The last few chilly days remind us that autumn is on the way and the nights are drawing in. The month of September means the growing season is drawing to a close and it will soon be time for Harvest Thanksgiving Services in our Churches.
A Harvest Festival is a joyous occasion, a time when we give thanks to God for all the good things he has provided for us. It is an occasion when we love to sing those familiar hymns and to see our Church beautifully decorated for the Harvest season. Many people have fond memories of the Harvest Festival Services of their younger days, and are able tell stories of bringing baskets of Fruit and Vegetables to church, or recount humorous tales of the choirmaster banning some small boy from the choir for juggling with the apples.
As a city girl, born and bred on the outskirts of Liverpool, my memories of harvest will be quite different to those who have always lived in a rural community. For me I’m afraid, eggs, milk, vegetables and bread came from the local shop or supermarket. I have no memories of drinking warm milk from the milking pail or of sitting aloft the hay wagon and I can’t tell you of days of sowing and reaping and bringing home the harvest of our own hands but I know many of you can recall such memories.
Although farming has changed over the decades with the introduction of modern machinery, combine harvesters bring in the crops, milking machines collect the milk, and tankers take it away to be processed, every harvest requires hard work. The land has to be tilled, the seed has to be sown, the soil has to be fed and watered, the weather has to be kind and only then do we start to see the results of that labour.
One thing has not changed, nor ever will, the harvest of the fields and all good gifts are given to us by God. The sun and the rain, are sent by God. The soil, the seed, the animals are all God’s gifts. We can enter the supermarket and feel overwhelmed by the choice and variety of fruit and vegetables available but throughout it all we need to remember that it is God who has provided each one for our daily needs.
So this Harvest time we give thanks for those who toil on land and sea to bring food to our shops and our tables. May we stand with our farmers as they struggle to negotiate a fair price for their produce and play our part by being willing to pay a realistic price that will enable farming to flourish here in Wales.