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Welcome!"Botley Baptist Church is a warm, welcoming and caring Christian family", wrote a visitor."I enjoy worshipping here! It is so meaningful and refreshing", said another.We are a Bible teaching Baptist church in Botley, Oxfordand look forward to welcoming you!
Wandering down memory lane, 20 September, 2000 is a special day, the day we moved into our home in Botley. Four days later, on Sunday 24th, we ambled down to the local Baptist church, and participated is a special worship service, which in that year was Harvest Sunday! We were warmly welcomed, stayed for fellowship and met several people, who over the years have become special friends.
Minutes after returning home from Church that Sunday, our door bell rang and there stood Hedley with flowers from the altar and a large basket of produce and food from the “table of God’s bounty” at the front of the Church. We could not have expected a warmer welcome, a sign of God’s blessing as we settled into a community in which we would find our church family!
The Harvest is a special sign of God’s blessing. God promised Noah when he set foot on a new creation, as long as Earth lasts, springtime (planting and sowing) and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease! (Genesis 8:22)
God has set seasons, patterns and rhythms to ensure the harvest is delivered, a sign of God’s faithful blessings for our well-being, but harvest is so much more than the gathering or reaping of a ripe crop.
It starts with waiting for rain to soften the land which facilitates ploughing. While waiting, the farmer checks the farming equipment is fit for purpose. When the soil is ready, the farmer decides which seed will be planted first: the longer cycle grains, or the shorter cycles of vegetables and some fruits.
Two principal grains cultivated in the Holy Land were wheat and barley. Ezekiel mentions the use of millet (4:9), "rye" (in Exodus 9:32 and Isaiah 28:25) is actually “spelt”, and both rice and maize (Indian corn) were introduced in the twentieth century.
While the seed germinates and starts to grow to maturity, the farmer is busy weeding and pruning. Watering and nourishing the plants is a continuous activity.
When mature, ripe and ready, harvesting is not just about cutting off the ripened grain, vegetable or fruit; it has to be gathered, graded, and plans for its temporary or longer term storage have to be made.
I loved the practice of the Tithe Barn, of filling it first, of giving God the glory, and thanking Him for the blessing of the harvest, before the farmers’ barns were filled.
During my annual study time in Minehead, I attend Minehead Baptist Church where I met Peter, a 95 year old retired farmer, who told me, while stocking the Tithe Barn, farmers and farm hands sang hymns and songs. When the Tithe Barn was filled to capacity, everyone would pause to pray. Sounds idyllic and romantic, but Peter assures me, the practice is still prevalent on some farms!
In our industrialised and technologically driven world, celebrating the harvest is not the act of spiritual worship it used to be. We have lost something precious, that of a thankful spirit, expressing gratitude for what we take for granted, God’s blessing of the harvest.
It does not matter how hard we work, the harvest is God’s blessing to us; to receive it, daily as we shop for our groceries, is surely worthy of spirited worship!
As we enjoy our harvest supper, enjoy the entertainment Penny has so wonderfully organised for us, and the following day, bring our offering of all manner of harvest, let’s make a conscious effort to appreciate all that goes into our daily sustenance, and to express our gratitude to Him who makes it all possible, the One who is Lord over the Harvest, Creator God Himself.
If you are new to Botley, North Hinksey, Cumnor (and surrounding areas) or to Botley Baptist Church, or have been worshipping here for a long time and wish to explore more about Church life, Baptist beliefs and how you can participate in the life of the Church, you are most welcome to join us on Wednesday 2nd October, 2019 at 7:30 pm at the Das' home.
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