Thought for the Month (May 2014)

'Tis the Merrie Merrie Month of May! - A month of festivals and much exuberant fun and frolic. Feasting , jollity and the enjoyment of life - particularly out of doors. Maybe too, a month of looking forward to summer - especially after the rains and winds of last winter.

There will be a number of festivals in this area, Mayfield perhaps the best. Then there's the Heathfield Show, the Cup Final, the Hay-on-Wye Book Festival and Chelsea Flower Show. No doubt there are many other festivals you know about. So let's look at the word FESTIVAL. As "Miranda" might say, there's a good word. It's a word that implies a Feast. Most of our contemporary festivals have food and drink stalls. So feasting is a part of festival - a time to celebrate God's goodness in creation.

In our churches we exemplify the value of eating and drinking by celebrating - yes, celebrating, not just eating and drinking - the Communion service. Our Communion Services begin with giving thanks - thanks for the gifts of Bread and Wine, for the gifts of life and energy. For the gifts of sharing those gifts with our friends, both around the Communion Table but in our homes and in our gardens.

Of course, food and drink come at a cost - the cost of growth, production, distribution and preparation. But here, food and drink, our festivals and community sharing, becomes a metaphor for God's love in creation. We have been given a gift, but it's up to us to make good use of it. Like prayer, how often we are given the gift of prayer but it's up to us to do something about it? We are often the answer to our own prayers.

But, I'm sure you have been thinking this as you have been reading, there is also another side of the festival coin. There are thousands of people who do not and cannot share our gift of plenty, who therefore cannot celebrate the joys of good food and drink; who will not be celebrating plenty and the freedom to enjoy feasting with their friends. As we are all made in the image of God, we are all one family. So the needs of others become our needs.

So before we risk patronising those for whom we pray regularly in their need, we also can consider our own needs. Yes, our needs, for perhaps many others are in poverty BECAUSE we think we need more than we actually do. Put simply, we have too much!

The answer is then in our hands. We need to share. To heed the words of the prophet Micah, "Love mercy, act justly and walk humbly with you our God." Now, May is also the month of Christian Aid week. An opportunity to put our faith into action for the sake of those whose need is so much more serious than ours. Perhaps this year, we can all give more than we usually do as an expression of our loving concern for others. We are not called to be killjoys but simply to be aware of the whole of creation when we make our fundamental choices in how we live. So in this merrie, merrie, month of May let us celebrate creation with a renewed heart - love mercy, act justly and walk humbly with God the creator.

See you on the road

Rev. Tony Rutherford

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church