Earlier this week, Rachel and I went for a walk up the other side of the valley. We’re pretty familiar with the paths around the village and over towards Chipperfield now, but we hadn’t yet ventured across the railway tracks (except for the Easter Monday pilgrimage last April). Despite a few wrong turns, missing one footpath about halfway up Harthall Lane, and some debate over whether another footpath went through Hyde Farm, we enjoyed finding new paths, new fields and new views. The rural idyll wasn’t as quiet as the chocolate box caricature: the harvest was starting, combines cutting their way across the hill sides.
Jesus was a great one for an agricultural image. He often used the idea of a seed to talk about the Kingdom or about faith – in both cases, it may be hidden or tiny, but it has great effects. He also talked directly about the harvest too: ‘The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few’ (Matt. 9.35), ‘Look around you and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting’ (John 4.35), ‘The harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are angels’ (Matt. 13.39). But there is no harvest if the seeds are not planted first. This is one of the ways that Jesus characterised his ministry, as a sower. And, alongside harvesting, it was one of the tasks he left to the apostles and to the early church. St Paul used a similar image when he wrote about how different styles of ministry compliment each other, ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth’ (1 Cor 3.6).
Each of us has a distinctive ministry to offer to the Church and to the community. Some of us will be planters, some waterers and some harvesters. We have different skills, and talents, different ways we can serve, and a unique character to express – the unique person we are, planted in God’s image and nurtured into the likeness of Christ.
Over the summer, as we do every year, we have been encouraging you to be creative with your talents in order to raise extra funds for All Saints. You might be making cakes to sell at the village market, you might be knitting things to sell, you might be offering your services as a gardener for a donation to church. Thank you if you have used your talents to help us raise funds, I hope you have had fun! And if you haven’t had chance yet, the summer is not yet over! I wonder what your talent is and how you could get creative with it?
As well as our talents, time, and skills, we have also been blessed with the resource of our money. And we are called to sow this in generosity too. This weekend you will receive a further letter from me and the Stewardship team which will give more of an outline of our current financial situation. For now, I will say that it is really important for all of us to review our giving. We are unable to hire out the hall or to run fundraising events as we usually would, and this has had a big impact on our ability to meet our running costs. If you have reviewed your giving already since March, thank you. If you haven’t, please can I encourage you to do so? And if you do not yet give regularly to All Saints then please consider doing so. The best way is to give by standing order from your bank account which can be set up online in a few minutes. It’s really important to gift aid your donations if you are a UK taxpayer as we can then claim 25% extra on your gift. For more information about gift aid or to set up a standing order if you’re not online, please contact Eric Martin on 01923 267604. To find out about our bank details to set up your own standing order, or if you have other questions about giving please contact our treasurer Patricia Humberstone: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very aware that not everyone will be able to increase their giving at this challenging time. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are in need of any extra support. But for those of you who are able to, your generosity enables us to sow and water and nurture and harvest in this corner of God’s vineyard (to slightly blend my metaphors!): your generosity in financial giving as well as in your time and talents. I am very grateful for what each of you does and for the Church family we belong to.
With my love and prayers for you,
All Saints Vicarage,
The Feast of the Transfiguration Thursday 6th August 2020
This week at All Saints:
9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube
11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)