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Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever  gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. - 1 Peter 4: 8-10

Welcome to Fall. We know it’s Fall because of Labor Day, School starting, the Fall Festival is at the end of this month, because the geese are congregating (they started that in early August—you read the signs), and the equinox. Do you know what the Fall is really all about?

In these Northern European and Celtic cultures, the Harvest is what is celebrated. This is never, ever an individual thing! It is a community celebration. Here are just a few of the festivals:  Octoberfest or Erntedanktag in German countries which celebrates the hops and barley harvest; Harvest Dinners in France and the Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands, and Alsace) that fed the community; Gatekeeping festivals in the Baltic states celebrating the grain harvest and equitable distribution to all families; the Communion festivals in England in which the farmers all came to one morning communion service at the end of September to thank God for the harvest, followed by a community meal; The Last Sheaf (Boroda)or Harvest Wreath festival in Czech areas to present the harvest to God and distribute a share to widows and the poor and also to the field mice so they would stay in the fields and not the barns; The Lamb or Shepherd day in French-speaking parts of Switzerland to honor the shepherds and the coming down of the flocks from the Alps.  All of these festivals were community based.

They were about caring for those who had no other means, for eating and celebrating together as a community, and for giving thanks to God for providing the harvest. They were about love and hospitality.

The Bible also talks about celebrations at this time of year. Sukkot is a harvest festival where everyone, from the family to the foreigner is to work and then eat together, remembering God’s provision and recalling the story of the wandering in the wilderness. Rosh Hashanah is the New Year so the people pray and start a new year in gratitude and making sure everyone from the richest to the poorest, from the elite to the slave has enough to eat. And the big one, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement when the whole congregation remembers its sins and asks God and each other for forgiveness.

This Fall, take some time to celebrate all that God has given you. Do as the Irish do this time of year and write to all your family and friends and tell them how your life is better because of them. Or do as the Danes do and write or seek out those you have failed to value properly this year, especially those you have quarrels with or would rather see living elsewhere and reconcile with them in the name of community and love.  We are here not only to harvest the fruits of the earth and to thank God for all He provides through our labor. We are here as harvest workers for Christ. We are to harvest and distribute love and hospitality, grace and mercy, we are to eat together and become one community.  So this month don’t just sit there and read this or think, “How nice.”  Actually get up, find or reach out to someone in this church or community with whom you have a hard time and instead of grumbling about them, thank God for them and share a meal with them in the harvest.

- Pastor Tim

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