I can remember as a curate being involved in the distribution of gifts from our church’s Harvest Festival. We were awash with veg of all shapes and sizes, but it was the marrows that presented the biggest problems! We prepared boxes of various fruit and veg to take round to the elderly and house bound. I was very aware of the problem we were creating for the frail little old lady who could hardly carry the marrow, let alone do anything with it in any meaningful way. Times have changed though.
In our churches of Hellingly and Upper Dicker over the next few weeks we shall be celebrating God’s provision to us of the incredible plenty of the food we are able to enjoy. Over the years I have seen a steady reduction in the amount of fresh produce that is brought as a free will offering. There is something special about seeing the variety of produce that people grow in their gardens and allotments. But the difficulty is knowing what to do with it all.
As my experience as a curate illustrates we are not always able to make the best use of fresh produce, so churches have changed their approach and we would rather encourage the offering of tins or packets that can be used by organisations and institutions. Just a few years ago boxes were made up and taken to local care homes and the like. These days we live in the age of Food Banks and they are usually the willing recipients. Hailsham Food Bank will be receiving ours. It is also possible that we as a people are losing touch with the earth. Something else I have observed is that fewer and fewer people seem to be out picking blackberries from the hedgerows. I can recall in years gone by how when driving down the lanes you would always come across blackberry pickers. Now it seems to be a rare sight, and I have had the pick of the berries from the burgeoning hedgerows as a result!
We need to get back to basics and remember God’s hand in nature. For those wanting to know more former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will be at Firle Place, near Lewes on Friday October 2 at 7pm talking about, ‘Christianity and the Environment’. Tickets are available from Firle church and post office – 01273 858005, or book your place through the Chichester Diocesan website. It is only when we remember that it is God’s world and that we have food to enjoy because of him that our Harvest Festivals can really become a grateful explosion of praise!