St Hugh Eyres Monsell

Parish Newsletter

September 2021

This painting by Carravagio is entitled "The Inspiration of St. Matthew".  The Church in the West keeps the feast of St Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist on 21st September.  Matthew is among the early followers of Jesus. He is mentioned in Matthew 9.9 and Matthew 10:3 as a publican who, while sitting at the "receipt of custom" in Capernaum, was called to follow Jesus.  Matthew may have collected taxes from the Hebrew people for Herod Antipas.  Matthew is also listed among the twelve in Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. In passages parallel to Matthew 9:9, both Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 describe Jesus' calling of the tax collector Levi, the son of Alphaeus.  But Mark and Luke never explicitly equate this Levi with the Matthew named as one of the twelve apostles. 

Matthew is thought to have been born in Capernaum in the region of Galilee in the first century.  As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek.  His fellow Jews would have despised him for what was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force.

After his call, Matthew invited Jesus home for a feast.  On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32).

One aspect of Matthew that is not always sufficiently emphasised is that it is a Gospel of "presence".  It begins by assigning the title "Emmanuel" to Jesus.  He is "God with us" (Mt 1.23).  Near the centre of the text, Jesus comes to his diciples when they are unable to make any headway on the Sea of Galilee (14.24-25).  At the close of the Gospel Jesus gives the promise "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Mt 28.20).  The presence of Jesus, with his disciples gathered around him, is characteristic of the Gospel.  The teachings provide a model for Christian discipleship.

The Collect for St. Matthew the Apostle 
  from The Book of Common Prayer:

O Almighty God, who by thy blessed Son didst call Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle and Evangelist: Grant us grace to forsake all covetous desires and inordinate love of riches, and follow the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.  Amen.

In Praise of the Harvest

Praise God for the harvest, where riches abound;
a splendour of colour, of scent and of sound.
Praise God for the fullness of joy and of power,
poured out on your children, each day and each hour.
Where wave upon wave of blessings flow, to use and to share,
our joy at the gifts you give to us will lead us to care.

We gaze out beyond us, in wonder, amazed,
to stars beyond number and infinite space.
Praise God for our planet, so precious and rare,
where all life can flourish, in water, light, air.
We grieve at the searing cost to earth of greed and of strife.
Lord show us what we must be and do in caring for life.

Praise God for the chances to give and to share,
to pray for God's kingdom, and live out our prayers.
The lost and the broken need harvests of love,
Praise God who is leading us forward to prove
that giving and loving lead us on to joyfully live,
In learning what we must be and do, in caring for life.

Sophie's Harvest

Sophie discovers the message of giving at the heart of Harvest

It was September and Sophie and Helen were staying with their Grandma and Grandpa who lived by the seaside. It was a lovely sunny day and Helen had gone shopping with Grandma, but Sophie had decided she would stay and help Grandpa in his garden.

'I've had a good harvest of runner beans this year,' said Grandpa, 'would you like to pick some for our dinner tonight, Sophie?'

Grandpa showed Sophie how to pick them by holding them with one hand and pinching the little stem away from the main stalk with the other hand. She soon had enough for their dinner in her basket.

'It's going to be Harvest Festival in our church this weekend, so you and Helen can both make up a nice basket of vegetables, fruit and flowers from the garden to take along to the church,' said Grandpa, as he and Sophie sat in the sun enjoying a glass of lemonade.

'So what exactly is Harvest Festival?' asked Sophie. 'I know it's all about taking fruit and things that you've grown to church, and that they give the stuff to people in need afterwards. But what if you haven't got a garden to grow things in, and you haven't got much money to buy anything, what then?' asked Sophie.

'Well, the whole idea of Harvest Festival is about thanking God for everything that he gives us and giving something back to him, that can give happiness to other people,' explained Grandpa. 'In the olden days, especially in the country, most people grew things to eat to live, so that's what they gave, because they were giving thanks for a good harvest. But I suppose it doesn't have to be things you have grown, it could be anything. Let's think about your Dad, he's a painter and decorator, so what could he give?' Sophie giggled: 'It would look a bit strange to take a pot of paint to church wouldn't it?'

'Not if the church needed some decorating, or there were some elderly people in the church who needed some. If your Dad was willing he could give his time free to do a job for someone,' said Grandpa.

'I think I get the idea now,' said Sophie. 'Mum's good with computers, so she could offer to do letters and things. Grandma's good at cooking, so she could make some cakes. But what about Helen and me? What could we give? We're not good at anything yet.'

Grandpa smiled. 'God doesn't only want things because they're perfect, we all have gifts that he has given us, things that we enjoy doing, like those pictures that you made out of the seashells you collected from the beach, think how pretty they would look on the walls of the church.'

Just then Grandma and Helen came round the corner of the house, carrying lots of bags of shopping. 'Safeway was so busy, we're worn out,' said Grandma. 'I could do with a nice cup of tea.'

'I'll go and make you one,' said Sophie. 'Would you like some lemonade, Helen? I'm starting my Harvest Festival early – ask Grandpa, he'll explain what I'm talking about.'

'So what is Sophie on about?' asked Helen.

Grandpa explained that they had been talking about giving things for harvest and they had decided that God wanted people to say thank you to him by giving to others anything that would be helpful or make them happy. He told them all about the things that he and Sophie had already thought about.

'I could give my paintings of fish and crabs and things, couldn't I?' said Helen.

'That would be a very good idea,' said Grandma, 'because that would remind people to say thank you for the harvests of the sea, and to remember the fishermen who go out in all kinds of weather to catch it for us.'

Sophie came out carrying the tea and the lemonade. 'Well, what do you think about our harvest ideas then?' she asked.

'I think you've brought Harvest Festival right up to date, laughed Grandma. 'I'd better go and warn the church that they might be getting some rather different harvest gifts this year!'

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