A perfect autumn day in Woodbridge: clear skies, bright sunshine and a crisp feel to the air. This was the morning of Harvest Festival at St. Mary’s Parish Church on Sunday, 4th October. Leaves on the trees in the churchyard were showing their first golden tints and the late flowers of summer defiantly clung on to life before being struck down by the first frosts of the season.
Stepping into the porch, beautiful flower arrangements greeted the congregation. Inside this stunning, light building, the sun shone through the magnificent stained glass windows. And below each, on every windowsill, was another colourful arrangement of flowers and fruit. Glorious pedestals stood proudly in front of the pillars and beside the high altar was a striking arrangement of sunflowers, the symbol of food and flower combined.
A full church of all age groups joined in the singing of well known harvest hymns, led by the jubilant sound of the organ and voices of the choir. Children brought their gifts to the altar: fruit, vegetables, biscuits, chocolate and various tins of foods, some of which were handed over rather reluctantly! And on the altar itself stood home baked bread and a large bunch of grapes, symbolic of the bread and wine which are central to the Eucharist service.
Once again, our Curate, Revd. Paul Hambling, excelled in engaging the young children gathered round him to make the connection between the food we eat and its source, and how it gets to us. And the need for us to realise how fortunate we are compared with those in parts of this country and abroad, in our plenty and their hunger. The gifts brought by the children will later be distributed to the needy in our own town. Our prayers echoed the need for us to care for the environment and respect nature; to avoid waste; to play our part in sharing our harvest and to remember those who provide our food for us.
After the service, coffee and a bring-and-share lunch were served in the The Abbey School Hall, where we were joined by our friends from Woodbridge’s Catholic Church of St. Thomas.
Yet another festival at St. Mary’s which was uplifting and thought provoking. Grateful thanks to all who helped make it so.
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