Dear Friends – this month by Barry Milner
As we move into autumn we give thanks and marvel at the breath-taking display of colour in our beautiful part of the world.
The two Church Services with the highest attendance in October were midweek!
On Tuesday 4th October all the children from All Saints’ Primary School, together with their staff, parents, grandparents and carers filled our Church. The children gave us a wonderful Harvest service. They reminded us that the word HARVEST contains the letters of the word STARVE and SHARE. (One little boy also realised they contain VEST.)
On Thursday 6th October the Church was filled again by Westgate Primary School. The focus of their service was climate change and the need to improve our stewardship of God’s world.
Both schools assigned their generous donations of non-perishable products to Otley Food Bank. Together they donated 26 crates of food!
On Tuesday and Wednesday 11th and 12th October, groups of toddlers from Monkey Puzzle nursery came to Church wearing their yellow gilets, to bring their harvest donations for the Food Bank.
St Joseph’s Primary School, Pool CofE Primary School and Askwith Primary School have also kindly donated their harvest produce to Otley Food Bank this autumn.
Jesus taught us to care for the needy and vulnerable and we give thanks for these kind donations and for the care and interest of the staff and the children.
In Mathew Chapter 25 in the parable of the sheep and the goats Jesus tells us, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.
On behalf of Otley Food Bank, we are most grateful for these donations. In previous years, harvest donations would go into our incoming stock room and be used over the next few months. Such is demand now that these donations went straight into the main stock area and much has already been distributed.
We pray for the day when the Food Bank will be no longer needed, and everyone will have the resources to provide for themselves.
In this harvest season we think especially of Ukraine.
Ukraine is a major grain producer and exporter, the ‘bread basket’ of Europe and the developing world. We give thanks that, through the diplomatic work of the UN, grain shipments have resumed, allowing space in the silos for the farmers to harvest their crops this year. It is estimated that the effect of the Russian invasion will reduce the harvest from 86 million tonnes in 2021 to 50 million tonnes in 2022. We pray that this shortfall will be dealt with fairly and that the poor will not suffer.
The 6 months guaranteed period for Ukraine refugees in this country is coming to an end and we pray that the refugees will be able to move on and be housed on a more permanent basis. Jesus and his family were refugees, and He would understand. As Christians we need to not only offer help to all refugees but also oppose all the situations which create refugees.
We see the effects of climate change affecting harvests around the world, either by flooding destroying crops as in Pakistan or drought preventing them growing in the first place as in the developing famine in Somalia. As these changes increase – affecting food prices even in this country – we need to remember that the poor around the world will be the first to feel these effects. We have created the pollution, but they are paying the price.
We are living in a time of growing uncertainty both political and financial but as we look forward to the season of Advent and begin to plan for the celebration of Christ’s coming into the world let us remember that He came to bring Good News for all.