News for Sunday 10th October: Harvest Thanksgiving

News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th October 2021: The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Our Harvest Thanksgiving

To many people, the idea of celebrating a Harvest Thanksgiving in the suburbs of London may seem rather bizarre: after all, harvest is all about gathering in the crops from the fields and thanking God for the fruits of our labours, isn't it? Well it wasn't so long ago that Kenton was a rural community itself, made up of farmland and muddy tracks, which have been replaced with residential estates and where main roads now carry more traffic than was ever envisaged when they were first planned. Just 100 years ago, a herd of dairy cattle used to graze in the fields off Kenton Lane; and it has only been in the last 20 years that Brazier's Dairy has moved from that site. The expansion of the Underground railway brought London commuters out of the city and into the leafy suburbs of Brent and Harrow. How things have changed!

But Harvest Thanksgiving is not just about cutting and storing grain to feed us over the winter months; it's about thanking God for all the good things we have, and finding ways to share our bountiful generosity with those who are less fortunate. The Covid pandemic has hit some families really hard these past 18 months. Some people who had been placed on furlough have now been made redundant. Many businesses, particularly those in hospitality, are not yet hiring additional staff as we have not got back to our 'normal' routines (whatever that may be). Some single parents cannot afford childcare and therefore cannot be gainfully employed. There are many people in similar situations. Last year the Trussell Trust (who oversee the work of many of the foodbanks, including our local one in Harrow) provided 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis. That's why, once again, we are supporting the Harrow Foodbank as our nominated recipient of our Harvest gifts. These are the top items that are currently needed:
Washing Powder/Detergent, Children's Toothbrushes and Toothpaste; Baby Wipes; Nappies (Size 5); Men's Body Wash and Shaving Foam; Instant/Packet Mashed Potato; Tinned Tomatoes; Marmalade; Honey; Sponge Puddings; Pasta Sauce; Macaroni Cheese (tinned); Irish Stew (tinned); Fray Bentos Pies; Noodles … there are fuller lists on the Foodbank Posters. Please contribute, or alternatively you can make a donation online

Jesus gives us a clear direction on what we must do to inherit the Kingdom of God. In the Good News according to Mark that we will be hearing this weekend, Jesus says: “Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” This is indeed a challenge that many of us would find hard to do. Jesus continues: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God.” Once more our journey of Christian discipleship is challenged. Even the disciples were alarmed and astounded. But this is not only aimed at the most wealthy in our society. We all have some wealth (albeit a roof over our heads and food on the table). Are we willing to share what we do have with those who have even less? The widow's offering, which Jesus relates later in Mark's Gospel is a worthy example: “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

This month's Prayer Case of the Month from Harrow ACAT is Valentina Chupik, a human rights activist detained by the Russian authorities for speaking out against unjust practices. Giving part of our wealth is one thing, but giving up our freedom to speak out for the rights of other members of God's family is giving at a totally different level!

The first Mass of Sunday is on Saturday 9th October at 6.00pm. Parish Mass is on Sunday 10th October at 10.30am. Both of these are opportunities to bring our Harvest offerings, which we will then take to the Harrow Foodbank.

Enjoy the last verse of “We plough the fields and scatter”
“We thank thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer for all your love imparts,
With what we know you long for: Our humble, thankful hearts.

David Griffiths