Dear Friends,

                   As I write it’s approaching Harvest again, and with it the chance to dust off some of those classic hymns we’ve come to know and love. ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ and ‘Come, ye thankful people, come’ both rightly emphasise our need to be thankful. But as I do my yearly scan of these timeless classics one line sticks out like a sore thumb. The line; ‘all is safely gathered in’. It begs the question: ‘is all really safely gathered in?’

     The trainloads of refugees and miles of camps serving those fleeing from Syria starkly tell us that this line of the hymn just isn’t the case. For these desperate people, all is most certainly not safely gathered in. And for others, the image of a successful harvest that the hymn depicts may be a distant memory, whether the lack of harvest is a barren African field, or someone struggling to find an affordable place to live in these uncertain times. All is most certainly not safely gathered in.

     Yet we mustn’t discount the hymn fully. If it is successful in highlighting the plight of those living in peril and insecurity then surely it is also a reminder of the hope we find in God, that there will be a time, however distant, when all will be safely gathered in. This is God’s promise to us, that God will never forsake us, but is constantly reforming the world through the love of Christ. We have a part to play in this too. Every thought, word and deed motivated by our love for God and one another, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, is helping to bring the safety of all one-step closer to fulfilment.

     Rejoice and be thankful as we remember harvests past, present and future, pray for those near and far whose safety is threatened, and remember that God is always with us and that in the fullness of time all will be safely gathered in.

Tim