This Sunday we’re having our harvest services. These are times when we invite people to bring something – usually tinned food, or money – to donate. But why? Isn’t it just for people in rural communities?
Firstly, it’s about saying thank you.
Simply put, harvest is a time when we look back at everything that God has given us, and we thank Him. Perhaps God has literally given you a fruitful harvest (for example, see Simon’s article in this month’s Encompass). Or perhaps for you God has given you something less harvest-ey (but no less significant) such as a job, or food to eat, or family, or friends. Whatever it is God has given you, harvest is a time to pause, to reflect, and to say thank you. And one of the greatest ways we can do that is to bless others.
Secondly, it’s a time to remember the poor.
In Galatians, the Apostle Paul reminds us to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). This seems to have been widely adopted in the early church; for example, the book of Acts says the church “gave to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45), and later, in response to a famine, the disciples gave to help those who were worst affected (Acts 11:27–30). So as we reflect on all that we have received, harvest is also a time when we too should “remember the poor”.
So what can I give?
At all our services this weekend (9am, 10.30am and 6.30pm) there will be opportunities to give something. For example:
This year any financial gifts we receive at our harvest services will be sent to the Poverty and Hope Appeal. This will go to five projects aimed at reducing the impact of poverty and oppression. These are:
- In Sri Lanka helping children who have been traumatised through exploitation and abuse
- In Zimbabwe tackling the ongoing stigma of HIV/Aids across four areas
- In Burundi Providing horticultural training for marginalised groups
- In Syria providing education, training and support for young people whose lives have been affected by the conflict
- In Kent working with Commonwork at Bore Place to explore with young people the global issues linked with poverty, injustice and climate change.
For more information on the above, there Please visit Please give generously.
This year’s Poverty and Hope Appeal will not be sending any aid to St Stephen’s partner communities in Tanzania who are currently experiencing a drought and a subsequent crop failure. The St Stephen’s Mission Action Group is meeting soon and will be exploring ways we can help them, but in the meantime, please support the Poverty and Hope Appeal as generously as you are able.
We also welcome gifts of food and other items at our harvest services. Some of the items we receive will be given to homeless people who visit St Stephen’s, and the rest will be sent to the Tunbridge Wells Street Teams who help those who are homeless and disadvantaged. Items most needed are tins (with pull can tops) of stew, curry, macaroni cheese, fish and chunky soup, plus also rice, pasta, pasta sauce, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cereals and porridge.
Please visit the Tunbridge Wells Street Teams website for more information about what they do. And as with the financial gifts above, everything we receive goes to a really good cause so please give generously.