Tom Writes..

September 2017

Tom writes...Rev. Tom Ringland

Our Harvest service is on October 1st at 10.30 a.m. and no doubt we will soon be singing, ‘…All is safely gathered in / Ere the winter storms begin’.

Few of us now work on the land, but we are as dependent as ever on food producers – upon the farming community in this country and around the world. It’s an important time of year to call to mind all that’s done to bring food to table, the pressures to feed the world in the context of an increasingly stressed planet.

Gathering in the surplus from the growing season to tide us over lean times is a wise and some would say obvious thing to do. However, it can take foresight and discipline to put the work in before the ‘winter storms’ begin.

Joseph – (of technicolour dreamcoat fame) – was given the foresight to see that, though Pharaoh and the Egyptians were enjoying seven years of plenty, this would be followed by seven years of famine. Accordingly, a lot of work went into building grain stores and securing the surplus so that when the hard times came, the Egyptians were able to feed not just themselves but surrounding communities too – no doubt securing a tidy profit at the same time! (see Genesis Chapter 41).

Gathering in, in times of plenty relates not just to food, but for example to finance. We say, ‘I’m putting that aside for a rainy day…’

It’s a matter for concern that we are saving less than previous generations and living for the present moment. There may be a variety of reasons for this, and no doubt Government needs to do more to encourage saving – but we need to look to our own responsibilities too.

Beyond food and finance we can look at other aspects that lead to a full and flourishing life. Friends and Faith are further themes drawing on the letter ‘F’!

Loneliness is a scourge of our time as people live longer and more independently. Is there a sense in which we would be wise to make the effort to commit to friends and to community groups – including the church – so that we have a range of friendships and relationships in hand as the years advance?

And faith, left till last in this letter, is by no means least important as we are encouraged to collect a harvest in the good days so we have resources on which to depend on the rainy days.

The habit of regular worship and of reading and thinking about our faith is crucially important if we are to remain positive and to enjoy a sense of hope and peace whatever the days may bring. Faith like anything else, grows and develops as it is nurtured and encouraged.

All of this and more arises out of the season of harvest, so again I commend to you our harvest festival – and indeed all our activities at St Martins – let’s recall words from the same harvest hymn:

“All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto his praise to yield … Grant O Lord of life that we holy grain and pure may be.”

(Come, you thankful people come: verse 2 ).

May God make you strong in faith and love, defend you on every side and guide you in truth and peace –

Tom