What I love about Autumn is that we get the first inklings of it during September, and then there is a period of fulfilment, full of glory, colour, fruitfulness and sharply cold air, followed by the mud and rain that made the poet Pushkin long for winter. It is a time of nesting, of preparation, but also of dying back and the clearing of the ground.This morning it was a time of mist and coldly sharp sun – Lodge Lake, pictured here on my way to work, had its first cold morning mists and yet the clear sky brought every tree and ripple into the sharpest of relief.
Today we celebrated harvest festival at school – a group of very up-for-it Year 5 children volunteered to do the music and the readings and we had a super 45 minutes of celebration that seemed to anchor Harvest right in the middle of our experience – and hopefully in the children’s experiences. Certainly the Y5 children all wanted to “do it all over again”!
The harvest display this year was a bit different from past years because so much more of it was produced from our own garden – potatoes and onions, raspberries and strawberries, an enormous pumpkin, beans and shallots and s tiny courgette! But all of it is real produce, a harbinger of good things to come. The dream of course is to have our own kitchen, taking food we have grown ourselves and cooking it to a high standard to feed to the children we teach. That is a long way off, but yesterday we got the first view of what the kitchen will eventually look like, once building starts in the new year.
This week has been tougher than most, for many of us. The challenges have been different and the pressures on some staff more intense. I have been reminded of Peter’s instruction to women in 1 Peter 3 when, speaking of Sarah, wife of Abraham, he says to them “you are her daughters, if you do what is right and do not give way to fear”. The temptation to give way to fear is often present, especially for those of us who do not just work at Christ the Sower but love it with a passion and are jealous for its success. We have been made, through Christ, more than conquerors, but at times it is hard to imagine ourselves as that. The writer to the Hebrews shouts at us “Do not throw away your confidence, for it will be richly rewarded!!!”
One of the greatest things we can do for each other is to “encourage one another while it is called today” as the writer to Hebrews says in another place. I have had people doing this for me all week, and I have needed it each day, and so have ended the week in a place of peace. If I have not taken an opportunity to encourage somebody each day, then, to that extent, I have failed to allow God to have a harvest from my life. This is not a “nice thing we do” – it is in fact the lifeblood of the church, and the lifeblood of the school. On Wednesday I was challenged, as I entered the school, to praise! It was almost audible from the Spirit – Praise me! Praise me! And so I did, in class after class, praising God for the teachers and children he had given us in each. Praise has the power to deliver us from fear, because it reminds us of the confidence with which we are clothed and places us in the right relationship with God – he far above, with all power; us protected and loved by that same power. If there is a fulness of promise, on difficult days that feel more like autumn than spring, it is through this quiet confidence and praising heart that the promise is turned to fruitful harvest.