As our countryside and our green spaces turned brown this summer, I began to wonder if this would be the year when nature would fail and the land would let us down; maybe the earth was starting to pay us back for the way we mistreat it.
But God is good, and sure enough, the ‘soft refreshing rain’ arrived – some of it not so soft – and once again we see the miracle around us of brown and dry places turning lush and green.
This year Archbishop Sentamu has asked us to refresh our celebration of God’s generous provision, and he’s asked that during harvest-tide every church uses one of two outline services provided to your vicar, rector or priest-in-charge.
As God provides for us, so we accept from him the duty of providing for each other. This time of abundance and harvest is a good time of year for each of us to review how we share what we have with our own Christian family, and in turn for each local church to review the Free Will Offer we make to the Diocesan Common Fund—that’s the ‘pot’ which supplies the housing and stipend costs for many of our clergy.
Archbishop Sentamu has asked every church to send its Free Will Offer for 2019 to him by the 12th October this year. (www.dioceseofyork.org.uk/freewilloffer)
As God sustains us, so a part of our vision as a diocese is about reaching a place where our parish finances become sustainable and money is no longer a stumbling block in the path of God’s mission.
Again, it strikes me that harvest is a wonderful backdrop for this month’s announcement of our new Diocesan Team for Generous Giving and Stewardship who will be making their presence felt very soon; you can meet Jo, David and Sammi next month.
My prayer for them and for us all is that this harvest-tide will bear fruit in commitment to the mission in which we are partners together, and above all in gratitude to God: ‘The winds and waves obey Him, by Him the birds are fed; Much more to us, His children, He gives our daily bread.’