Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
The church notices on Sunday asked that if anyone had excess fruit or vegetables, as they would be very welcome to leave them in the church porch for others to help themselves, in exchange for a donation to church funds. A reminder, if one were needed that autumn starts on 1 September and the trees are already heavy with fruit with crops ripening in the fields. Very soon the Church will celebrate Harvest festival as it has done for ages past. Indeed, three, agriculture related pilgrimage festivals are mandated in Exodus 23:14-17, whilst the manner of their observance is described in Deuteronomy. To this day our Jewish brethren know the autumn festival of Ingathering as Sukkoth which historically celebrates the wandering of the Israelites in the desert for 40 years, when they had to rely only upon God for food and protection as well as celebrating the last harvest festival before the onset of the winter rains in the land of Israel. Those winter rains in their turn watered the ground making it fertile so that it provided food for the coming year; it still does and so the cycle continues. As our ancestors did all those years ago, we celebrate the bringing in of the harvest each year with gratitude. Thanks to God for providing the rain and the sun to give us such abundance of food but also for the opportunity to share some of God’s bounty with others in need.
Then I remember an old grace said before meals: ‘Bless, O Lord, this food to our lips and us to thy service.’ The festival of Sukkoth then reflects that prayer asking that God blesses us and gathers us into His Family so that we may be of service to Him. Just as we bring fruit and vegetables to the Harvest Festival service so each of us has a unique talent to bring to the table to offer in God’s service, and we are called to do so, for as Teresa of Avila said ‘Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes with which Christ looks out his compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.’
After the service, I saw Joan carrying in a big box of pears from her garden to add to the collection of fruit already in the church porch. She remarked that it is surprising how much money accumulates in the wall safe!
But the real question is: Are the abundance of talents with which God has blessed you being used as wisely in God’s service?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years