PASTORAL LETTER

from the minister

Rev. Jane Wild

Dear all,

As I write, I am watching the swallows gather on the telephone wires for their annual migration near the house we are visiting. It is quite a spectacle and is one of the wonders of creation. British swallows spend their winter in South Africa: they travel through western France, across the Pyrenees, down eastern Spain into Morocco, and across the Sahara. Some birds follow the west coast of Africa avoiding the Sahara, and other European swallows travel further east and down the Nile Valley. They return to Europe in April and May. Migrating swallows cover 200 miles a day, mainly during daylight, at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour. The maximum flight speed is 35 mph. How they navigate this distance is the subject of speculation. What is clear is that migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms.

Harvest is a time of celebration traditionally when we look to thanking God for the amazing things that grow and the great gifts of creation. We celebrate things that we know about, the growth of food, plants and animals and the mysteries of creation, like the migration navigation of swallows.

We rejoice that it is all from God. Psalm 104:14-21 puts it like this. "You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rabbits. You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out."

It is right and proper at harvest that we celebrate the bounty of creation The difficulty we have as Christian people is that we are aware of the places and situations where harvest means something different. Just as the miracle of migration has the risks of survival so the bounty of God's creation has a vulnerability for many of the world's population. A good or bad harvest is literally a matter of life and death.

So we face a situation where we hold together celebration with concern, prayers of thanksgiving with petition for the suffering, learning about the joy of abundance and education about the needs of others. Through these things we grow to be better stewards of the glory of Godís world.

God Bless,

Jane