Thought for the day - 25/09/2013 - John Bell of the Iona Community
On Sunday I stood at the back of a country church in North Yorkshire, my eyes and mouth watering as the congregation brought in baskets of apples and plums, home made cakes, award winning chutneys. As a visiting preacher I had never been shown such unmerited largesse. Then I remembered that the occasion was harvest thanksgiving.
This annual ritual which can turn a rural church into a cross between a farmer's market and the Chelsea Flower Show is not a peculiarly Christian tradition. It has roots in the Hebrew scriptures* and has an equivalent in most global religions. And I dearly wish it would make comeback in urban areas where sometimes a few tins of beans on the altar steps is as near to a harvest festival as it gets.
It's not just nostalgia that makes me think this is important.
In Britain we cannot sing with any real sincerity, 'We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land' because we produce only a third of what we consume. We rely on the industry of people we cannot see, in countries few of us have visited, to enable us to have spring onions in the autumn and fresh strawberries at Christmas, often at a price more convenient to the purchaser than the grower. So we would do well - we who pride ourselves in living in an independent nation - to remember how dependent we are on others for what nourishes our bodies.
But as I watched these Yorkshire villagers bringing their turnips and carrots, some of which still showed evidence of the soil in which they were grown, another thought crossed my mind.
When, in the book of Genesis we read about God's intentional creation of humanity, we discover that the prototype was called Adam. Now he wasn't given that name because God intended to go through the alphabet and A happened to be the first letter. No. It is much more subtle...