I had the great pleasure last Sunday of being invited to the Harvest Thanksgiving service in Mallow, north Co. Cork. Now you would be forgiven for thinking that this might be a very rural and very traditional parish and of course, in some ways, it is. What they have managed to do though is something quite special. In the past few years, a number of Nigerian families have moved to the town and have got involved in the church. The Rector made the very canny move of appointing one of them as church warden and has expertly involved them in all sorts of ways in the life of the parish. The singing is phenomenal. With colourful clothes and infectious smiles our African brothers and sisters have brought a level of joy and celebration that is seldom seen in most parts of the Church of Ireland. My favourite part was the presentation of gifts, where several families danced up the aisle bringing baskets of fruit and other produce to the front of the church to thank God for all His blessing and provision. What is wonderful too is how this has all been warmly welcomed by those who have attended this church all their lives. I was happy to join in too – my clapping maybe not quite in time and my voice not quite in tune and my body not quite in rhythm but the whole experience made me more grateful for the harvest (and all God’s blessings) than I had been for quite some time.
Harmony of Black and White at Harvest