Sunday, September 27, 2015
Morris Dancing and Harvest Festivals? No thank you.
Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity being the parish Harvest Festival.
Apparently, if you didn't know it already Morris Dancing is no longer regarded as quintessentially British. It's not something that is regarded as something British people do any more. However, moaning about the weather remains on the list of typical British actions. Another loss from this list of "thing Britons do" is going to a Harvest Festival.
Perhaps there are places that still do Harvest Festivals. Perhaps somewhere there are churches filled with crates of apples, leeks, carrots and onions, the ubiquitous pumpkin and, wonderful to behold, the harvest loaf. The harvest loaf was always a beautiful piece of bread in the shape of a wheatsheaf often with a little field mouse somewhere on it. Perhaps they still exist. Perhaps Harvest Festivals still happen.
On 10th of May this year, you may remember that we celebrated Rogation Sunday. We had Benediction that Sunday. Rogation Sunday is the day on which we ask God for a good Harvest. Again, this has fallen out of being English. We ask God for a good Harvest, and then thank God for what He gives us.
The fact that this is falling out of English culture does show us something of the people that English folk are becoming. We no longer ask God for a good harvest because we believe that we can control our produce with genetically modified grain, and the right kind of disease resistant crop. We don't have anything to celebrate because the machinery does the job and people get fed.
Yet it is still a fact that we do not control the scale of our harvest. Farmers still know that floods and frosts and droughts and pests can still ruin crops in this country, though perhaps not on the scale that can devastate a culture as we often see on the news. We are not immune from poor harvests, and perhaps God will remind us that we are not immune.
But then, this seems to be the way that we are going. Our society seems to be no longer grateful for what it receives, and yet we receive so much. But then, it seem that society has forgotten who to be grateful to! In this country, we do enjoy good food, and plenty of it. And we are here to say thank you to God for it. Like the tenth leper healed of his disease, we, the Church turn around, look Christ our God in the eye and with joyful heart we say, "thank you!" In so doing we recognise our need for God and that He is good to us, giving us everything that we experience as a gift to bring us closer to Him.
Yet, what is truly sad is that not only has our society seem to have lost its manners in saying please and thank you to God, it has lost the ability to have festivals. We no longer celebrate! We just lift another cream cake to our mouths and consume it without a moment's thought. And so, society loses its capacity for joy! If we,the Church, can ensure that we can cultivate our ability to be joyful in what God does for us, then perhaps those outside the Church will see that joy and want to know where we find it.
Perhaps, somewhere, Rogation Sunday and Harvest Festivals are still kept. Perhaps, somewhere, people remember to ask God for their daily bread and then thank Him for what they receive. Perhaps, somewhere, there are people who have the joy of living with God in their lives. Perhaps, perhaps it's us?