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Mike Claridge - 22nd September 2013

Roundabout - October 2013

St Andrew's, West Bromwich

As I write this we’re in the middle of the season of Harvest Festivals which means that, in late September, we’re once again making the transition from summer to autumn. Soon the leaves on the trees will start to change colour and later, as autumn moves towards winter, they will fall. The season is beautifully summed up in Keats’ poem:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

From John Keats' poem, To Autumn, 1820

It’s a poem brimming over with images of harvest. I love Harvest Festivals! I’ve already done a couple at different churches. At St Andrew’s we’ll be holding one on Sunday, 6th October at 9.30am. Then on the morning of Monday 7th October the church will be hosting a Harvest Festival for Ryders Green Primary School. The Harvest Supper at St Andrew’s, hosted by the Boys Brigade and Girls Association, will be on Tuesday, 8th October at 7.00pm and will be a Ploughman’s Supper. A veritable season in itself.

What’s Harvest all about? Firstly it’s a Thanksgiving for the provision of the earth that sustains us throughout the year. Here in the Black Country it’s right and proper that so many harvest display’s contain a great lump of coal alongside the edible produce. The season is about much more than crops. One of the popular harvest readings, from Deuteronomy in the Jewish Scriptures, talks about God’s provision of “a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper” (Deut. 8 v.9) Harvest is about giving thanks for the bounty of the earth in all it’s forms. But it’s also about more than thanksgiving!

What do we do when we hear good news? We want to share it, of course we do, and we’re very good at doing so. We need to remember that we need to do the same with other things that are good, not just news. That includes sharing the provisions of the earth. At harvest most of our offerings of fruit and vegetables will by going to West Bromwich Food Bank and the soup kitchen operated by Centrepoint Church on Carters Green. Other produce, particularly the perishable goods, will be sold off and proceeds given to Christian Aid’s work, through partner organisations in the Middle East, with refugees in Iraq fleeing the civil war in Syria. That way we will be sharing the good things of God’s provision to us with others, both and home and overseas.

Have a happy season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.