There was something understated about our Harvest Festival Service today, and it was all the better for it. Being a small church ours had a small display of gifts, produce and flowers. The non-perishable gifts were to go to a local charity for struggling families, the produce to a local soup kitchen for the homeless, and there was an opportunity to donate money for The Lord’s Larder charity. No huge or awkward fuss, but a genuine thanksgiving for people and the gifts of this world and the people in it. It was made all the better for there being a blessing of a new baby who was visiting – (he is to be baptised next month in his home church.)
I tell you all of this – and I hope it is obvious how thankful I was for the service and the usual warm and friendly welcome, as an introduction to one fateful Harvest Service I remember a good number of years ago. The display was lavish – it was a large town-centre church – and there were a number of people helping with the decoration of the church as people arrived the day before with gifts. But the bickering was unbelievable. It seemed that there was no easy agreement as to which gifts/produce should take pride of place. In other words it was the antithesis of Christian love and a sense of working together. It was set to escalate into a pitched battle. The Minister (not me) appeared, complimented all, tweaked one or two things and set out to thank the helpers. All of a sudden things calmed down.
The next day at the service, (where I was helping,) I couldn’t help but smile to myself as the beatific faces before me sang sweetly of God’s love and provision. And I was glad to see the attitude of helpfulness and camaraderie carried forward as the same helpers stayed behind after worship to make up parcels for the elderly housebound and retirement homes. I suppose the moral of the story is that it is important to help with a good grace, and that we don’t have to compete to be important all the time.
I hope you have had a good Sunday time of contemplation, however, whatever and whenever….