Today (29th September) is St. Michael & All Angels Day. It also happens to be the day exactly five years ago when I became the Rector of Greyfriars & St. Mary’s! Something for which I remain profoundly grateful to God and His people.
Michaelmas is almost forgotten as a church festival, yet it is very much part of wider society especially in Scotland, being a “ quarter day” in legal, medical, and academic communities. There was also a tradition that families ate goose: Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day, want not for money all the year. The price and availability of such delicacy would well prohibit today! This may be out of fashion many years but Harvest food is not. The Rectory apple tree has an over- abundance of produce this year; if you would like some, just ask!
Speaking of apples, I have a memorable apples experience from a Harvest in my childhood. I am a staunch believer in uniformed organisations for young people. Being chaplain to the local Sea Cadets is a singular honour. As a boy I was proud to be in the Life Boys now part of the world- wide Boys Brigade.
However one of the down-sides of it was being marched several times a year to the local Presbyterian church, where the black-gowned Minister was heavy on long sermons and light on humour. Except one memorable year when we were invited to be part of the Harvest Thanksgiving. The church was crowded so we were packed into a side annex seated around the baptismal font. Which was loaded high with the juiciest apples ever known to humankind---or boykind in particular. The sermon droned on and the pungent aroma of the forbidden fruit got sweeter. Yes, I gave into temptation. To the silent cheers of fellow conspirators I stole an apple. I had the sense to work slowly and deftly from the top of the pile but unfortunately lingered long enough for the Minister to look up at that very moment and eyeball me. I ate the offending goodie anyway with warm guilty pleasure. Then came the moment of real truth; the Minister made a bee-line for the Life Boys and looking straight at me thanked us for being so well- behaved during the service. And gave each of us an apple. It did not taste so good as the illicit one ...
We proudly present our Harvest Thanksgivings in Kirkcudbright & Gatehouse:
Greyfriars Sunday 3rd October at 11am. Rev. Bill Hogg is the preacher and Canon Hazlett the celebrant. The Reader is local farmer Rupert Shaw MBE. Church will be decorated on Friday 1st October from 10am onwards. Afterwards the Rector will deliver gifts of fruit, vegetables etc to our elderly and housebound church members. The offering is for RSABI, a Scottish agricultural charity helping struggling farming communities.
St. Mary’s 10th October at 9.30am. Rev Gill Hart, who recently retired from Carlisle diocese and now worships regularly with us, is the preacher. Canon Hazlett is the celebrant. Once again we are delighted that children from Gatehouse Primary School, with their teachers & class-room assistants, will be helping decorate the church with their talented art- work on Friday 8th October from 2pm onwards. We are also asked to bring flowers, vegetables etc to adorn the church then or present on Sunday. Afterwards, as with recent tradition, the Rector will auction the produce and the donations, which, along with the cash offering, will go to Tear Fund for Afghanistan. Who knows --- we may even rival Flog It!
Continuing to care for God’s creation, our churches will have a joint service in Greyfriars on Sunday 31st October at 11am for “ Climate Sunday”. There will be strong lay involvement including personal reflection and the service is being organised by the Rector & Rachel Inglis, the churches local ecology representative. There will not be a service in St. Mary’s that morning. This is vital timing as the churches are being asked to reflect on the COP Climate Change Conference in early November in Glasgow.
Canon Stephen Hazlett, Rector