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  • Rev. Caroline

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It is a beautiful October morning (the 11th): the sky is blue, the river is blue, the sun is out and the trees are beginning to don their Autumn colours.

It is a beautiful October morning: the people of Meadowside St Paul’s are gathering for worship for the first time for seven months, the signs are in place, the sanitisers are out and the elders greet each and every one warmly as they gently usher them into the main hall, where today’s service is to take place.

We are celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving, even though we cannot decorate the sanctuary and distribute gifts according to the usual custom.

The boys helped by laying the six items on the table as the prayers were said, as follows:

We lay down these Fair Trade teabags

in thanksgiving for the cuppa that solves a thousand problems

and brings us together in fellowship

and in gratitude for the workers

on farms and in factories

who make this possible from far across the globe

We lay down these potatoes

for the gardeners and farmers

who work the land in all weathers

endure the uncertainties of market prices

and make it possible for us to enjoy the fruits of their labours

We lay down this jam

made from brambles, the wild fruit of the hedgerows

and we give thanks for your creation, Lord

and the creativity of those who take the produce of the land

and make it into something delicious

We lay down this toy boat

to symbolise the container ships which bring us bounty from overseas

and for those who sailed, loaded and unloaded

spending months away from home that we might enjoy variety on our table

We lay down this carrier bag

for the supermarket staff who stack the shelves, process our payments,

and keep working in spite of face coverings, screens and sanitisers

We lay down this oil made from the fruit of the olive tree

by Israeli and Arab women working together

A product which would have been used for cooking and lighting

by the women of the bible

Thank you, Lord, for this sign that prejudice can be overcome

and your people brought together in unity

These things we lay down, dear God

in acknowledgement that we are one world

dependent on one another and above all on you,

our Creator and Sustainer

through Jesus Christ our Lord

who fed the multitudes with a boy’s modest gift of bread and fish

It is true – with you, nothing is impossible

We also lay down our offerings of money for the Church’s work

so that your name might be made known and proclaimed for Jesus’ sake; Amen

The service included another act of thanksgiving: for the three members of the congregation, of whom two were senior elders, who died during the lockdown and whose funerals very few or none of the Church Family were able to attend. We remembered them with fondness and prayed for those closest to them.

We are not yet permitted to sing, but were uplifted by the music carefully chosen by our organist to suit these themes. (And also by the news of our Sole Nominee Anita who will preach in a fortnight’s time.)

No, there was no tea to be served, but there was a sense of fellowship, for which we offer thanks and praise to the Lord.

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