AROUND this time of year, many churches and chapels celebrate Harvest Festival when we give thanks for God's provision of our material needs, especially food to eat.

We give thanks too for the gift and beauty of creation and remind ourselves that we are called to be stewards of the world around us.

Harvest Suppers are often held and these remind us that thanksgiving for the harvest is a community celebration. 

Harvest Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when people gather to thank God for a good harvest.

The origin of the festival, as we know it today, isn’t that distant.

If it hadn’t been for a Victorian vicar in Cornwall, there probably wouldn’t be harvest thanksgivings in any of our churches.

The Rev Robert Stephen Hawker, for 41 years Vicar of Morwenstow on the wild north Cornish coast, is said to have initiated the modern Harvest Festival.

He was regarded as somewhat eccentric... he once excommunicated his cat for mousing on a Sunday... but he has left us an important legacy. 

Harvest is also a time for us to pause and to give thanks for those who produce our food, sometimes under difficult conditions and dependent on the weather and other factors beyond their control.

It is also a time to spare a thought for those organisations who support our farming community, such as The Farming Community Network (formerly The Farming Crisis Network) and The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution – and if you felt so inclined, to send a donation towards their work!

So, I encourage us to reflect on the good things we have received, on our farmers who produce our food, and on people who are in real need, and to use this time of Harvest to share our blessings with others.

The Rev Preb Matthew Tregenza

Rector of Holy Cross, Crediton