October 2013

When a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it causes a tornado in Texas

Well, perhaps not directly or all the time, but people can be affected by what goes on a long way away, and that can even have results here. Let me give you an example. The Chinese economy is not growing as fast as it recently did: as a result, the Chinese are cutting back on luxury imports: one of those imports is lamb: their major lamb supplier is New Zealand: New Zealand therefore has to export its lamb elsewhere: much of it is coming to Britain: the price of lamb in the supermarkets therefore drops: the amount ewes and lambs make in sales also drops. This is happening now.

There is always a temptation for humans to look inward and look backward. Harvest time is a period when this in particular can happen. It is absolutely understandable that we should look back on the year and celebrate all that the land in this area has brought forth, especially when this has been such a good summer. And it is right that we should do this at Harvest Thanksgiving Services for if we cannot give thanks at times like this, then we are treating all that God gives us as out due. These are indeed important occasions and I am always so very grateful for all the work that goes is to making them truly memorable.

But the Church of God should never look inwards and backwards, but always outwards and to the future, and Harvest time should be no exception to that. So as we celebrate how this year has gone so much better for those involved in agriculture here, I fear that we cannot blind ourselves to the fact that for countless millions elsewhere in the world, the picture is infinitely grimmer.

Can I make a suggestion? Could we aim to try to make next year’s harvest a better one not just for this community but also for a community in a distant country? It would, I feel, be a proper exercise in thanksgiving that we do not just celebrate our own harvest but that we help others to celebrate theirs.

We are, as I pointed out at the top, at the mercy of events taking place far a way over which we can have no control: it would be so good if we could affect the lives of a community elsewhere for their good. A small act of charity from the Black Mountains could cause, not a tornado, but at least a breath of fresh air somewhere far away.