Harvest services

Last week we explained at length how we managed to get a high-voltage surge through the house. The repercussions of that have continued throughout the week with the completion of seemingly endless insurance forms and the acquisition of estimates for repairs of things. Mind you, we also had the power company fit us a new and hopefully tamperproof box and the neighbourhood “character” who caused the problem seems to have disappeared. In this case we will avoid saying “Au revoir” but instead wish him “Adieu” or “goodbye”.

By way of contrast, we thought we’d note some recent events in our church at Cannes and a rather fun and interesting harvest service nearby.

Although numbers fluctuate with holidaymakers, retirees and people who are just at a loose end for something to do in Cannes on a Sunday morning, Holy Trinity Cannes is actually doing well.  In fact our attendance numbers are up seven percent in a year; a figure that we are very happy about.

Another encouragement came with the baptism of two adults and their confirmation along with five other adults and three teenagers in September. (Some of you who are nonconformists may mutter that there is no scriptural sanction for confirmation. True, but the score is levelled by the fact that there is no scriptural sanction for infant dedication either.)

In order to do the confirmation we needed a bishop. Given that the diocese of Europe stretches east-west from Gibraltar to Moscow and north-south from Helsinki to the Greek islands, and there are just two bishops for the whole area, getting a bishop is not quite as simple as it is in the UK. Nevertheless Bishop Robert Innes was “passing through” and presided – if that’s the word – over matters. Somehow everybody managed to find parking and we had a packed service followed by a lunch for around seventy people. It was joyful and encouraging.

A few Sundays later we had harvest celebrations, marked in our case by donations of food for a local charity Bras Ouverts, a food bank which also provides hot meals during the winter months. It’s much needed in our area where we have considerable numbers of the filthy rich and sadly, the filthy. We also raised over €1,000 for Christians in Syria. Yes, we are a long way from the rural landscape that is echoed in so many harvest hymns but it’s no bad thing to remember on one hand God’s provision of good things for us and on the other the needs of those who have very little.

Last Sunday, we were at another if somewhat contrasted harvest service. Fifteen minutes drive just inland of us is the picturesque town of Lorgues, which despite a degree of urban sprawl, still sits gently cradled by vineyards. Here there is a small Anglican fellowship and Chris had been asked to speak at their harvest service. We met at a charming old farmhouse in the middle of acres of vines, now stripped of grapes and beginning to turn to autumnal yellows and reds.

There were about twenty of us and it felt like the perfect British summer day: sunlight streaming about us and everybody stripped to short sleeves. Chris preached on the duty of giving thanks from the first verse of Psalm 136: “Give thanks to the LORD for he is good, his love endures forever.” It’s not hard to give thanks under such circumstances although the French army did inject a note of reality by carrying out artillery practice 20 or so kilometres away on the Plateau de Canjuers.

 

We certainly enjoyed ourselves not least because afterwards there was a leisurely meal under the trees around the farmhouse that, in the best French tradition, gave everyone enough time to talk to each other.

One other reason that we enjoyed ourselves was that we were able to leave our house at 10:30 as opposed to the 8:15 which is our normal departure time for Cannes. It’s early days but we may yet be more involved in the Lorgues fellowship as and when we can.

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