I have just met with a friend of mine who was visiting the Anglican Church in the Kondoa Diocese in Central Tanzania. He said that the rains have not come and the crops are dead in the fields. There is no water and the children were digging twelve feet down in the dry riverbed to extract just a bowlful of murky water. How different from our mini-heatwaves where we just walk over to the tap and pour a glass of drinking water or go to fridge for a juice to quench our thirst.
My friend commented that despite the drought there is no shortage of joy in the faces and hearts of the people he met as he travelled the rough roads and tracks in a beaten up Toyota Landcruiser. The pictures and video clips of the church services and gatherings for worship all displayed a wonderful sense of freedom and spontaneous joy. The Church meeting under the shade of the ‘big tree’ means no worries about the peg-tiled roof or the wall heaters. As for the offering there was little need of the collection plate as the offering came in the form of a live chicken. There’s an idea for the harvest offering at St Mary’s this year – livestock only!
In spite of our sophisticated food supply chains and the fresh water that we have at the turn of a tap, such encounters are a reminder that we are dependent on many uncertain factors for our food and drink. Inevitably we take it all for granted and hardly give a thought to the many people and systems that work together to give us our daily bread. How many of us stop to give thanks for our plate of food before diving in with the knife and fork? As it says in the old harvest hymn, ‘all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love.’
At Harvest Festival we pause to give thanks for all that we have been blessed with, in food, drink and provision. As Christians we do not take these gifts for granted and we express our gratitude by giving to those who have lost all and are roaming the streets of our capital, hungry and thirsty. Our Harvest offering and collection for the Manna Society is just a small token of our gratitude to God for all the good gifts that we receive on a daily basis.
Rev Dr Christopher Noble – Rector
St Mary’s Stansted with Fairseat and Vigo