This summer the bramble bushes have been laden with fruit – lots of large, sweet berries. I guess this is the result of all the rain we had earlier in the year and the many days of glorious sunshine in the summer. At this time of year I really enjoy ‘blackberrying’ and because the fruit has come so early this year, I was doing this during my holiday.
In other years I’ve come home scratched by the brambles because I’ve reached up and in to the bushes to reach the best berries, which always seem to be just beyond reach! Not this year. After a couple of hours in the fields I came home with pounds of juicy fruit all within easy reach. The common land where I was picking is in the middle of a large urban area but that afternoon I saw no evidence that many people had come to pick the berries and many were already rotting on the bushes because they hadn’t been picked or eaten by the birds. Many were already wasted and many more will be. I intended to go back and pick again. I’ve given away some of my first pickings and I thought that I could collect again to give away some more, but other things have taken up my time.
In John’s version of the story of Jesus feeding thousands of people with five loaves and a couple of small fish, leftover food filled twelve baskets and Jesus’ was concerned that ‘none should be wasted.’
The fruit laden blackberry bushes became a parable for me about the generosity of God and the potential for us to waste what God has provided. Whether it’s time or talents or material benefits, God may have given us an abundance, but we may let much go to waste for all sorts of reasons – lack of appreciation, ignorance, indifference, laziness, a hoarding instinct, fear, other priorities...
As a relatively wealthy society we buy more than we need and throw away what we tire of or haven’t got round to using. We are getting better at recycling but there’s still room to improve. Apart from the desperate poverty in many parts of our world today, there are increasingly people amongst us on low incomes turning for help to organisations like ‘New Starts’ in Bromsgrove who will take our surplus and recycle it for the benefit of those in need. ‘New Starts’ and similar charities can take our surplus time, talents, food and household wares and help us to make sure nothing is wasted.
In September, in their annual ‘Work Aid Appeal’, All Saints Church will be making a collection of our unwanted tools to send to parts of the world where they are much needed. Could you contribute to this?
This harvest, let’s take a good look at all we reap from our lives, from our world, and be determined to let nothing be wasted. Let’s consider what we really need and what we have that we can share.