In the benefice our Harvest Festivals and events take place this year as follows:
Sunday 18th September
11am – Stoke by Nayland Church – Harvest Festival
12.15pm – Stoke by Nayland Village Hall – Harvest Lunch
(a suggested donation of £5 would be appreciated – please sign up at the Village Shop or at the back of the Church)
Friday 23rd September
7pm – Nayland Village Hall – Harvest Supper
Sunday 25th September
10.30am – Stoke by Nayland Church – Celebration of Creation with Blessing of Pets and Animals
Sunday 2nd October
10am – Leavenheath Village Hall – First Sunday Harvest
5.30pm – Wissington Church – Harvest Evensong
Friday 7th October
7pm – Polstead Church – Harvest Festival followed by Harvest Supper in Village Hall
Sunday 9th October
9.30am – Nayland Church – Harvest Cafe Church
Why do we celebrate Harvest?
The Jewish and Christian Scriptures give eloquent expression to the creative power and wisdom of God. It is therefore a natural instinct for worshiping communities to develop patterns of worship and prayer around the agricultural year.
Ancient Jewish communities lived close to the land, and it is no surprise that the ancient Jewish festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread, Weeks and Tabernacles all have agrarian roots. Christianity assimilated, but placed a differing emphases on these agricultural festivals with much of this is bound up with the need to provide food to sustain human life, and the accompanying sense of a proper humility before God as source of all things, gratitude for his goodness, and responsibility in stewarding the resources of the earth.
The Harvest Thanksgiving (or Festival) is a more modern addition to the church calendar. Its origins are usually traced to the adaptation in 1843 of Lammas Day by the Revd R. S. Hawker, a parish priest in Cornwall. He chose the first Sunday in October as a Christian response to coincide with the traditional but largely secular ‘harvest home’ celebration, but there is some evidence to suggest that a thanksgiving for the harvest was already a relatively widespread practice. An annual church celebration of the harvest certainly established itself rapidly with great popularity and was first recognized officially in the Church of England in 1862. Since then, many local traditions for the celebration have developed but all include an Act of Thanksgiving, which may accompany the tradition of bringing to church gifts of fresh produce and other foodstuffs.