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Parish Magazine Article - October 2023

Dean of Hereford The Very Revd Sarah Brown with Hereford cathedral in background


Hoorah!! It is harvest time again!! There you are, hurtling through the lanes in your car on some mission of huge national importance, muttering venomously at cyclists in helmets shaped like wasps’ bottoms, inconsiderate enough to want a bit of your road, rounding a bend and coming up behind the ponderous majesty of a tractor and trailer. On closer inspection over the next ten minutes you conclude that it is actually a convoy of three tractors and two trailers and the glory of the aforementioned ponderous majesty begins to wear a bit thin! Hoorah. It is harvest time again. And I would wager a considerable sum that most of you do not at this point start singing songs of everlasting thanks and praise to our great God for his generous provision, or blessing the farmers for the work they do to put food on our plates!

So here is your challenge for harvest and beyond. I’ve learned to do it and if I can manage it anyone can. If you get stuck on your travels behind a tractor or a combine or a plough or any other mysteriously shaped implement of the sod, (by which I mean, of course, the soil!) take it as an opportunity for reflection, for thanksgiving and for praise.

Why should you bother? Firstly, because praising God for what he gives us should become a matter of habit in all of us and secondly because as a nation we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the farmers who are taken totally for granted by most of us who have become emotionally and practically detached from the source of our food.

We cannot and must not take national food security as a given. Climate change and population growth mean that it is more difficult to produce enough grain for the world’s needs. The situation in Ukraine is calamitous for the food security of millions in vulnerable nations. Global markets will sell to the highest bidder regardless of need. Political mismanagement and the power of global enterprise in the inherently local business of food production are putting countless family farms out of business.

So when you get stuck behind that tractor take a deep breath, smile and wave at the farmer, even if he does stare back at you with blank amazement and ask for God’s blessing on his family and work. Reflect on our corporate relationship to food and the land as the God given source of all our well-being and praise God from whom all blessings flow.

And if the vicar rushes in late to take your service on a Sunday morning you will understand why!

Happy harvest to you all. I hope to see some of you at your harvest service.

Dean Sarah

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