Vicar's Letter

From the Assistant Curate

This year the daylight seems to have disappeared more quickly than other years and suddenly we are faced with long, dark evenings. 

Thoughts of long days of sunshine are behind us. 

I was lucky enough to be in Ireland in the last week of August and enjoyed some beautiful days of sunshine. Such a treat, driving through the countryside and seeing farmers working from dawn until dusk, on their tractors and combine harvesters. They were making the most of the sunshine, gathering in the harvest, leaving enormous bales of hay in their wake, scattered across the fields, waiting to be collected and stacked in barns for winter feed. 

The sight gladdened my heart and reminded me of the glories of our earth and more importantly reminded me that I am a small part of the whole of creation.  Each year during September and October the church celebrates the Season of Creation and Harvest is part of the season. An Ecumenical Steering Committee proposes a theme for the Season of Creation for churches to follow if they wish to do so. The theme for this year is “A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God.” “Oikos”, a Greek word meaning “home” or “family” and is the root word for “ecology” and “ecumenical”. The theme relates to how each of us is part of the family of the creator, we are part of the balance of creation. 

Everything we do, use, discard has significance. And it is important to recognise that things change and we need to move with the changes.

Here is a charming story: (author unknown) 

There was once a spider who lived in a cornfield. He was a big spider and he had spun a beautiful web between the corn stalks. He got fat eating all the bugs that would get caught in his web. He liked his home and planned to stay there for the rest of his life. One day the spider caught a little bug in his web, and just as the spider was about to eat him, the bug said, "If you let me go, I will tell you something important that will save your life." 

The spider paused for a moment and listened because he was amused. "You better get out of this cornfield," the little bug said, "The harvest is coming!" 

The spider smiled and said, "What is this harvest you are talking about? I think you are just telling me a story." But the little bug said, "Oh no, it is true. The owner of this field is coming to harvest it soon. All the stalks will be knocked down and the corn will be gathered up. You will be killed by the giant machines if you stay here." 

The spider said, "I don't believe in harvests and giant machines that knock down corn stalks. How can you prove this?" The little bug continued, "Just look at the corn. See how it is planted in rows? It proves this field was created by an intelligent designer." The spider laughed and mockingly said, "This field has evolved and has nothing to do with a creator. Corn always grows that way." The bug went on to explain, "Oh no. This field belongs to the owner who planted it, and the harvest is coming soon." The spider grinned and said to the little bug, "I don't believe you," and then the spider ate the little bug for lunch. 

A few days later, the spider was laughing about the story the little bug had told him. He thought to himself, "A harvest! What a silly idea. I have lived here all of my life, and nothing has ever disturbed me. I have been here since these stalks were just a foot off the ground, and I'll be here for the rest of my life, because nothing is ever going to change in this field. Life is good, and I have it made."

The next day was a beautiful sunny day in the cornfield. The sky above was clear and there was no wind at all. That afternoon as the spider was about to take a nap, he noticed some thick dusty clouds moving toward him. He could hear the roar of a great engine and he said to himself, "I wonder what that could be?" 

Celebrating Harvest festival, an ancient tradition in the church, always feels a little alien when we live in suburbia. We would have to travel some distance to find fields that have been harvested in the way I saw in Ireland. But if we consider ourselves as co-creators, then it makes sense to celebrate Harvest in a way that recognises our responsibility for the care of the world in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. And perhaps we need to heed the lesson from the little bug and the spider.

Gracious God help us to remember that you call human beings to keep your garden in ways that honour the dignity of each creature and conserve their place in the abundance of life on Earth. Amen. 

Ann Clarridge 

(Adapted from: C of E Resources for Season of Creation. Ecumenical Committee)