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The reflection below was used as part of our Morning Prayer on Sunday which you can  view on our Facebook page or on this YouTube video.

News:

Regular Worship: From this Sunday there will be a service at 10.30am at both St Cuthbert’s Haydon Bridge and All Hallows’ Henshaw alternating each week between a Benefice Eucharist and said service of Morning Prayer. We hope that this regularity will help those who would like to come to Church after a break or for the first time.

Harvest: This is the time of year we traditionally gather with the wider community to give thanks for the gifts of the harvest. Currently this is not going to be possible. However, over the coming weeks we will though be focusing on the generosity of and gratitude for creation. Our worship for the coming two Sundays will focus on these themes. In addition, in the week beginning 4 October there will be opportunities to explore these themes in our daily prayer.

 
Worship this week:

Everyday through the week:

Morning Prayer at 9am and Evening Prayer at 6pm streamed on facebook.com/parishesbythewall

Sunday 11 October
Harvest Generosity

9am: Morning Prayer with Hymns and Reflection

Streamed on facebook.com/parishesbythewall

10.30am: Said Morning Prayer 
followed by time for Private Prayer 
St Cuthbert’s Haydon Bridge 

10.30am: Benefice Eucharist
All Hallows’ Henshaw
 
For Reflection:

Colossians 3: 12-17
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Luke 17: 11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Reflection

I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that one of the great hardships of this new-normal is not being able to sing in Church. In the rich seam of festivals and celebrations of the months ahead we will mourn those things we would have wanted to sing. We will all have our own choice, but for me, and this is purely a sentimental choice, I will miss the riotous singing of Autumn Days led by the children of our schools in their Harvest Festivals. 

Estelle White’s jolly children’s hymn divides opinion. For some it is trivial – it does after all not even mention God or Jesus or even the Church. But for those of us brought up on well-thumbed copies of the Come and Praise, its vision of Autumn Days, of the silk inside chestnut shells, refuelling jet planes, and singing milkmen, makes it the theme tune of the season. And at its supposedly trivial heart is a deep truth that we are called to remember and reflect on today.

So I mustn’t forget
No, I mustn’t forget
To say a great big thank you
I mustn’t forget.


Our theme today is gratitude. In our prayers and readings, we are reflecting on the call on each of us to be thankful for the gifts of the harvest, for the generosity of creation, and for the love of God. The theme of gratitude which we explore in our readings carries with it a strong contemporary resonance. However, as with so much of our live at the moment, these experiences of thankfulness have come to us through the peaks and troughs of our uncertain world. 

In our Gospel reading we find one of these extremes of gratitude; the gratitude of hope in the darkness. In our story Jesus, entering a village, encounters ten-lepers. Living in a place of complete despair they cry out to Jesus for something, for anything. Miraculously Jesus heals them. As nine turn away in wonder and shock, one turns back to Jesus, and thanks him. This is the gratitude which comes when we find hope in the darkness. 

Through the dark-days of lockdown we discovered, perhaps to our surprise, this gift of gratitude. The rainbows that adorned windows and the “claps for carers” spoke of this same gratitude which comes when we encounter, like that healed leper, grace and hope in the darkness.

By way of contrast in our reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians we find the other extreme of gratitude; the gratitude of opulence and plenty. Writing to a church community flourishing in its shared life, full of the gifts and giftedness of God, it is hard not to say thank you.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

This is the thankfulness, the gratitude of harvest. Over the last few months, I’ve got into the habit of getting up early and taking the dog on a morning run on the Haresby Lonnen. There, with creation painted with the dawn lights by the Creator, with this wonderful valley lying before me, I find myself stopping in wonder, and becoming pathetically grateful that I call this place home. In a world and at a time where there is so much to fear it is not hard to simply be grateful for the gifts of this time and this place.

As we reflect on the theme of gratitude there is much that our contemporary experience – with its highs and lows – can teach us. But as we look to the future we also need to build our gratitude on a firmer footing as all our lives – we hope – more normal and humdrum. That as we put behind us the emotional rollercoaster of this season we don’t forget the call and gift of being thankful that has come with it.

So where might we find this basis? Well we have ways of building habits of thankfulness all around us hidden in plain sight.

Chief amongst is what we are doing right now. Worship, in whatever form it takes whether in Church, online, or quietly at home, is – at its heart – an act of thankfulness. The Eucharist – that thing which Jesus calls us to do in his name – is literally a thanksgiving. If we remember that our worship begins in thankfulness, in gratitude, then the thankfulness we learn in worship can become a habit that flows into all parts of our lives.

As we look to the patterns of our day to day lives there are again small moments, small habits we can take forward which remind us of this thankfulness. How many of us, for instance, stop to say grace – to give thanks – before a meal. I know I don’t always. I should, but I don’t. 

In a different way I remember having a student job where one of the team leaders assiduously and repeatedly thanked us. It could have come across as glib or skin deep. But because he meant it, and because he lived it, we were lifted by his habit of gratitude. Those little learnt acts of thankfulness built a better team and in its own small way, a better world.

And this is where we return to the seemingly trivial wisdom of Autumn Days. Because far from being glib, its genius is to notice the small things that we are thankful for day by day. The glistening grass, the rainbow spray, the swallow turning in the sky.

What White’s hymn reminds us all is of the joy that can come when our lives, in their humdrum day to day normality, are built not on entitlement, or privilege, but on a simple gratitude to our Creator for all the gifts that surround us. As we look to the future and pray for a season of calm ahead us of, we would do worse than hold onto the gift of gratitude, and take the time to learn again the simple habits of thankfulness. So that as we respond to the world that lies on the far side of this virus we don’t forget to say a great by thank you.

Questions for personal reflection
•    
What are you thankful for?
•    What simple ways do you try to be thankful each day?
•    How else could we be more thankful day by day?
For your prayers:

Those in need… Lesley Towers, Margaret McAllister, Allan Munns, David Lench, Sue Cantwell, June Henriksen, Elaine Brown, Dorothy Hartley, Carol Wolstenholme, Eileen Stephenson
Those who have died…David Tully, John Dodd

 Collect for Harvest Gratitude
God of grace, ever creating and restoring,
you breathe life into all things
and embrace us with an everlasting love;
help us to grow in wonder and awe,
to embody a spirit of gratitude,
and to dream generous dreams;
that, in gathering what we have,
we may graciously offer ourselves 
to accomplish what you will,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Amen.
 
Prayer for the 
Parishes by the Wall
Gracious Father,
renew the Church in our day
and make your Parishes by the Wall
holy, fruitful, and faithful, for your glory’s sake,
Amen