In October in the Exmoor Benefice we are in the middle of our celebration of Harvest Festival. Harvest Festival is a wonderful mixture of traditions and has many roots. How we celebrate Harvest Festival today, as with all that we do, requires that we select from our traditions as we attempt to share and promote the ideas we value. Faith today is about having the confidence to believe that our selection points beyond matters of taste and preference to the source of all being, and is in tune with the fabric of creation. This requires of us that we are open to learn from all we meet, from the experience of others with different stories and traditions, different tastes and preferences, so that, together we can build the widest possible perspective, the most loving acceptance, a deeper and deeper sense of the sacred world and in our neighbour. Nothing less that this radical openness to learn cuts it when it comes to speaking about God.
The pre-Christian roots of Harvest Festival are associated with the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox. The Autumn Equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the Celestial Equator, an imaginary line in the sky above the earth’s equator, from north to south. This happens on either September 22nd, 23rd or 24th each year. So in this respect, Cutcombe and Hawkridge are closest to the origins of that aspect of the traditions this year, celebrating their harvests on the 24th September. In Tudor times the festival was held at the beginning of the harvest in early August. By the Victorian era, when Anglican clergy started to make it a church event it had moved to the end of Harvest in September or October. I have been doing some reading and have lots more to tell you at our Harvest events this year.
Harvest is another opportunity to spend time in the beautiful and ancient surroundings of our churches, thinking about beauty, creativity, the people we love and the things which give value and meaning to our lives, As I have written previously, making time for that is a basic practice of the Christian life and has variously been called prayer, meditation, contemplation, mindfulness. Our Harvest events are intended to create the most helpful context, and give a yearly reminder to make time and space for the stillness to be mindful, to contemplate, to pray.
All the best, David