As we reach the month of October, with the nights beginning to draw in, the heating being turned up and, if we’re lucky, our holidays in the sun now feeling very far behind us, it’s easy to feel down. The month of October also sees, for St. Anne’s, the return of the harvest festival. Of course, traditionally Harvest Festival was a time for giving thanks for the food which had been grown over the past year. However, over time, the festival became an opportunity to give thanks for the past year. I believe that, as we head into winter, the practice of stopping and remembering what we have to be thankful for is vitally important. Even in the hardest circumstances, we can praise God for the good things.
As I write this I am approaching the anniversary of the death of a dearly loved Grandfather. However, he himself would have been the first to point out all the things there are to be thankful for, even in hard times. I’d like to share a poem he wrote with you all, showing his own thankfulness in life’s blessings:
On being 80 – the harvest of life
I was told that life’s real span
was three-score years and ten;
and if by way of strength or chance
we make to carry on the dance,
then there would be aches and pains,
and knees gone weak and backs now bent;
and eyes and ears deficient too,
and much more rushing to the loo!
They never said how much you gain,
by being able to attain,
the years denied to friends of mine
who went before with eyes that shine;
the grand-children grown up and loving,
the joy of all the daily living;
the football, poetry and the stars,
the yearly traveling with flowers.
So I am thankful for the care,
that through the years has brought me here.
the love of God that never ends,
and what is more-for you, my friends!
The celebration of a successful harvest is both a worldwide tradition, and an ancient one. In the Old Testament, and still in the Jewish faith today, this is celebrated in “The Feast of Tabernacles”. A Tabernacle was a kind of temporary shelter, often translated as “tent”. These would be built during the feast, so as to help the Jews remember and give thanks for the way God cared and looked after them in the desert. I mention this because, as we turn to the New Testament, this is given a radical, new meaning, as we are told about Jesus who came and “built his tabernacle amongst us” (Jn 1:14, as the Greek literally puts it). So as we approach this harvest festival let us give thanks for the God who always reaches out to us, the God who “pitches his tent” with us.
P.S. Part of my job as curate is to write an article for the parish magazine, which goes out monthly. I thought I would also put them up on the blog, so expect them every month. I will not explain this again!!