Harvest Festival 2017
The celebration of Harvest Festival this week has once again reminded me of why I enjoy my job so much. Hearing Tony Miller speak about the work of the Whitechapel Mission with hundreds of London's homeless is inspirational - but no more so than hearing the poems and prayers of songs of Pre-Prep, who so sincerely put across to their parents and other relatives their joyful gratitude for all that they have. Hearing a six-year-old tell it like it is when describing why they love apples so much somehow reconnects you to the important things in life. There is so much for which we ought to be grateful and yet all too easily we can take it for granted.
Over the past two weeks I have been mulling on that line from the Lord's Prayer; "...give us this day our daily bread..." It's a part of the Lord's Prayer that for most of my life I've felt as though I haven't really needed to include it. After all, why do I need to ask for bread when there is so much other stuff to hand - rice, pasta, potatoes cooked in a myriad of ways and that's just the carbs! Pop down to your local supermarket and the shelves are stacked with food from all around the globe all waiting to be popped into the trolley. I know I'm fortunate, I know I don't need to make use of the local Foodbank like some in our town do, so do I really need to say that part of the prayer?
Yet Jesus included it in His universal prayer for all. He didn't say, 'you only need say this if you're poor'. So why do we who are in the top 10% of the world's rich list need to say it? What I've recently come to realise is that that line is not an invitation to us wealthy ones to ask for more, but rather it is an invitation for us to curb what we want and focus on what we need. Agur is not a well know biblical character but he is responsible for writing a chapter in the book of Proverbs. Nestled between his wise sayings is the following little gem; 'give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.’ (Proverbs 30:8) Rather like Goldilocks, he recognises that there is a balance between too much and not enough. Starvation is not good for anyone, but neither is over indulgence.
Learning to curb my appetite by taking only what I need rather than what I want will not only be good for my waistline, but good for the planet too. On Radio 4's Costing the Earth programme this week they were talking about how we have a tendency to use only 5% of the life of the goods we buy before we throw them away in order to feed our desire for the newest and latest model. The wastage and environmental impact of this behaviour is huge. But going against our natural inclination of wanting more and learning to be leaner and greener is not easy... and so I finally begin to see more clearly why Jesus put that line in the prayer. I'm just grateful the almighty is patient with such a slow learner as I!