Our Rector's September Letter

I am writing this letter in August and already thinking ahead to our Harvest Services. Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1st August and was called Lammas, meaning 'Loaf Mass'. On this day, farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the first fruits of the harvest.

In many parts of England, tenants were bound to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords on or before the first day of August. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where it is referred to regularly, it is called "the feast of first fruits".  At the start of the harvest, communities would appoint a strong and respected man of the village as their 'Lord of the Harvest'. He would be responsible for negotiating the harvest wages and organising the fieldworkers.

Nowadays Harvest festivals are traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. Harvest Festival reminds Christians of all the good things God gives them. This makes them want to share with others who are not so fortunate. In schools and in Churches, people bring food from home to a Harvest Festival Service. After the service, the food that has been put on display is usually made into parcels and given to people in need.

We will be holding harvest services in each of our churches in the Benefice but on the 29th September there will be a special service in Milborne Port. We will begin in Church House from 9.30 a.m., serving bacon butties for breakfast. From 10.15 a.m. we will gather in church for a short service of thanksgiving where we will sing some of the old favourite harvest hymns. After the service, perishable goods will be auctioned off to raise money for Christian Aid. Tins and non-perishable items will be taken to the food bank.  All the other Harvest events are listed on page 22. Everyone is welcome, especially if you are a farmer or allotment holder: we would love to see you.


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