Category Archives: Articles

Reaping the Rewards as we Praise the Provider

Most of us in Redbourn aren’t directly involved in ploughing, sowing and gathering crops and so I think that the first thing we should do at Harvest is to give thanks for those who do this work for the benefit of us all. The hours can be long, the work can feel never-ending and the uncertainties many and so we should spare a thought for the many farmers in our community as we give thanks for their dedication and skill in producing the abundance and variety of food we can enjoy.

But as we do this, I know that many farmers carry out this work with great sensitivity and an awareness that balance, nature and the environment must be honoured and respected in what they do. Many would see this as about a partnership with nature and creation. It points beyond themselves, and beyond ourselves, to the source of all that we enjoy – to Almighty God.

I was struck by this quote I came across recently:

The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

James Allen

I think it says a number of helpful things at this time of Harvest. It speaks of our own connectedness and that our actions, in farming as in all of life, have their fruits. For those of us not involved in agriculture and farming Harvest might be a time to consider what sorts of things we sow, how we are generous and what we are growing in terms of nurture, care and support for those around us.

As we celebrate Harvest, it is traditional to think beyond ourselves and we will be doing this in several ways. We will be delivering little Harvest Hampers and posies of flowers to some of the older members of our community who perhaps can’t make it to church for our Harvest celebrations. We will also be collecting tins and dry goods to support DENS, our local food bank. A list of the items they need can be found here.

And finally, and further afield, we will be collecting money for the Bishop of St Alban’s Harvest appeal. This year the appeal is supporting rural communities in the Philippines with resources to grow a variety of crops and it will make a real difference to their health, welfare and education.

This Harvest, I hope that all we sow and do will be fruitful and generous,

Will

Something About Mary

We start our return from the holidays with an important birthday. On the 8th September the Church celebrates the birthday of the Mother of Jesus, Mary. As she is the patron saint of our parish church we like to celebrate this occasion with a party on the nearest Sunday (this year 10th Sept). With an 11am Eucharist followed by a BBQ and music from Redbourn Jazz Band, we hope that there is more than enough to suit all tastes, and that you will accept our invitation to come and join the party. Whether you come to church each week or have a love of jazz you are all very welcome.

Yet I can understand how it can seem contradictory to celebrate the birth of the one who would bring Jesus Christ into the world, a moment of God’s presence with us, when we look out in the world and far too often see that God seems absent. ‘Patience with God: the Story of Zacchaeus continuing in us’ by the Czech theologian – priest Tomas Halik raises this very question too. Rather than believing that this absence is evidence that there is no God, and instead of coming up with an over-simplistic ‘solution’, he suggests that we need to be more patient in confronting the mystery of God.

A key character of Mary is patience. We see this time and time again throughout her life, as she witnessed and was at times central to, God acting in the world in a new way. She does not try to fully understand every detail before she says yes to God, perhaps she knows she cannot. Instead she ponders what she says in her heart: she is patient.

There are lots of things in the world that we do not understand. Something things we might say we just don’t know, others that they are a mystery. As Christians, we believe that it is not possible for us to know everything about God: God is by nature a mystery. Instead, we must learn to live with mystery; something that cannot be overcome or solved. Like Mary, we must ponder these things on our hearts and learn to be patient with God. This patience is not passive or silent, but attentive, open minded, outward looking and collaborative. As we know from Mary, it is also life changing. I think the Church has a lot of learn here.

Perhaps, whatever labels we might give ourselves in terms of our religious affiliation, we could try to embrace this feeling of uncertainty and mystery and follow Mary’s example and ponder these things, the good and the bad, in our hearts. Then perhaps together we could say yes like Mary and change the world for the better, together.

Tim

‘Always we begin again’

‘Always we begin again’. So wrote St Benedict, a 6th century monk whose monastic rule was lived out in our village for over 400 years at Redbourn Priory. This phrase came to mind as I was reflecting on my time in Redbourn where I have been living, working and serving this community for over one year. This has been a year which has included some wonderful community events such as the Living Advent Calendar, the Christmas Market and the Pancake Party at Coffee on the Common. Yet for many it may have been a year of personal tragedy and change. As we come to the end of a cycle in the village and churches year it’s refreshing to know that whatever kind of year we have had, we can always begin again each day afresh with God.

For some of us, the last year may or so may have been a year we wish could literally be started again, with Brexit and an uncertain General Election all casting a shadow of uncertainty over what the future might hold. There may also be many personal challenges which we may have had to overcome, whether in our personal relationships, our health or something else. For others, the last year may have been a really positive experience, both personally and nationally.

What would St Benedict have to say about all that is happening in our country and world today, I wonder? St Benedict lived at a time of massive change and upheaval, including the break-up of the Roman Empire and the loss of a common identity. In response Benedict sought to create communities which had listening and balance at their heart with obedience, stability and conversion of life, as their 3 main vows. At the centre of this way of life, was and is a way of life grounded in Christ. In this he provided an alternative to all the change and uncertainty in the world around him. That’s why his rule is still used and practiced throughout the world today, with our nearest Benedictine community located in Turvey in Bedfordshire (and open to visits too).

It is refreshing to know that whatever kind of year we have had, it is always possible to begin again. To start afresh and try to live with the attitude of ‘always we begin again’. Every day will have opportunities to get things right and to be positive, no matter what has come before.

Tim