One minute the church was quiet, with just the sound of preparations being made for post-service refreshments, under the watchful eyes of soft toy animals; the next, it was filled with the sight and sound of dogs vying for supremacy and greeting each other in the time-honoured doggy way.
I think at 14, Shackleton was the oldest and he comported himself with great dignity. It was a delight to see them, and their well-behaved owners, as we gathered to ask God’s blessing on them and all the animals in our lives.
A big thank you to Jane Rowe for her posters and encouraging so many people to come - we were 30 adults, 15 children, 17 dogs, a chicken called Fluffy and a tortoise called Shelley, who is now three and seemed quite calm amid the turmoil.
The service explored humankind’s responsibility towards the creatures alongside which we are privileged to live. And our excellent readers were Eva and Imogen - many thanks to both for plucking up the courage to read for us.
Afterwards there were drinks of squash, word puzzles and a lucky dip sack of small furry toys for the children; sherry for the adults and gravy bones for the pooches.
With much appreciation to everyone who helped make it all possible
HARVEST FESTIVAL AT BERWICK ST JAMES
Even as the trees dripped with the heavy rain and brightly coloured leaves fell soggily to the ground, there was the sound of 30+ pairs of feet crunching on gravel and of umbrellas being shaken as people made their way to St James’ church for the harvest service. And once inside, they were treated to a mass of vivid autumnal colours in the flowers, fruits and vegetables that decorated every nook and cranny of the church. On the altar was a large plaited loaf with a little visitor……nestled in its folds was a small wooden mouse! Much hard work had gone into the displays - a brilliant job done by all who were involved.
The service’s theme of tolerance and patience was drawn from two parables (the ‘barren fig tree’ and the ‘wheat and the weeds’), kindly and beautifully read by Eva Glyn-Owen and Charles Street. Harvest gifts, to be donated to the Morning Star charity based in Winterslow, were brought up to the altar, and daffodil bulbs given out in exchange - a glance ahead to the Spring as the cycle of life begins again. Many lingered afterwards as refreshments were brought round - a great chance to chat and catch up.
Now the harvest festivals are over, we pray that in celebrating God’s loving bounty, we may never forget that his love reaches others through us.