present is catastrophic for God’s creation and I wonder if we need to bring back the old-fashioned word “Sin” to talk about abuse of the Climate and the ecology of those who share this planet with us. Harvest festival speaks to all of these things and I will be talking to the children in All Saints School about what they can do to help care for God’s world.
Lastly welcoming the stranger. On our first night here my wife and I sneaked to the Wyke Smugglers for a pint and some excellent fish pie. No sooner had we sat down and I had taken my first swig of very good local ale than someone said to me, are you the new Vicar? Busted I thought and I had purposely left my dog collar off. They then chatted to us as we ate, and I was given a really warm welcome. I have been so touched by the warm welcome I have received here in Wyke.
Without mentioning the “B” word we are in a time of Crisis as a nation where it would appear, we are desiring to isolate rather than to embrace one another. Even in my own family strongly held views are held on this topic and we are having to find ways of talking well, kindly, and learning to listen rather than to exclude and insult. I would encourage us all to find ways to welcome and hold together during this difficult time in our nation. Perhaps the principles of the Bible of dialogue and forgiveness, truth telling, and gentleness will be key in the months ahead as the nation seeks to find the way ahead. …
Finally, you may well have noticed that I dress as a Franciscan Friar, wearing either a Brown Habit or Brown shirt and Trousers, (I am not a Jedi or a Monk by the way). St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of ecology and I am in a Religious Order of Men and Women who live in obedience to his rule of life. St Francis is quoted as saying, “make me a Channel of your peace”. These next few months may we all be channel of God’s peace and love in all we do, to our planet, one another, the disadvantaged and to the stranger.
Peace and all Good
Br Alasdair CFC