Please find a link to our October 2021 church magazine:
Inside you’ll find all the regular news, views and information on upcoming events. There’s also a reflection on the life of Arthur Smith, long-time organist at Christ Church, who recently died aged 106.
In addition, the October 2021 church magazine also has this Harvest letter from Ian Banks…
The Gift that keeps on Giving
I grew up in the West Country and our church included farmers and fishermen. Our Harvest festivals alternated between bales of hay and a plough one year with nets and a small rowing boat the next. The building was full of local produce, part of which would be given away and part used to make a church supper.
Our festival was in September, immediately after the last of the crops were brought in. A thanksgiving to God for the weather holding, a recognition for the effort that everyone had made and a mark of relief too, since failure could mean significant hardship for at least part of the congregation. The church service was sometimes the morning after the night before, when a little too much local scrumpy had flowed at the real Harvest Home!
And on the communion table, there was a fancy loaf, formed as a wheatsheaf. If you looked closely there would be a small field mouse hidden within the design. Occasionally we would have the bread earlier in the season on Lammas Day (Loaf Mass Day) as a mark of faith as the first of the crops came in, rather than as a thanks at the end.
For many of us here in Bury today there is less of a direct link between a local harvest and our Harvest Festival. The date we hold it has little to do with agriculture. And, for most of us, our lives and livelihoods don’t carry the same level of immediate dependency.
Yet our global economy and sourcing of food stuffs means we’re all affected by the success of harvests everywhere – and at all times of the year. Heat and cold, sun and rain, are just as important as they ever were. Only now it might be what’s happening in California or Australia or Spain, as well as just up the road. God still provides the weather. And the crops still need to be sown and harvested. One still relies on the other.
In the first of Jesus’ big outdoor catering events, he was given a small boy’s lunch. Five loaves and two fishes. He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He took the ordinary stuff of life in all its meagreness and scarcity and turned it into a sacramental sign of God’s generosity. It was a gift that kept on giving. They all ate and were filled. But it needed that lad to give his lunch in the first place. One relied on the other.
Give what little we have
Took, blessed, broke, gave. Does that remind you of words said at each Eucharist? At each Communion throughout the year, we’re reminded of God’s generosity and of Jesus, the gift that kept on giving. But as God’s earthly representatives it needs us to play our part, to give of what little we have – our skills, abilities and resources – and let them be transformed into God’s abundance for the world. Ian
For a link to the September 2021 church magazine, please press here. Hard copy versions of the October magazine are available in both of our churches.