Rev Sue Gowling thinks about seasonal cycles.
Dear friends and neighbours, a warm welcome to the latest edition of Pivot.
I am writing this letter in early August when the summertime heat seems to be at its height. The children are enjoying time away from the classroom, and, once again, I notice that it takes an inordinate length of time to reach some of my other churches on the Isle of Purbeck because of our many summer-time visitors.
This summer, my husband and I spent some of our days looking after our granddaughters aged 6 years and the other 20 months. It was Mabel’s first experience of ‘Pick Your Own’ and I think she found some of the strawberries a little too ‘sharp’ – but she valiantly persevered and it didn’t stop her tasting the odd one or two berries as we worked our way round the fields harvesting them.
It reminded me that our journey through the seasons continues. Soon our Harvest celebrations will be in full swing – it is an important season in our church calendar. At Harvest-time we thank God for all God’s gifts of food and seasonal weather, especially the crops and other plants which mature in summer and autumn and yet nourish us all year. We thank God, too, for all creatures which move in the waters, fly in the sky and live on the land.
Harvest-time is still a popular celebration, although the days when village communities worked together to bring in the harvest have long since disappeared; and with most produce available in our shops throughout the year we’ve almost lost the concept of a ‘harvest season’.
The effects of climate change are often in the news. We’ve recently learned that ten of the UK’s hottest years have occurred since 2002. Bearing in mind that records go back to 1884, this reveals a worrying trend, as our precious planet attempts to deal with the climate crisis.
So at this time of year, it’s natural for us to think more generally about how our food is produced with debates about GM crops, intensive farming methods, the supermarkets’ influence on farming and the importance of Fairtrade, which changed the way we shop; although it seems that major companies have started to abandon the Fair Trade Movement, setting up their own in-house imitations; which may threaten the very idea of Fair Trade.
In the Book of Genesis, humankind is charged to partner God in the stewardship of creation so, with all the recent climate change evidence, it’s even more important than ever that we reflect on our responsibilities in caring for this God’s wonderful world.
Nature is finely balanced, so we should never take for granted what we receive from it and should always have a sense of thanksgiving in response. Alongside this we should have a deep concern for those whose lives are threatened because they have so little.
So, Harvest is a time for thankfulness, for profound thinking and for a re-commitment from us all to care for our beautiful planet and ensure there are many harvests to come in the future. Harvest Blessings to you all. Rev Sue