I was interested to discover that I am still legally allowed to graze sheep or cattle in the churchyards of Crowhurst and Catsfield. According to canon law (the body of law that legally governs the clergy of the Church of England, its building and churchyards) this could also be interpreted to include goats, geese and horses, but sadly not ‘elephants and giraffes’ since they are not ‘cattle’. I have heard of at least one sensible incumbent who bought a donkey, thus solving the annual Palm Sunday search for one, and used to tether it by a long rope to a different tombstone every day.
Sadly I don’t think I will be exercising my traditional rights of herbage, but they are a reminder of the days when the local rector, like most of his parishioners, was closely connected with working the land. I grew up inNorfolk, another agricultural county, and the delightful eighteenth century diaries of Parson Woodforde show he had a pretty sound knowledge of agriculture ranging from dealing with a sick cow to worrying about feeding his stock during dry weather.
Today most of the population, however, has no knowledge about farming of any sort. A local farmer, who has done a lot of work with school children (not Catsfield or Crowhurst ones) tells me that most of them arrive thinking milk comes from the supermarket and have no idea that a cow might be involved.
When Jesus spoke he assumed his hearers knew a fair bit about farming with his references to sowing, harvesting, pruning and shepherding. We cannot all be agricultural experts, but harvest should remind us to give thanks for the creation around us. The Bible tells us that we are entrusted with being stewards of it, so let us learn to be wise ones that care, cherish and maintain it.
Jesus also spoke of faith being like a seed, so may we also strive to grow our commitment and relationship with Almighty God. A plant dies without care and faith withers too without prayer, Bible reading, worship and the receiving of Holy Communion. God gives us these aids to growth, so let us not neglect them.
Posted By: valerie