The fall is traditionally, and agriculturally, a time of harvest, and in our faith tradition images of harvest are often associated with the mission of the church. When we think of ministry as the planting of seeds, the tending of spiritual growth and eventually of harvest, in what ways do we see God already at work in the community of St. Peter’s in the Woods? Are there seeds that need planting? Are there places where we are called to focus our ministry, ‘pruning’ out distractions that are keeping us from deeper meaning and spiritual growth? And are there fields ripe for harvest? Over the next month I will be blogging each week a reflection on one of our ministries as related to this understanding of God’s work as sowing, tending, and gathering God’s harvest.
This weekend’s Fall Festival is clearly a time of harvest; many people have devoted their days, evenings, and weekends to plant seeds and tend the growth of this program. Their preparation has been an act of service, of stewardship, as they have given generously of their time, talent, and treasure. There are also those who have not been called to participate in the planning but who will attend the festival and offer their own stewardship of time and talent in supporting this ministry. They will arrive willing to support, to join in an ongoing work. And then what of those in our community who will attend, the ones without any connection to our parish whose presence at the festival is an act of joining in, of becoming part of our parish mission and outreach? It would be easy to overlook those who attend from our wider community as merely recipients without an understanding that they are also active participants. In Northern Virginia there are a myriad of possible activities on a Saturday. Those who attend have responded to our invitation, they have chosen to make our festival a priority. It will be their own stewardship, their own treasure, whether or not they realize it that will nurture our parish ministry of mission and outreach. When we use these funds to serve others, they will have played a vital part. And what of those in our community who have not been able to support this ministry? I, myself, will be absent on Saturday as I am in South Carolina to celebrate the marriage of Kelley Fennessey and Gavin McDuff. Each year I have found the Fall Festival to be a joyous occasion for meeting new people, and enjoying the fellowship of our welcoming and vibrant community. It is at times like this that I am most aware of God’s blessings, for we share in ministry together regardless of geography or time. You and I are part of God’s Kingdom, part of an expansive act of divine love and reconciliation. When we are apart we pray for one another, supporting one another through the power of God’s Holy and life-giving Spirit. So, what part will you play in the harvest that is the Fall Festival? In all of our ministries as a parish? This weekend your attendance at the Fall Festival, even if for a short time, would be a blessing to you as well as to others. And for those who will attend, I pray you will greet all people, known and unknown, in the name of Christ, knowing that those of us who cannot attend will be holding you in prayer, inviting God’s Holy Spirit to create in you a good work. In keeping with this week’s lectionary, let us not forget that we are created by God, called by God, and empowered by God to serve others. May we be faithful in our call, sharing the Good news of Christ’s redeeming love that heals and renews our broken and hurting world.
Godspeed, Rev.. DeDe+