September 2023

God’s own field 

Harvest, in the agricultural sense, is well past. All is safely (or soggily) gathered in and the appealing blocks of barley and hay baling our landscape into a pop-up sculpture park have all but disappeared. The Church’s Harvest celebrations – extended as a ‘Creationtide’ season into October – are in one sense, then, a delayed thanksgiving for the yield of former months. That needn’t trouble us, however, for they are just as much focused on a rather less specific future point: the anticipated end of the world believers know as the Last Judgement. For many, this is merely one of the vestiges of a Christian worldview with little bearing on present times, a sickle blade blunted by unbelief.  

Nevertheless, the idea of a harvest that separates the righteous from the unrighteous often crops up in Jesus’ teaching and has gained a new edge as we witness the ecological ends of our actions, more fearfully evident with each passing, and slightly warmer, year. The once-familiar Parable of the Wheat and the Tares tells us that good and evil inevitably grow together in this life: one is easy to mistake for the other and this fact should caution us away from prejudice or self-righteousness. But it is also a warning that the real myth is the one that imagines our actions have no lasting or eternal consequences. They do, they will - and to ignore this is simply to hasten the day. 

Bishop Andrew

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