Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
On Sunday at St Mary Magdalene we celebrated Harvest Festival. It was not the usual service, with the church decorated with the produce of God’s bounty, no singing the familiar harvest hymns but, sadly, just a bare church. Nevertheless it was a celebration of thanksgiving for all that God has given us, as it should be and has been down the years.
This morning’s mist reminds us that autumn is on its way, “The season mists and mellow fruitfulness”, as John Keats once wrote. So we leave one season behind to enter another. There will be difficulties and dangers ahead, with no doubt, some pain and sorrow; the coronavirus is after all still with us and shows no signs of abating. But let us, at this harvest time, rejoice in the bountiful abundance of God’s good gifts to us and be thankful that God has promised to walk with us every step of the way. Let us also remember that whilst autumn will be followed by winter still, to quote Shelley this time: “If winter comes can spring be far behind?”
Here are the prayers I prepared for yesterday's service:
We have no right to be envious at the generosity and mercy God shows to others
Loving Father, We thank you for the rich provision of the harvest gathered in but:
We dare not ask you bless our harvest feast
Till it is spread for poorest and for least
We dare not bring our harvest gifts to you
Unless our hungry brothers share them too.
Not only at this time but every day
Those whom you love are dying as we pray.
Teach us to do with less, and so to share
From our abundance more than we can spare. (Lilian Cox)
Strengthen Peter and John our bishops, Michael, Graham and Peter our priests and all your Church in the service of Christ that we may be united in your truth, live together in your love and reveal your glory to the world. Lord in your mercy
Loving Father, increase in us love not only for the victims but also the perpetrators of evil and violence in our world; for all governments which run on corruption and fear. We pray for a change of heart and attitude, an awakening to a better way of living, and the courage to reject wrong principles. Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen: give wisdom to all in authority: and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and peace: that we may honour one another, and seek the common good. Lord in your mercy
Loving Father, The current restrictions make it difficult for us to gather together as much as we would like, but may our closeness to family and friends make us never exclusive, shutting others out, but always inclusive welcoming others so that we may serve Christ in one another and love as He loves us. This year we cannot collect goods or donations for those who have so little at our Harvest Festival, so let us show that love for our neighbour by supporting the local food banks for those in need. Lord in your mercy
Loving Father, we pray for those suffering from diseases for which at present there is no cure. May they never lose their faith in your loving purpose. Grant wisdom to all who are working to discover the causes of disease, and the realisation that through you all things are possible. Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body mind or spirit: give them courage and hope in their troubles: and bring them the joy of your salvation. Lord in your mercy
Loving Father, at this hour some souls will pass from this life into the unknown world. May their release be merciful, and may they find light in Thee, who art the God of all flesh and victor over the grave.
I am an Authorised Local Preacher in an Anglo Catholic parish church, in the Diocese of Essex UK