Harvest and an Auction

Harvest Sunday today. I’d do away with it, if it were left up to me. Some of you will be familiar with my love of all things rural – NOT! But some folk are terribly sentimental about ploughing fields and scattering and all that jazz. Of course nobody wants your week old neeps and fusty apples these days for Health & Safety reasons but people still like to bring something.  This year we chose St Catharine’s Convent who do a great job feeding the homeless every day and collected tins of corned beef, tuna, sweetcorn and bags of sugar for them. It was a great success.

After the Family Service we shared a lunch and had an Auction of Talents. The bidding was high for Chose 5 hymns for a Sunday, and Have your Portrait Painted, or Have a Watercolour Painted. I successfully bid for a home-made card, home-made rolls to be baked for me, some computer help, and an afternoon out with AC.  Looking forward to it!  There are still some un-bid offers which are begging for a bid. Let me get back to you with the list!


5 thoughts on “Harvest and an Auction

  1. I absolutely detest pluffing the fields and scattering – but some members of our congregation threw a wobbly when we didn’t use it a few years back so… it’s back on the hymn board! Mind you I didn’t do harvest on Sunday, too raw.

  2. Sorry to sound like the carrot crunching yokel that I am….but yes, we do value our annual Harvest Festival (including earthy neeps, tatties and an assortment of other veg and fruit – besides a few sheaves of oats and wheat…we don’t hold with ‘elf n’ safety stuff). It helps keep folk rooted (forgive the awful pun) in God’s good earth and – for at least once a year – we can say ‘Thank you’. The most moving Harvest thanksgiving service I ever attended was in a small country church in Cumbria during the 2001 FMD outbreak. Many churches did not celebrate for obvious reasons but for the congregation of St. Peter’s, Askham the good farming folk of Westmorland (many of whom had lost so much) still felt compelled to say ‘thank you’. Perhaps not for a bountiful harvest in terms of livestock but at least for the other gifts of God that we all take so much for granted – not least that of the support of friends, neighbours and the Church in a time of crisis. The ancient sandstone walls and oak beams trembled with the swelling of hearty singing and breathed silently with the prayers of the faithful.
    Sure, deride it all as ‘folk religion’ but for country folks it has much meaning…and let’s face it, most ‘townies’ have their roots (pun again) in the country way before the Industrial Revolution seduced them towards the dark, satanic mills! If God had intended us to be urban dwellers He’d have created an earth of concrete, brick and steel. Absolutely flawed theology I admit, but hey…us country clerics have to wave the flag for our corner!

  3. Well, yes and no, David. God does seem to be with us in towns as we build amazing things with concrete, brick and steel too.

    The idea that the British countryside is any less a creation of human hands than British cities does seem a little on the romantic side.

    Personally, I’m not sure that Harvest Thanksgiving qualifies as folk religion. It is too modern for that, isn’t it?

    Now, if we were talking about Lammas……

  4. Ah, you misunderstand me, Fr David. When I was in a country parish we had bales of hay for an altar and we all gave thanks for crops because some of our congregation were small farmers. We even had small creatures crawling all over the fair linen cloth at the Eucharist from the hay. I don’t have a problem with harvest in rural parishes.

    In the city we can’t find anyone who is allowed to accept our neeps and carrots after the service and nobody wanted to take them home again so they went to waste. That can’t be good theology?

  5. Kelvin – I agree. Some pretty awesome structures are built – no doubt with God given talents behind them – in towns and cities. Sure, my remark about God’s intentions during the creative process, was perhaps a tad tongue-in-cheek. However, there is little doubt that creeping urbanisation and the desire of many in positions of power to homogenize everything from how and where we should live to what we should eat etc. etc. does rather lure people away from the sense of interconnectedness between humanity, the land (and sea) and God that our forefathers were only too conscious of.
    Granted, Harvest Festival being the brainchild of the Revd. Robert Hawker of Morwenstow, Cornwall in 1843 is relatively modern, yet it has its ancestry in much more ancient forms of ‘thanksgiving’ – Lammas and, of course, our pre-Christian practices that also recognised the bond between humanity, the land and a divine influence (s).
    Thank you Ruth for clarifying your position. Still, it is a dreadful shame and perhaps a sign of the times that your offerings of vegetables went to waste. Good theology it is not! Am I totally wrong in suggesting that had your gifts been tinned, cellophane-wrapped or in brightly coloured boxes with tasteful images thereon then they might well have shifted faster than brown stuff out of a slurry spreader??

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