Alton Webteam: October 2017
During October, we enjoyed celebrating harvest and thanking God for the abundance of good things we enjoy.
After the harvest, there is no better sight than that of the tractor and plough turning over fresh soil, a flock of birds circling above and the farmer planting seed for next year's crop.
The popular harvest hymn 'We plough the fields and scatter' was originally written not by a farmer but by a newspaper man in Germany who goes by the name of Matthias Claudius (1740-1815). I was reading that he was the son of a church pastor who found that his faith was slipping away after rubbing shoulders with some of the leading philosophers of the day. They taught that man was the master of his own destiny, in control of his own life and that there was no longer any need to have faith in God. I guess it was a way of saying 'we are all grown up now, self-sufficient and don't need religion'!
Matthias became very ill and in the crisis of ill health began to rethink his values and in turn rekindle his faith. He realised that he was not the master of his own destiny and that his life was indeed dependent upon God. At the age of 40 he set out to write a poem that depicted friends coming home to enjoy a feast. In this poem he felt able to share his belief that whilst we enjoy the fruits of our labour it is ultimately God who makes all things grow, he brings the increase, and to him we are invited to give our grateful thanks.
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above;
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
For all his love.
This hymn was written many years ago but its message is just as relevant for us today. Whilst we live in a land of plenty we too are invited to make room in our hearts for God and especially through the Harvest Services to come together and give him thanks and praise for his provision and love.
Brian Wren has written a modern version of this hymn to illustrate its unchanging message:
We plough the fields with tractors,
With drills we sow the land;
But growth is still the wondrous gift
Of God's almighty hand.
We add our fertilizers
To help the growing grain;
But for its full fruition,
It needs God's sun and rain.
Every blessing, Philip.
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