St. James The Least of All – October, 2023

Negotiating the Harvest Festival

As we near the end of the Harvest Festival Season, Rev’d Dr Gary Bowness continues his tongue-in-cheek letters from ‘Uncle Eustace’, Reverend of St. James the Least of All.

The Rectory
St James the Least

My Dear Nephew Darren,

In the unlikely event of ever being put in charge of designing the course for those being trained for Ordination, I would make a few significant changes.  Modules on doctrine, Church history and Greek would all be dropped as unnecessary.  In their place, I would add courses on how to run a tight jumble sale, ways to keep your church council in order – and especially close to my heart at present, how to negotiate Harvest.

The first skirmish starts in early Summer when it becomes clear that the flower arrangers’ plans mean that the choir would disappear behind a huge array of chrysanthemums.  The choir then retaliate by announcing that their Harvest anthem must take place just when the Sunday School intended to re-enact the parable of the Good Samaritan.  They, in turn, raise the stakes by insisting that a stage will be needed for their performance, thus ensuring that I will be separated from the congregation by an impenetrable barricade.

In September, therefore, there is the traditional meeting to iron out all these little difficulties.  This inevitably results with the annual act of the Verger handing in his resignation, of the bell ringers threatening a mass walk out, and those who organise coffee afterwards demanding that my sermon lasts no more than three minutes, so there will be plenty of time for socialising after the Service.

I greet all suggestions with a spontaneous burst of indifference, smile, agree with it all – and do nothing (this, incidentally, is a good policy for all decision-making). Inevitably, everything goes ahead exactly as it has always done for the last century.

Come the day, there will be the usual arrangement of eggs round the font, with the strategically placed card saying ‘Given anonymously by Elsie Jones’ and the pyramid of apples temptingly near the choirboys, so designed that when someone tries to pinch one during the sermon, the whole pile disintegrates as they roll all over the chancel.

On the following Friday, all will leave after the Harvest Supper saying that the entertainment was worse than the previous year and that the absence of red cabbage had quite ruined the hot pot. Everyone therefore has had an enjoyable evening.

My Harvest training course would be compulsory and a pass mark of 90% would be needed before Ordination could be considered.

Your Loving Uncle,


Harvest Image: Photo by PxHere

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