Monthly letter from the Clergy
October 2017 - This months letter is from our Rector, Rev Jenny Gray
You know when its Harvest in our villages...cut fields of cereal crops stacked high, allotments brimming with veg, gardens blessed with flowers and fruit... all celebrated in the annual Horticultural and Produce Shows, Church and School Harvest Festivals and Harvest Lunch or Supper. The spirit of Harvest is visible too. Friends, neighbours and strangers sharing the goodness of the season with one another, freely giving away surplus apples, plums and pears, runners beans and marrows, jars of jam and chutney...simple acts of generosity that make both the giver and receiver feel better...a taste of how our world could and should be...another reason I’m grateful to live in this beautiful part of Hertfordshire.
Tragically the News reminds us daily that many millions do not share our plenty. Harvests have been lost in the catastrophic flooding following torrential monsoon rains in SE Asia and the wake of Hurricane Irma. Harvests were never sown in much of war-torn Syria, Nigeria, DRC or Sudan. Harvests are being abandoned by Muslims escaping violence in Myanmar and all the unknown/forgotten homes of refugees and asylum seekers. Increasing number of families in the UK rely on Food Banks and charities. Blame it on the weather, on governments, on poverty and lack of education but a pitiful 800 million people, one in nine of the world’s population, are hungry and chronically under-nourished now in 2017. Surely this is unacceptable. But it needn’t stay this way.
There is good news. World hunger has been halved since 1990 through helping small, mainly rural farmers – men and women - in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia increase productivity. Access to clean water, primary education and basic healthcare is starting to break the cycle of poverty, hunger and ill health. Progress is being made in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger – still the top United Nations Millennium Development Goal. Countless Unicef, Tearfund, Christian Aid Lent and Harvest projects are making a difference – which is why our village churches are supporting the Bishop of St Albans’ ‘full of beans’ harvest appeal to transform rural communities in the Philippines by providing income-generating opportunities (www.harvestappeal.org) as well as the Hertford, Stevenage and Bethnal Green Food Banks. We cannot help everyone, everywhere, but we can make a start.
It’s easy to be generous to neighbours we know. It’s easy to give generously in response to a crisis. But the spirit of Harvest calls us to go the extra mile... to care and to share...to campaign and give long term to those in need, in thankfulness for all we have...‘for it is in giving we receive’(St Francis of Assisi) and ‘no-one has ever become poor by giving’ (Anne Frank).
Jesus says: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food...for as much as you did it to the least of these
my brothers and sisters you did it to me’(Matthew 25).
‘Real Generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out’ (anon).
‘God doesn’t want your careful virtue, He wants your reckless generosity’(Francis Spufford).