Canon Hilary Barber: "Looking after our neighbour at home and abroad, should be for us as a nation, a high priority"

​​ The nights are drawing in and the days are considerably shorter than a few weeks ago. The colours are just beginning to appear as we let go of summer and embrace the season of autumn.​​​
Many faith communities are celebrating Harvest Festivals at this time of the year, and nearly all of the harvest has now been gathered in. Photo: AdobeStockMany faith communities are celebrating Harvest Festivals at this time of the year, and nearly all of the harvest has now been gathered in. Photo: AdobeStock
Many faith communities are celebrating Harvest Festivals at this time of the year, and nearly all of the harvest has now been gathered in. Photo: AdobeStock

Canon Hilary Barber writes: Many faith communities are celebrating harvest festivals at this time of the year, and nearly all of the harvest has now been gathered in.

On August 1 in the Minster we marked Lammas Day, when traditionally the first harvest corn was cut and brought into church for blessing and used to make holy bread.

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In recent years in the Minster we have renewed our commitment to God’s creation, the environment, the universe, the cosmos, and all that the creator has made.

This important recognition is part of our Strategic Plan going forward, and embraces one of The Five Marks of Mission.

We have just been through a procurement process to appoint a new inspecting architect, and the practise we have chosen (Purcell) won the contract in part, by their impressive commitment to responding to the emergency climate change, and to supporting the Minster in exploring how we can reduce our carbon foot print in the years to come.

Food is an important subject for people of faith. There are many food laws associated with different faith communities.

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Most food laws embrace common sense, not mixing foods together, cooked and uncooked, the importance of hygiene when preparing food, when to eat meat or not to eat meat, times of abstinence and fasting – really good for the gut and for dieting!

Here in England culture gets mixed in with faith traditions, whether you happen to be a Christian or not.

Many of us still enjoy a Sunday roast, eat fish on a Friday, love hot cross buns (available for most of the year), chocolate eggs at Easter, turkey at Christmas.

The Collect or special prayer for the Day on the Sunday before Advent is often referred to as Stir Up Sunday as the prayer begins “Stir up we beseech thee O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people, that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded”.

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This is the day when we should begin to prepare our Christmas puddings – getting the fruit we have dried through the autumn months together, and soaking them in some lovely usually alcoholic liquid, until we are ready for baking.

It’s a classic example of faith and culture, secular and religious, coming together at festival times of celebration.

Sadly, I’m all too aware of nations unable to adequately feed their people, either because of natural disasters, or more frequently, because of the change of climate.

The emergency climate change has left farming land destroyed, either because of heat and fire, or because of water and flooding.

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The result is that people and families can no longer live happily in these places and seek a better life, resulting in increased migration.

Targeted International Aid from Britain used to support people staying in their own land and communities.

Very sadly our own government chose to cut and reduce the amount of International Aid from the UK budget, and this has now resulted in large numbers of people on the move in search of food and safety.

As we move into the long anticipated period towards the next general election, I want to argue for an increase in the International Aid budget, especially as we continue to be one of the richest countries in the world, and that looking after our neighbour at home and abroad, should be for us as a nation, a high priority.

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