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From The Vicar, Oct 21

From Reverend Teresa Stewart-Sykes


As I have watched the combines at work in the fields around our villages, and as I’ve been held up by the tractors and the lorries carrying the fruits of the harvest to grain stores or to barns, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to give thanks at Harvest-time.


In a speech for the American Thanksgiving holiday President JFK wrote: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”


What a great reminder for us today as we face a climate emergency, a refugee crisis and a global pandemic that the act of giving thanks requires us to acknowledge our blessings, and in so doing, calls us to recognize our responsibility to help create a peaceful, well-governed world.  Moreover, when we realise that the creation of a peaceful, life-affirming world is held captive by poverty, injustice and oppression, we who live with such great blessings in our daily lives are called to recognize that there are so many whose lives are less fortunate.


At Harvest-time when we give thanks for our homes and material comforts, we are challenged to recognize those who are left without.  When we give thanks for our families and friends, we call to mind those marginalized by the isolation of physical or mental ill-health, all those who are still battling with the effects of long-covid or bereavement because of covid.  When we give thanks for our freedom, we remember all those living under oppression and injustice, in Afghanistan, China, North Korea etc. In our act of giving thanks that we recognize a responsibility to bring about positive change in our world.


I think it is true that we have the power to create the world that we wish to live in.  If we wish to live in a kind world, we can offer genuine kindness to others. If we desire a clean world, we must be willing to take action to reduce our carbon emissions. If we wish to live in a merciful world, we must extend our hand to help someone who has fallen on hard times. If we wish to live in a peaceful world, we can campaign for justice for all, because there can be no peace without justice.

President JFK was right, giving thanks really is only the start, it’s how we put that thanksgiving into practice that matters.




The Revd Teresa Stewart-Sykes is Team vicar for The Baldons with Nuneham Courtenay, Berinsfield and Drayton St Leonard.

e-mail: RevTeresa@outlook.com      

The Revd Jennifer Morton is Associate Team Vicar and lives in Toot Baldon: jennifer@morton8.co.uk.

Our current curate is The Revd Sorrel Shamel-Wood who lives in Berinsfield.

Our safeguarding officer is Sara McDouall: saramcdouall@gmail.com

A clergy person can always be reached in a pastoral emergency by ringing the Dorchester Team Office 01865 340007