We are approaching the time of the most evocative church services of the year.
I am sure others of a certain age remember the harvests that involved the whole village community.
The slow moving ‘reaper binder’, sometime still horse drawn, would throw out sheaves.
These had to be placed in stooks, where hopefully the grain would dry out.
Then ricks would be made and the harvester awaited. The actual cutting of a field could take several days.
Now it is all so different. Fast moving, huge bladed combines hoover up fields in a matter of hours.
There is no battle with the elements and no need for extra hands in the fields.
Harvest festivals then were services of joy, thanks and hopefully triumph.
As a boy I marvelled at how our village churches were decorated.
Apples adorned the window sills and font. Sheaves were by the pulpit.
The fruits of autumn were everywhere.
The congregation reflected the efforts of all those who had ensured all were safely gathered in. My mother joined a small choir which sang about a God who visited the earth, and blessed it.
In many churches there are still meaningful services, but few there have helped with the harvest. There cannot be the same emotional involvement.
My wife, the Rev Penny faced this challenge when leading the Barton Senior Citizens Club annual harvest service, and had a fine idea. All forty or so members celebrated a harvest of skills.
Their skills, their contribution to making our world a better place. Some could remember building aeroplanes at Gloucester or repairing them at Kemble. Others at working at ‘the bacon factory’ or Mycalex. There was a reading of a poem by respected Cotswold headmaster, the late Jim Turner who many present lovingly remembered.
It was a true personal occasion for so many worthy people who in their own fashion had done their best in all sorts of ways.
They are the rocks on which our current society is best. It was a true festival and a wonderful harvest for each individual.