For the ploughing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth's safe-keeping,
thanks be to God.
These words from a harvest hymn, are a reminder that St Oswald’s will launch this month of October with our annual Harvest Celebrations. We invite you to ‘Come, ye thankful people, come…’
Last year one of our school and church children asked me ‘when is harvest, actually’? She had realised that our village wide celebrations of harvest were spread across a few weeks. That is one of the features of harvest – we can’t quite pin it down! I remember the comment once being made that ‘it is harvest somewhere every day of the year!’ The process of ploughing and sowing, growing and reaping, harvesting and sleeping is a continuous and a never-ending cycle.
Our Harvest Celebrations are simply marking a moment, at a time of year which has become traditional, to celebrate something much bigger and more far-reaching than we can ever truly do justice to in our singing of a few harvest hymns, and our gathering and sharing of a few harvest gifts.
Those same images of growing and harvesting are prevalent in the stories of the Gospel – the Sower and the Seed, the Mustard Seed, the Wheat and Tares, and so on. They remind us that life itself, and in particular our own life, is a process and a cycle of sowing and reaping, growing and sleeping.
The Church has long been seen as a place within which the seasons and cycle of life are celebrated and where the moments of significant change and transition along the way are marked. That is where the slightly irreverent phrase, “hatch, match and dispatch” comes from, referring to the services of the Church offered at times of beginning and birth, love and marriage, and of death.
Of course, we actually call these services, Baptisms or Christenings, Marriages or Blessings, and Funerals or Memorial and Thanksgiving Services.
As someone who has been involved in ministry for over 30 years, I can honestly say that sharing with individuals and families in those celebrations of the new seeds and buds of life (birth and baptisms), in the growing and blossoming of life and love (marriages and blessings), and in the recognition that all human life reaches its final harvest and deserves to be gathered tenderly and celebrated appropriately (funerals and memorials), are some of the greatest privileges of my priestly role.
The Church of England continues to provide a Parish Church for everyone across our nation. Our Parish Church (for Collingham and Harewood) is St Oswald’s and we are here to share in our small ways the greater truth that the whole process and cycle of life its
elf, and that the whole of your life, is held in God’s safe keeping.
Do come and celebrate this year’s Harvest and give thanks for the cycle of nature’s seasons, and if you would like to discuss the possibility of marking a more personal and significant season or moment in your own, or your family’s life, please do get in touch.
Love & Prayers
The Reverend Carolyn A James