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The season of Harvest Festivals has crept up on me rather unexpectedly this year! During July and August I watched the combine harvesters at work in the fields. Many of those harvested fields have already been ploughed and sown. All is safely gathered in (for this year) and we can begin to think about next year. But as I sit down to write the news is about shortages of haulage drivers, not only in this country but across Europe. There have been fuel shortages… I have found petrol stations without fuel and on one occasion I was limited to £25 worth of petrol. There is the threat of food shortages on supermarket shelves.

All of this is a salutary reminder that in our modern world the distance between farm and fork is very great. To get the grain from the grain store to the mill requires HGV drivers and lorries with fuel in their tanks. If we travel through the stages of production, wholesale and distribution before the product hits the supermarket shelves the road mileage is substantial.

Very often, at harvest time out focus is the farm… we thank God that the harvest has been gathered in. And it is right that we should do this. But in a world where so many live their lives in towns and cities the farm is something that is often viewed through rose-tinted spectacles and the window of a car. So long as there is food in the supermarket, what more do we need to know? The TV series Clarkson’s Farm has highlighted how difficult farming can be but that is only the first stage in feeding a nation. When food is in short supply we become more aware of the basic necessities and our reliance on God. The passage from Matthew’s gospel may be spoken to people who indulge with plentiful feasting but it reminds us all of our dependence on God.

Fr Philip

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