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It is good to be in a country church at harvest time!

September 24, 2016

It is good to be in a country church at harvest time! I look around and feel close to the harvest and the natural rhythms of the earth. I have been able to watch the fields sown, grow, ripen and then be harvested. I can see the sugar beet in the field for later in the year. Before I even look into the fields I just have to look at the changes in the hedgerows. It’s clear that it’s now harvest time because I’ve managed to get a dirty face and stained fingers from the blackberries!

I always get a sense of security when I see ripe fields being harvested. I know we get food from all around the world but the act of seeing food coming in somehow reassures me that there will be food for the future.

But there’s another side too. Leaves fall and get wet making the road slippy as I ride around on my motorbike. Tree branches come down in autumn winds but still I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. I wouldn’t be anywhere else, but I need to remember that the countryside is not a natural idyll set up just for my pleasure. On our crowded island our countryside is all designed by human hand, the woods, the hedges, we even try to control river courses – with mixed results. The countryside is no less managed than the town, there is just more green and more space. The countryside needs to be that way or we would all starve.

I looked at the fields and I only saw the country idyll; that is until I started to really get to know a few farmers. Then I began to learn a little of the joys and sorrows of food production. The hours and the work, and the uncertainty. There are rich farmers but there are also many that are not. And when things go wrong on a farm you can be very isolated indeed.

Figures from Farming Community Network (

  1. One in four farming families are living on or below the poverty line.
  2. The average income for an upland tenant farmer is £8,000 per year.
  3. Debt of tens and hundreds of thousands of pounds is commonplace.
  4. Bovine TB is spreading fast around Britain.  Last year almost 40,000 cattle were slaughtered in Britain in an attempt to arrest the disease.  The effect on farmers and their family is devastating.

What can I do?

  1. I can support the Farming Community Network (FCN). The FCN has a Christian ministry in the farming community, with wonderful volunteers across the UK providing support and help to those who are in difficulty. They are showing the love of God to farming people in a very practical way. I need to consider joining them.
  2. I need to let the farming people that I know, know that they are valued; buy local food; ask FCN to keep me updated on its work;
  3. I need to consider whether I can donate; volunteer; and pray for the farming community and FCN.

So the realities of the world are here in the countryside too. People still need to make a living. After all you can’t eat the scenery!

In the countryside, like in the town, I need to remember Jesus words from Matthew 6.25-34:

I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food or clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?

27 Can worry make you live longer? 28 Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. 29 But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. 30 God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. He will surely do even more for you! Why do you have such little faith?

31 Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?” 32 Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. 33 But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

34 Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.


I need to look at the harvest, my bees and the apples in my garden and give thanks for the abundance all around me. At the same time I need to let the Spirit fill me and free me from the temptation to worry about what might happen tomorrow; will there be enough grain? will grain prices rise and food prices with them? have all the apples been spoiled by wasps? will the bees make it through the winter? All of these whispered questions sneak in under my guard, trying to rob me of the joy of now that God has given to me.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” There are so many problems in the world, and I hope to do as much as I can to reduce them. Last harvestide I planned to contact FCN and see how my rural churches could help. I was snowed under with work and I forgot. So this year I will get in touch. If nothing else I can pray and I can encourage others here to pray.

There are so many problems in this world but I can’t let them act like a wasp or a worm in an apple, eating into your heart, spoiling the blessing. God’s blessings, including the beauty and abundance of harvest, are for us to celebrate. I need to let the colour, smell and texture of the autumn leaves make me smile. As worship of the Creator I vow to do all I can to enjoy all of the wonder of this time of year in this most beautiful of places. I will allow the Spirit to fill my heart so that I become a little more free to trust God; to enjoy and celebrate. I will let the Spirit fill me so you don’t have to worry about tomorrow, what I will eat or wear or anything else. I will bring my worries to God in prayer and leave them there… I wonder how I will get on.

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