Rector's Ramblings: October 4th 2020



Today we launch into our harvest services across the Woodfield Team, and will be harvesting for 3 Sundays across all the churches. As with so many things, these services will be different this year – not least because we can’t sing the all time favourite ‘We plough the fields and scatter’. Churches will not be decorated to the hilt and we can’t enjoy eating together at harvest lunches and suppers. That makes me sad as I have enjoyed some wonderful harvest eats and entertainment down the years.

    Yet perhaps we can see this as a very special harvest time. Wherever we turn, we see tetchiness, anxiety, despair, fed-upness.  Perhaps we can be at the forefront of re-introducing thankfulness, and see harvest as the launch pad. Thankfulness isn’t something we can generate only when we are in an ‘up’ mood; indeed it’s thankfulness that can help us to be joyful whatever the times are.

   Harvest services are a time when we can give thanks to God for all his many gifts, even today, even now. A time to be prompted to be thankful people at all times. We live in times of entitlement, when the list of what we claim to be ours by right seems to grow longer by the day. We deserve to have this; we have a right to that.  I wonder if many of the Covid restrictions that challenge us, in fact challenge our belief that we’re entitled to do what we want when we want drink and party as we want; to go on holidays whenever and wherever we want and so on. We had become a society with unprecedented individual freedom. A sense that we are entitled and ‘deserve’ leaves little space for being grateful. How can we be happy without being grateful? How much do we take God's many blessings for granted, or worse still, as our entitlement?

    I want to encourage us to get into the habit of turning to God in thankfulness. There is so much to be grateful for, and we need to remind ourselves of this all the time. We are the recipients of wonderful, unearned gifts: the air we breathe, the life we have; a planet that we didn’t create and that we don’t sustain - a planet that is amazingly wonderful; love; our senses; laughter. At harvest, we are reminded that while farmers plant and nurture seeds, they can’t make the seed grow into a crop. The list is endless.

    We are recipients of God’s love which we haven’t earned and don’t deserve. In Jesus on the cross, we see God say to us ‘You are loved this much. Don’t you get it?’ God created each one of us as very special and unique; he sustains each one of us and says ‘Be my friend’. What a gift!

    ‘The root of joy is gratefulness...It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.’ so writes David Steindl-Rast. Let’s ask for the grace of an open and grateful heart. Taking time to be grateful and addressing myself to God allows me to receive a deeper blessing in hearing God’s response. We thank God for the gift of faith, which makes us more capable of facing life with all its suffering and contradictions. We ask the Lord Jesus to strengthen our faith. Gratefulness gives birth to joy but we’ll need to work at it. I’d recommend that at the end of each day, you look back and bring to mind all that you can give thanks for. For myself, the more I do that, the more I notice what makes me thankful – but it takes time.

   The more we are thankful in our attitude to God, the more that thankfulness flows out to others. Can you think of how you feel when someone expresses their thanks to you? It’s good and heart warming. Our challenge is to express more often our thanks – too often we forget and wish we had but somehow never do. How often are we just taking everything for granted, forgetting what effort those we know (and those we don’t) are investing in ensuring that things do go on and happen? Gratitude oils the wheels of life.

  Let’s make this harvest- time a very special and perhaps unique time when we step out again on our life’s journey in the spirit and practice of thankfulness – it will deepen our relationship with Jesus and with our fellow human beings. Thankfulness has that effect.

  To end my call to thankfulness, a prayer: “Jesus, let us never to take you for granted; your touch in our life can warm us and heal us and make us whole. You will never abandon us Jesus, help us to give thanks to you and give honour to your Holy Name. Amen”