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Viewpoint from Rev Mandy Bishop 10/10/2014 

Dove rightRev Mandy Bishop
Rector, Flegg Group Ormesby

At around about this time of year churches will be decorated with loaves shaped like wheat sheaves, with fruit and vegetables piled up in pyramids as church congregations prepare to celebrate Harvest. Flowers will also be glorious as the florists of the church pull out all the stops and produce a riot of gorgeous autumnal colours
But are these harvest celebrations really relevant to the communities outside our church families anymore?

 Many of us get our vegetables from the supermarket, our bread from a plastic packet and our milk from the paper shop. The nearest we have ever been to a farm is visiting one on holiday or on a special “farm open day” - and this whole harvest festival idea seems a bit remote to many even though in the area I am called to minister and serve God’s people is privileged to have several working farms nearby

dove leftWell I believe Harvest has to stay as an annual celebration for all our God gives us. Not just in the food we eat, but also in His guidance, and spiritual gifts. To reap the fruits of our own Christian hearts, the fruits of the spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control

 You see, unless we make ourselves stop at least once a year and acknowledge the natural goodness and the produce of the earth – and our own behaviour towards one another,  there is a danger that we will never do it, and our English tradition of celebrating harvest and engaging with our neighbours, in love, will be lost forever

Harvest festivals re-connect many from our communities including our schools, mid-week pensioners groups, residential homes and our uniformed groups, with the natural order of food, and the Christian fellowship of love with their neighbours. It is also an opportunity to share the generosity and love of God with others

 All the good things around us, are sent from heaven above, so in our giving thanks and giving something back, we are helping our communities focus on those who are less fortunate than ourselves, which encourages the greatest Commandment of “love your neighbour as yourself”

 Jesus on one occasion, having seen how the crowds flocked to him with an obvious hunger for the touch of God, sent his close followers off in all directions to broadcast the ministry he had begun. His words to them were, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2)

 Enjoy your harvest celebrations, where they may be, and wherever you go take along your neighbours and friends, invite them and embrace them, in the love of God

 God bless you