For some the months of July and August give an opportunity to travel at a slower pace, indeed if you are on the A35 a very much slower pace! I hope those who have had a holiday have enjoyed their break; and those receiving exam results have seen their hard work rewarded.
During September and October we continue to enjoy being shaped by the stories and parables of Jesus. We still have time to think through our response to the story of salvation, before the Seasons of All Saints and Kingdom, Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter begin again.
Thinking how much I have appreciated a slightly slower pace in August brought me back to one of my favourite books, In a Country Parson’s Shoes (SKEFFINGTON) 1954. It offers the reader “a peaceable habitation...and a quiet resting place”.
In September and October our worshipping communities celebrate Harvest. This short extract (written in language of the time) highlights three related festivals that Monkton Church community have already kept: highlighting how our concern for the rural church and environmental issues cannot be contained by any one season of the Church.
‘Plough Sunday’, usually the first Sunday after Epiphany, is often kept by the labourers: it is the day when a plough is brought into the church and blessed – symbol of the labour of breaking the earth and sowing the seed. Rogation-tide is of course observed by many, but I know a priest who seems to have made it more real to his parish in a simpler way than many others have down. He told me that on Rogation Sunday, he and his congregation go into the churchyard and, from various vantage points, look out over the village at fields, farms and gardens and the blessing is pronounced on cornfields, pastures, root-crops, animals and gardens. Lammas, or ‘loaf-mass’, on the 1st August, or as near to it as possible, is the offering of the loaf made from the first ripe corn, a symbol of the old feast of the first fruits. And so there comes to be a kind of yearly cycle of ‘God and the countryside’, and the farm-worker is reminded of God four times in the year instead of once at the Harvest Festival.
Canon Thomas Woodhouse
Team Rector of Dorchester and the Winterbournes