During my visit to the Holy land, we spent five nights staying on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at a hotel on the outskirts of Tiberias. The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide and can be known by various names – Lake Galilee, Sea of Tiberias or Kinneret, which comes from the Hebrew name for harp as it is shaped like a harp. Towards the northern end of the lake is the Mount of the Beatitudes. Here tradition places the site of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus uttered the words of the beatitudes. At this site in the countryside is a lovely church built in 1937 by the Franciscans which commands a superb view over the Sea of Galilee. The church is octagonal in shape commemorating the eight blessings of the beatitudes.
John Griffiths came along to the October Saturday Church to tell us about the work of Christian Aid and its partners in South Sudan. We heard about Nyipock and his family, who are Christians and live in the village of Alok. They have had to move around and have lost their home because of fighting in Sudan but an organisation that Christian Aid works with has helped Nyiapock and his relatives to build a new home where they feel safe. Nyiapock is a baker and he gets up very early in the morning to make bread. He makes 600 loaves every day for the people in his community so they are able to eat every day. Nyipock says his faith is very strong and he goes to church every Sunday.
Christian Aid collection boxes were brought in and the money collected will go to support this and other Christian Aid projects. If you still have a box, please bring it in to the November Saturday Church.
A challenge was set to write a poem or prayer, making each sentence start with a different letter to spell out BREAD.
Charlotte made a good effort:
Bring us hope where there is none;
Remind us of your love;
Everlasting you shall be.
Always you will be there no matter where I am.
Dear Lord,that is all we ask of you. Amen
The collection boxes and envelopes raised £67.51 for the Christian Aid harvest appeal.
At the November Saturday Church (15th November) our theme is “A Bright Light” and we will be welcoming Jesus as Light of the World and learn how Jesus wants to be a friend to all. We always enjoy craft activities, singing together and hearing a Bible story. The refreshments are excellent too!
It seems a bit late to be talking up Harvest Festivals, but there seems always more to be explored. One way of exploring further is to talk about the harvest of our commerce and industry, but I would like to stick with our traditional agricultural harvest.
Even if you are a Townie you will be more thoughtful about your way of life if you understand something of the contribution farmers make to human well-being. You will be encouraged to think more about what you eat, and appreciate the effort that goes into food production. You will appreciate better that town and country are interdependent, and that more generally individuals and communities depend on each other. Given that these days our food comes from all over the world, you will be reminded of our international interdependence, and issues to do with FairTrade. Harvest is also a lesson in vulnerability, as the success of the harvest is dependent on the weather and other factors, even if human ingenuity mitigates the worst effects. The fact that harvest produce goes to those who are most in need in our local communities is a reminder of our social obligations.
There is great beauty in a church decorated for Harvest, reminding us of the lilies which neither toil or spin, but are so beautiful that “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27), and demonstrating the beauty of nature generally. Big thanks, by the way, to those who made our church look so attractive.
As you read this, you may be thinking of another kind of Harvest: the Harvest of Souls. As a favourite harvest hymn puts it: “For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take his harvest home” and that at that time will “all be safely gathered in, free from sorrow, free from sin”. Traditionally the Church thinks of this at the time of All Souls (2 November each year). This Harvest too is something to celebrate, even if for now, to quote another hymn, “other helpers fail, and comforts flee” and “change and decay in all around I see”.