As I write this article the Moon is full and very bright – it’s the Harvest Moon. Less than a century ago Childwall was mostly fields and the Harvest Moon must have been a ‘God send’ to aid the harvest. Celebrating with a Harvest Festival must have been a very joyous time!
As a well-known Harvest hymn says:
Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home!
The Harvest Festival is not a specifically Christian event of course – it dates back to pagan times.
Although Childwall no longer has any farmland, St David’s still holds an annual Harvest Festival Service. This years’ service is at 10:30am on Sunday 9 October 2016.
At the end of October, we draw together two festivals of the Christian Year: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. These two days fall midweek but we celebrate them on Sunday 30 October at 10:30am.
All Saints’ Day celebrates the lives of all the saints, known and unknown. All Souls’ Day commemorates the faithful departed, in particular our relatives.
These two celebrations are the origin of ‘Halloween’ – Holy Evening. Without sounding like a killjoy, the celebration of Halloween has now been hijacked by the meaningless Americanism of ‘trick-or-treat’.
On Saturday 29 October 2016, Messy Church celebrates Halloween with the theme of light. At the time of year when the days are short and the nights long, light is both practical and also a symbol of our Christian faith. In St John’s Gospel, Jesus says:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
As we move to the beginning of a new Christian year, starting on Advent Sunday (27 November 2016), the theme of light becomes ever more relevant as we move to the season of Christmas.
‘Light’ is most powerfully and beautifully used at the beginning of St John’s Gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
I’m writing this article having completed the interviews for the new Vicar of St David‘s Church Childwall. By the time this edition of Messenger is published and you are reading it, the name of our new Vicar will be public knowledge but at this time it is still confidential and I can’t reveal it here.
Since the retirement of the Rev’d Robert Williams we have been in a period known as ‘Interregnum’ (a fancy church term for the interval between one Vicar leaving and another arriving). It’s been a very interesting time with so many people coming forward to lead our church, take on duties, and generally live out their Christian discipleship in service to others without fuss or seeking acknowledgement.
We can look forward to another new beginning in 2017 with the arrival of our new Vicar. More about this in a future Messenger. In the meantime, pray that God will continue to direct and guide us in all we do in God’s name in our community of Childwall.
Please join with me by saying this prayer:
‘Almighty God, you have given your Holy Spirit to the Church to lead us into all truth. Keep us steadfast in faith and united in love, that we may show your glory and prepare the way of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.’
(This article was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in October 2016)