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St John & St Mark Church, Bury

Message For The Month

   October 2017

As many of you will know, I was born and brought upon the Isles of Scilly. In my childhood the economy of the islands was largely based on early spring flowers and potatoes. The tourist based economy of today was in its infancy. My father was a flower and potato grower. He also kept pigs, chickens and the occasional heifer. My mother worked alongside him – bunching flowers, keeping the books, raising children! As I grew up I was expected to help out as well – joining my Dad in the fields and helping to pack flowers into boxes to send to market. We all contributed to the family business. The well-being, success or failure, of the family finances depended on all of us – though it has to be said, mostly on my Dad! Dad was a seven days-a-week, all hours of daylight, worker. His work ethic was amazing and, I have to say, gave me a great example to follow.     

Of course, as is the case in such business, despite all the effort put in, there were other factors governing success/failure – particularly the weather and the vagaries of the market. I can remember times when flowers were ready in perfect condition to go to market – the market was the old Covent Garden in London – but a winter storm prevented the ferry sailing. Flowers are not a commodity to be kept waiting – no cool transport facilities back then! All the effort came to nothing! But, although Dad would be very frustrated, even angry, at such an occurrence, he would still be up next morning and off to put in the effort and to use the time and abilities he had to work for our harvest. A harvest which was a means to an end – essentially providing food and shelter for his family.     

Jesus often used examples of those working on the land in his parables/teaching. Harvest is mentioned throughout Scripture. When teaching about the Kingdom of God Jesus told his followers that the fields are ripe for harvest (John 4:35); and when sending them out to spread the word of God he said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few (Luke 10:2).

As we look around the world in our time do we not see a plentiful harvest for God’s Kingdom? Do we not see so many in need; so many not able to live at peace; so many seeking answers? Do we not see a harvest ripe and waiting to be gathered and brought into the Kingdom? Don’t you think that God, our Heavenly Father, wants to reap this harvest; to care and provide for his family; to see his family grow and come to know him?

We are Jesus’ followers today and we are the ones who are called to be the workers in the harvest – even if we are few!  

In order to reap a harvest my Dad had to give his time, his labour, his ability and invest his finance into his business.  He was a steward – a person who managed what he had to produce a desired result. You could say that he practised stewardship!     

Jesus calls on us to be stewards - to use what we have to produce a harvest for the business we are in; and that is the business of the Kingdom of God. There will be times when, despite our best efforts, we will be met with disappointments and frustrations. Those will be the times when we should particularly support and encourage each other and look to Jesus to seek what may be a new way forward. 

This month we will give thanks at our annual harvest services for all that we have been given – and may be, as a sign of our gratefulness, present a gift that can be given to those less fortunate. We are also holding a stewardship campaign. A time for all of us to think about – and act upon – our contribution to the business of God’s Kingdom.

May God grant us all grateful hearts and His Spirit to guide us in our decision making for the advancement of His Kingdom.

Nigel.