October Letter from The Ministry Team
Our Reader in Training, Karen Drury, writes
When Philip asked if, as a Reader in Training I would be willing to write a piece for this month’s Parish Magazine and suggested the topic ‘Gifts’, I thought, ‘Great, it’s Harvest and gifts will be easy!
More fool me! It turns out the more I thought about it, the bigger the topic
became! Gifts in our society are pretty common; we give birthday gifts, wedding gifts, housewarming gifts, Christening gifts, Christmas gifts (but let’s not think about that just yet!).
The dictionary describes the meaning of gift as follows:
something that you give someone as a present
Generally, if we are giving someone a gift we will put quite a lot of thought into it – what to get, where to get it, how much to spend, how to present it, we may even write a card to go with it.
Harvest is a time for thanksgiving gifts. The tradition of Harvest Thanksgiving is a relatively modern one in the church calendar. Allegedly its origins can be traced to the adaptation of Lammas Day, a festival at the beginning of August when a newly baked loaf was presented before God as a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Revd R S Hawker, a parish priest in Cornwall chose the first Sunday in October as a Christian response to the largely
secular ‘harvest home’ celebration. This spread and became very popular, first being recognised in the Church of England calendar in 1862 and traditionally celebrated by bringing to church gifts of fresh produce and foodstuffs. I can remember well my mother making up wonderful boxes full of fresh fruit and vegetables for us to take to school for our Harvest Celebration.
These days it is more common to be asked to bring non-perishable goods that can be passed on to local foodbanks or charities that support those in need. Charities themselves often refer to financial donations as gifts – ‘Your gift is much appreciated and will have a big impact on those we are helping’. How easy it is for us these days to pop that packet of biscuits or tin of beans into the foodbank collection box, or make a donation quickly and easily online, as I did only the other week, and then not give it any further consideration? I feel reminded of the parable of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44) where the rich could give easily but the tiny gift of the coins given by the widow were prized much more highly because she had given a gift that had cost her everything.
The other dictionary definition of a gift is
If someone has a gift for doing something, they have a natural ability for doing it.
When I worked for St. Rocco’s Hospice in Warrington our Volunteer Co-ordinator used to say that the most important and significant thing that anyone could give was their time, as this was the one commodity that we are unable to get back. Sometimes a gift can be costly.
When God sent his son Jesus into the world, he was giving us the greatest and costliest gift of all. Through Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, we are able to look forward to being reconciled with God and to living eternally with him. This seems to me to be a priceless gift that can never be repaid. We can though, ‘pay it forward’. For me, this harvest time seems like a very good opportunity to take stock and, as I bring my harvest gifts, take time to think about my own gifts and abilities and how I might be able to use them to help my friends, neighbours and even strangers in the coming months and years.
For prayer chain requests please email our Reader, Christ Stanisstreet at : firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are lonely or finding life difficult and would like to talk to someone please telephone one of the ministry team whose contact details are the contacts page of this website. All conversations are in strict confidence.