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Nov 1, 2011

Fr Freddy's November Message


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Category: General
Posted by: suzi hedgecock

Dear Friends of St. Michael’s,

The season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and remembrance is upon us.  Both the Jewish and Christian faiths overflow with harvests, as do all religions since many of them grew out of farming practice.  Deuteronomy, the book which Christ so frequently quoted, commands the Israelites to celebrate harvests.  They were to bring samples of their best corn, fruit and stock to the altar and to thank God for their fields and pastures.

The origin of the word “harvest” is obscure.  It winds in and out of several languages.  We come closest to it when we say that we crop what was rooted.  The poets like to call this rooting-cropping sequence the everlasting circle.  Human existence must go round with this circle, whatever age it is in which we live.

Robert Hawker, Vicar of Morwenstowe, was the inventor of harvest festival as we know it, and his wild parishioners had to be weaned from the dreadful harvest which they gleaned from the sea, the possessions from the ships they wrecked.  Weaned, too, from the goings-on in the barn after they had cut the thin headland corn.  So he brought the harvest into the parish church and all the world followed.  It is this Victorian harvest festival service which we emulate and keep up.  “We plough the fields and scatter ......”  When did we?

The leaves are falling fast; they descend in companionable flurries and we walk on wet gold – each yellow leaf a payment for the summer.

Remembrance – Advent – Christmas, following the circle of the year.  I love the Church of England’s year.  Living through the year is meant to transform you.  The only proof of religion is that it changes you.  If religion makes you kinder and more generous, it’s real; if it makes you bitter and judgemental, stay clear – you are probably on the wrong track.

Remembrance Sunday is an opportunity to be silent and to reflect on the sum of wartime grief and loss, military and civilian, knowing that, of ourselves, we cannot restore life that has been lost: that belongs to God.  But we can commit ourselves to shaping a world of justice and of peace.  And if the words we speak in making that solemn commitment do not have the whole truth within them, may the memorials to our dead sting us into shame.  But let us not forget All Souls Day – Nov. 2nd.  With the clocks going back and All Souls looms upon us, I always sense a moody suspension of time.  An hour is lost in order to gain an hour; the dead yet living briefly retake their vacated seats in our ancient church.  It is unutterably sad, say what you will, not spooky, but sad.  We are the ‘remembrancers’ of those of our community who are no longer with us – as we hear on the long list in the autumn liturgy in church.

By the way, you mustn’t worry if religion goes dead on you at times. It’s as if God wants to meet you somewhere other than in the old familiar places.

Fr Freddy



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