Last month we were conscious of the harvest being gathered in all around our beautiful valley. For most the harvest will be complete in October, or very nearly. We owe a great debt of gratitude to all our farmers who work against many odds to provide not only for their own families, but also for the well being of wider society.
It is good to stop and give thanks for their labours, and for the provision of food for us all in our harvest festival season.
The harvest festivals also help us consider the challenges of farming and the provision of food across the spectrum. The phrase ‘food security’ keeps cropping up (if you will excuse the pun!), whether with reference to countries afar that are struggling with erratic weather patterns and socio-economic systems that are stacked against their endeavour, or whether with reference to local businesses that are trying to do their best again in the face of instability, both economic and natural. Also, there are the growing cohort of people who just aren’t able to feed themselves or their families sufficiently, either because of homelessness or through straightened household budgets.
With these issues in mind we have termed our harvest season this year our daily bread, remembering the line from the Lord’s prayer that beseeches God to be providential in the most basic of our needs, food.
Of course we believe that bread just doesn’t appear out of the skies, like the manna from heaven, but rather our prayers are answered by us feeding one another. To this end we have invited people who are at the frontline of feeding others to speak at our harvest festivals: a local farmer at Knighton; St. Paul’s hostel for the homeless at Pensax, with speakers from a food bank, and also from the international context being booked.
As we hear stories of providing food in these very different situations, may we call to mind lines from our Holy Communion service: we who are many are one body, because we all share in one bread.