Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

I’ve noticed that a lot of greetings I receive by letter or email these days include the words, ‘I hope you are surviving the summer’. It is indeed hot and one of the more challenging aspects of a dry summer is keeping the garden going. We’ve given up on the grass and now we’re focussing on keeping our favourite plants alive. The allotment has also been a challenge and some of us are wondering whether there will be any vegetables to put into the Sherfield Show by the time it arrives. The onions, lettuces, beetroot, spinach and radishes are bolting and our autumn fruiting raspberries think that it is autumn right now. One significant comment made by a fellow allotmenteer was, ‘Just imagine if we relied on this food for our survival’.

During my childhood we only just had enough money to live and there were a couple of occasions when the food actually ran out. Even so, we didn’t truly know what it was to go hungry. I had some friends who used to run a small holding and would talk about the time between using up autumn veg and the beginning of the new growth season as being the ‘hungry gap’, even so, they still had the option, as we all did, of going to the supermarket as an emergency measure.

There are, of course, many people throughout the world for whom a crop failure is the difference between life and death, even with the intervention of charitable giving. I find myself imagining what it would really be like if we truly relied on our allotment produce for survival. I fear that in a modern, prosperous society we have no sense of our vulnerability. The infrastructure and mechanisms that bring us our “daily bread” run very smoothly and there are often stockpiles of food for emergencies. However, if we stop to think about it for a moment we are much more vulnerable than we realise.

Harvest time gives us a moment to stop, think about and express our gratefulness for what we have. It’s important to pause and say thank you, not only for our food, but to those around us who supply our needs in so many ways; those who serve in our shops, those who provide us with medical care, those who drive our buses and trains, keep the streets clean, empty our bins and cut the grass. There are so many people and things to be grateful for.

Importantly, and a really good reason for having the time of thanksgiving, is that this reflective process should inspire us to think about the needs of others. Hopefully we will be motivated to give, not just what we can, but even beyond that, as a sheer act of generosity. One of the most inspiring verses in the Bible with regards to giving comes from 2 Corinthians Chapter 8 and refers to some churches in Macedonia who, by all accounts, were very poor. The second verse reads as follows, “in the middle of very severe difficulty, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to God’s people”.

From the relative comfort of the life that I lead, I am deeply challenged by this particular account. I leave you to your own thoughts. Do come and join us as we celebrate Harvest at 10 o’clock on Sunday 23rd September in St Leonard’s Church. At this service we will have an opportunity to say thank you to God and make a generous donation to ‘Foodbank’.

Every blessing
Stephen
07943014277 vicar.sb54rev@gmail.com

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