September is the month of beginning again. Schools return, university terms start as do all the host of church and secular activities that take a summer break. September to me always seems a more sensible time to celebrate New Year than 1st January which was the date the Romans chose and we have followed on ever since. The ancient Israelites and generations of Jewish people down through the centuries (including Jesus) have celebrated and still celebrate the New Year in September. This year, Rosh Hashanah, as it is called, falls on 20th September. The literal meaning of Rosh Hashanah is “Head of the Year,” it is a time of feasting, the lighting of candles and worship in the Jewish community but perhaps the main purpose of this important date is to remember God’s creation and give thanks for it. It is also a time to pray for God’s blessing in the year ahead.
Harvest Festival time which we shall soon be celebrating (Emmanuel – 10th September; Elmers End – 15th October) is also a time in our Christian calendar to celebrate God’s creation and to give thanks for the harvest and the food we eat – the fruits of creation. It is also a time for us to remember others who may not have as much food as we have and that is why we bring our harvest gifts to support our local food banks as well as supporting Christian Aid’s Commitment for Life appeal.
Since I last sat down to write my monthly letter there has been a lot of sabre-rattling and bellicose rhetoric between the leaders of North Korea and the US. Whenever there is a “stand-off” such as this, the media have a field day painting apocalyptic scenarios and warning of “Armageddon.” (Which is a place, by the way, not an event!!) I will stick my neck out and say I don’t believe, to quote Barry Maguire’s 1965 chart hit that, “We are on the eve of destruction.” Jesus, ever the realist, told his disciples two thousand years ago – “you will hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be troubled for the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6)
God’s creation has been in existence for 14 billion years and humankind, as we know it, has lived on earth roughly 200,000 years with what we call civilisation only having been around since 6000 BC or thereabouts. The book of Genesis reminds us of God’s promise to Noah, representing all of humanity, which still stands good today and will stand good for all time. God’s promises are as faithful as God’s love. Thank God!!
“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease”