What a delight it was to see the creativity on display at Widford Church’s Harvest Festival celebration on Sunday. We thank God for the beauty of the flowers and for making human beings in his image – to be creative as he is.
The St Albans diocesan vision encourages us to Live God’s Love with generosity and joy, imagination and courage. The floral displays (see image gallery below) certainly demonstrated wonderful imagination, and the singing of the harvest hymns (skilfully accompanied by our guest organist) was full of joy. There wasn’t much cause for courage during our worship, but generosity was definitely in view as the congregation gave to support the Bishop of St Albans’ Harvest Appeal, Water is Life. More information on this appeal is available at this link.
Our reading was from the book of the prophet Isaiah:
For as the soil makes the young plant come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.
We prayed with gratitude for all those involved in the food production, distribution and retail industries, and for the work of TEARFund and their partner churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing clean water to communities which are an hour’s walk from the nearest water source. If you would like to support this vital work, please visit our donations page, here.
As well as singing traditional harvest hymns and remembering the farmers in their year-round labours to provide food for our tables, we’re considering the blessing of water. We take this for granted – we turn on a tap and it’s instantly there, purified and safe to drink. But for many around the world, this is not the case.
The Bishop of St Albans’ Harvest Appeal this year, Water is Life, is supporting TEARFund and its partners working in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Life in the DRC is tough. With a history of civil war, widespread poverty and a cycle of conflict and displacement, communities struggle every day. On top of this, more than 70 per cent of the DRC population use unsafe drinking water and so daily encounter the devastatingly high risk of cholera, a preventable disease. The appeal will bring clean water to many more communities in the DRC, bringing with it transformation to daily lives and hope for the future.
If you would like to bring gifts of food, we would be pleased to receive these, too. Fresh fruit and veg will be auctioned at the end of the service (proceeds to the appeal). Packaged goods will be passed on to a local Foodbank.
Please join us to celebrate and to pray, to learn and to give.
All week, I watched the forecast with some trepidation. On Thursday, the outlook was poor for Friday night. “Should I put take a coat or an umbrella on Safari with me?” I wondered.
I needn’t have worried. Friday evening proved to be overcast, but dry and warm – the gamble of holding the event in September instead of June had paid off. As I approached my venue for starters, I could hear the noise of music and happy conversation emanating from the garden. Some fellow travellers were already being treated to the generous hospitality which draws hardened explorers back year after year. There were nibbles, fizz and conversations with old acquaintances as well as the all-important introductions to new friends that the Safari Supper does so well.
After a while, all the guests began to drift off to their different main course venues, where pre-ordered wine, sumptuous food and more new friends awaited. At my table, we talked about paintings, land development and village friends current and long since departed. We learned that hiring a skip may be the easy way to get rid of your rubbish, but if you have the patience and time to find them, there are folk who will gladly pay for what you are throwing out – even incomplete collections of odd screwdrivers and half-used tins of paint! Seconds were served, and even thirds were available – such was the generosity of our hosts. Maybe they were simply ensuring we had sufficient fuel to carry us to the Old Rectory where everyone was to gather for puddings.
As usual at our final venue, there was such a choice of desserts it was difficult to decide what to have, so, like many others, I had a couple of visits to the table, as well as engaging in more conversation with other folk whose paths had not crossed mine till then. There was a great deal of chatting about food that had been consumed earlier in the evening and how lovely all the people were. I was pleased to catch up with some villagers I’ve not seen since the last Safari Supper in 2019 and delighted to meet some brand-new people before the raffle was called and the live music began. I am told that the last of the guests did not find their way home until the small hours, but I left the happy crowds behind at around 11pm, full of food and having enjoyed a very pleasant evening indeed.
Thanks were expressed publicly to those who organised the event and to all the hosts who still had clearing up to face. I sincerely hope they all heard those thanks – the effort they had put in ought not be overlooked. It was a truly wonderful evening, bringing the community together in a simple and delightful way. Roll on next year…