On October 12th I led the short service at Berwick Grange Methodist Homes for the Aged at 11am. We began worship when we sang ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!’ I led prayers of praise and thanksgiving, confession, a short prayer of intercession and the Lord’s Prayer. I read Luke 17.11-19 before we sang, ‘Now thank we all our God’. I then did a short talk, acting out the story of Jesus on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples and they were on the border between Galilee and Samaria when they saw 10 men suffering from a skin disease. They were standing a little way off from Jesus and his disciples and called out to Jesus, asking him to have pity on them. Jesus saw their need and told them to show themselves to the priest. On their way one of them realised that he had been healed. He gave glory to God and returned to give thanks to Jesus and he was a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans kept apart from each other, but there would have probably been Jews among the sick men; as they were outcasts because of their illness and found comfort in being together. Jesus wondered where the other nine healed men were as they had not come to give thanks to God. Was it only the foreigner, a Samaritan, who wanted to give thanks to God? Jesus told the man to get up and go as his faith has made him well. Do we remember to say thank you to God for his answers to prayers and each day? Do we say thank you to those who help us? Do we say grace before meals and give thanks after meals for God’s provision? Help us to be thankful for our food, home and family.
Worship concluded when we sang, ‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds’. I went round and touched each person wishing them God’s blessing. I had noticed that those who did not communicate still sang the familiar music.
On Thursday October 13th we had the Harvest Service of our Guild in the Chapel. We all brought produce for our harvest gifts; I bought a selection of fruit and took some apple and blackberry sponges from my garden produce too. We sang, ‘To thee O Lord our hearts we raise’ before Margaret read Psalm 8. Rosemary led the prayers. Lynn co-ordinated worship and told us that harvest had been celebrated since Pagan times. Farmers used to make bread for the church to use in communion until Henry 8th left the Roman Catholic Church so he could divorce his unproductive wife. There used to be harvest meals for the workers who received their wages at the end of harvest. There used to be a harvest supper held on Michaelmas day. Goose fairs are still held. When I was at Nottingham University I can remember the Goose Fair and the lace made in Nottingham back in the early seventies. Harvest as we know it today was invented in the mid 1940’s by Robert Steven Hawker, a vicar in Cornwall. He was an eccentric man, who talked to the birds and even excommunicated his cat for killing a bird on Sunday! He also had a pet pig. Vegetables, flowers, fruit and bread were soon accepted everywhere, as we celebrate harvest today. We sang an old harvest hymn, ‘Bringing in the sheaves’.
Lynn told another anecdote of a priest who was preaching on the Sunday and his 6 year old son exclaimed; ‘Oh no, not daddy again!’ I do not remember much of my father’s preaching, except later in life, as I was only 6 when he gave up parish ministry and became an itinerant spiritual counsellor for clergy and other church members. My four elder siblings David, my late sister Margaret, Selwyn and Janet who had their teens at Coniston Cold would remember more of my father’s preaching I am sure.
As a local preacher I can see the members of the congregation but only recognise visitors in my own chapel. Nodding can mean that people have dozed off or that the congregation are agreeing with what we preach. Apparently a lady at the Harvest evening service at Bilton Area Chapol shouted out that she did not agree with the preacher Gordon Lister; a member of the choir told the lady to shut up!!
We sang ‘We thank you Lord for this fair earth’ before a poem called ‘Nature’s Wonderland’ was read. We sang, ‘All things praise thee, Lord, most high.’
Lynn talked about trailing ivy as a prelude to discussing John Wesley’s rural remedies, as he travelled 5000 miles a year and preached 15 sermons a week; sore feet could be helped when rubbed with ivy leaves apparently. We sang ‘Summer suns are glowing’ and Lynn read a poem she found in church in a village in Devonshire near Chatsworth. The poem was called ‘I’ve been coming here on Sundays’ by Barbara Robinson. It was a description of a woman who kept on going to church despite the changes of vicar and different types of worship which came and went. It was poignant and funny. We sang ‘For the beauty of the earth’ before Lynn read a poem, ‘Welcome the harvest, the season of plenty,’ by Iris Heseltine. We sang ‘Hear us O Lord from heaven thy dwelling place.’
On Thursday evening I went to the Church council meeting which was quite a long meeting.
On Friday I was at the Acorn centre helping a student find jobs online. On Saturday and Sunday Beth helped by walking Piper. I joined her and her puppy Chase with Piper first for a chat and a drink and a bit of a walk on the Saturday. My beloved walks out with me and Piper most evenings except when Beth walks Piper. Our lives are so enriched by sharing our lives with Piper who is so loving, welcoming and forgiving. He just makes us feel important.