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Registered Charity No. 1178660

October 2019

Dear Friends,

‘What do you say?’ I was asked many times when I was young. The answer depended on the context: what I had to say was ‘please’ or ‘thank’ you’. Please is easier, because I hope I’ll get what I want. Saying thank you was harder to remember since I then had what I asked for.

Many churches keep Harvest Festival around this time of the year. Let’s give it it’s proper name - Harvest Thanksgiving. While there may be only limited relevance to us town-dwellers in celebrating the fact that, having ‘ploughed the fields and scattered the good seed on the ground’, and all is now ‘safely gathered in ’ere the winter storms begin’, there is a huge relevance in raising our voices to ‘thank the Lord for all his love’.

Always go on singing and chanting to the Lord in your hearts, so that always and everywhere you are giving thanks to God - that is St Paul’s instruction, an instruction echoed in the words which begin the great prayer of thanksgiving which lies at the heart of the Eucharist - It is truly right, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks. That is easy enough when things are going well, when the sun is shining, there is food in abundance, our health is good. The test is being able to keep it up, to continue always and everywhere ho give thanks to God when things are going wrong, when you are wet or cold or lost, when the rains have not come and the harvest has failed again, when each day is a struggle to keep arthritic joints moving or fears and sorrows at bay.

The very centre of our Christian life is the celebration of the Eucharist (and that title, you remember, means ‘thanksgiving’), our celebration and commemoration of the death of Jesus: we are able to celebrate because Jesus suffered and died, and his suffering and death is the victory over the power of suffering and death in our own lives. It is, again you remember, with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven that we raise our voices in thanksgiving, for even during our lives on this earth, our lives which inevitably involve us in suffering and distress, the fact is that we are citizens of heaven (St Paul’s words again). It is recorded of St Dominic that when he travelled through dangerous and difficult countryside, through flood and storm and the threat of murder, his reaction was to sing loudly! However dark the day, it is right and fitting for us, too, to remember to lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God.

Fr. Roger