Dear Friends,
Autumn, the season of mellow fruitfulness, is well and truly here: chilly mornings, wet and windy days, interspersed with times of warmth and sun. It is a season of contrasts, and also the time of year when we give thanks for the harvest: usually for food, but of course much else is harvested for us too. There are the resources of the earth: coal and oil, as well as the energy of the sun and the wind that are harvested to give us power. How about the metals and stone that are harvested to make objects, machines and buildings for us? So, we have much to give thanks for, but how often are we really thankful?

One of the realities of this time of year is often that there is so much to do. Summer has ended, the activities of a new term/ academic year/ session are now in full swing and the holiday season is but a dim memory for most. Worse still we are often left wondering what happened to September?! It is certainly an occupational hazard for someone who teaches like myself (as is the tiredness brought on by all of this frenetic activity) except that I know that many of you feel that too!

Perhaps too it is symptomatic of modern life, that there is so much to do, that we find ourselves constantly rushing on to the next thing, without taking time to appreciate what has been done for us. It is certainly not helped by our retail sector placing mince pies on shop shelves at the start of September…!

So, it is right to pause for a moment (and for different moments) to give thanks for what we have been given. For the harvest of food and resources (and aren’t we lucky that we do not have to go and harvest them ourselves) and for their diversity and abundance (although that comes with the caveat of not being greedy, taking too much and spoiling it for others). It is also right to give thanks for the support that we have from others, for relationships and friendships that sustain us, and most of all for God’s love. It is God who gives freely and continuously to us, who provides for our daily needs, and gives far more beside.

Therefore we should give thanks routinely. Sometimes that can seem hard because life’s cares crowd in, with dissatisfaction and even loneliness obscuring how we have been given much. However God gives us something to help with even this, by being our companion on life’s way with Jesus as friend and guide, and the Spirit as helper, as it is said “I am with you always” (Matthew 28, verse 20). We are not alone, and more than that, we are always wanted by our Creator.

Saying thank you is therefore appropriate and necessary. More than this, however, it helps others. When someone thanks us for what we have done it makes us feel good. When we thank others we boost them too. It costs nothing but delivers so much.

So, let us be thankful as people for what God has done for us, and for what continues to be done for us. Let us be thankful too as a Church for what God has done for us; for the safe arrival of Mark and Tessa, for their ministry, as well as opportunities that come our way. Let us give thanks for the ministry that we receive from one another, and let us keep reminding each other how much we, and the positive things that we do, matter.