How different things feel this year!
Normally in early September there is the feeling of great anticipation of new beginnings.
The mornings are often misty as we start back to work and then we are rewarded by lovely sunshine enough to keep the summer wardrobe still in use.
Those returning to schools would have the anticipation and excitement of a fresh start following holidays and summer months of relaxation.
This year it seems we have lost half the year and we need to rewind to experience March to August again!
Our next few months will challenge us even more as we look at new ways to offer fellowship and support each other.
Perhaps this pandemic has heightened our awareness of how fortunate we are in this country Many thousands of people in other parts of the world are literally at the point of starvation.
There is a huge challenge to produce enough food now and into the future as the world population increases.
The autumn months are traditionally the time when we can give thanks for Creation, celebrate the harvest, “all is (safely) gathered in” and thank the farmers.
If you have tended an allotment or worked in your garden during lockdown you might now be reaping your harvest.
For some there are sometimes too many carrots, potatoes or beans - there can be a lot at once to eat or store, so we think of ways to share our produce.
I enjoy making jam, and I used to walk the hedgerows and pick blackberries to add to apples from the garden, and one of my specialities was making greengage jam, when we had the trees bearing fruit. It became quite a cottage industry!
But harvesting and growing can be complex.
Here in Derbyshire we are so blessed with our countryside, our land, our farmers who tend the land and harvest the crop, but it is not without the stresses.
Facing the challenge of food production is not only a matter of thanksgiving but also of responsibility.
In our new “post Brexit-Covid” world our Farmers are having to make changes and they face challenges and uncertainties for their survival.
They, like many of us, will be experiencing the stress of the last months, which is why, as a diocese, our Harvest Appeal is to support mental mealth and wellbeing.
At Harvest we give thanks for the food we have, yet many of us no longer work the land and we are more divorced from food production than people from previous generations.
A hundred years ago, everyone worked the land, helped pick the fruit, helped store the grain.
They also knew that vegetables came out of the ground, had to be washed, scrubbed and were not perfectly shaped as we expect in Supermarkets today.
So we are thankful for our farmers and growers, local and national, who labour over food production.
We are also thankful to have food on our plate when many people around the world lack a basic and secure daily diet.
Harvest has always been a time of community celebration, but it has now taken on a political and economic profile because we face bigger challenges in producing food responsibly to ‘feed the world’.
At Harvest we recognise God’s primary role as creator and sustainer of the earth.
It is not all up to God, we are called to be partners in maintaining the world,we are called to celebrate as well as take responsible action.
So, however you can in this “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”, do still take some time to say thank you to our farmers, for the harvest and pray that we can work to make our way of life harvest friendly to people all round the world.
The Venerable Carol Coslett
Archdeacon of Derby