A regular autumn fixture for our churches and community is a celebration of harvest. The first weekend in October sees various events including special All Age services in both churches, a cream tea in Chilton and a special lunch in Harwell – more information about these on the front page. We rightly celebrate and give thanks for the plentiful and varied food that we enjoy. But we also think about and seek to provide for those for whom food is not so bountiful, by collecting for those in need locally via Didcot Emergency Foodbank and further afield through the work of Tear Fund.
We have a great debt of gratitude to all those who work the land and are involved in that grand chain of events and processes that brings food to our tables. Our farmers work hard in soil preparation and enrichment, pest control, and helping to ensure just the right climate and mix of nutrients necessary for germination, growth, and the eventual harvesting, storage and effective transportation of the crop.
But of course there would be no harvest without sowing. No crop without seed.
Seeds, though humble in appearance, are quite amazing if you stop to think about them. Packed into a tiny space is all the genetic information and machinery necessary to grow a mature, food-bearing plant, which itself produces more seeds. Seeds, when supplied with the right environment, spring into life in a way that can seem almost miraculous.
Jesus spoke of God’s Word as being like a seed that is sown – with the potential to grow and produce a great crop. We know that the success of any seed depends on the environment into which it is sown, and that is true of the seed of God’s Word. The growth of seeds can – amongst other things – be thwarted by stony ground or choked by weeds. Each of us provides a different environment in which the Word of God is sown and there are many things that can impede its growth and fruitfulness, such as a superficial understanding, or distraction by other concerns.
The Bible is God’s Word for us, and it should therefore have pride of place not just on the shelf, but in our lives, as we ‘read, mark, learn and inwardly digest’ the deep truths, promises and encouragements we find. Christians hear the Bible read and explained in Sunday services, they meet together to study it, and they read and reflect on it individually. And there are many resources for those who wish to grow in faith through studying the Bible. The Mission Focus this month is the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) which produces material to assist those who want to be ‘fertile soil’ for the seed of God’s Word – check the back page for more information about BRF.
The universe was created by the Word of God when God spoke the universe into being. The Word of God continues to speak life into being when it finds the fertile soil of hearts that are open to God and ready to produce a harvest of righteousness.
“The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop”
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton