There is something very special about the season of autumn, I think, which is hard to define. Keats had a pretty good stab at it with his ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. What I value most about autumn is that it is a time of remembering.
Once the harvest is safely gathered in, we thank the Lord of the harvest. We not only accept the gifts of the earth but we Christians acknowledge God as the gracious and generous Giver of those gifts. Harvest is a time, then, when we remember all the love and mercy God has showered on us, and we count our blessings one by one.
September is also the month when we remember ‘The Few’ who bravely saved us from invasion in the Battle of Britain. Jews on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur (or the ‘Day of Covering’) remember how God mercifully and graciously covers over our sin.
The end of October sees All Souls’ Day (or ‘Hallowe’en) and All Saints’ Day when traditionally we remember our dead. It’s a shame that we have turned this into a frivolous time of ghouls and ‘trick or treat’, for traditionally it was a time when together we could all remember our loved ones who had died. Life naturally moves on, but our dead are always remembered by us. All Souls’ Day is an annual opportunity for us all to share our sadness and loss.
November brings Guy Fawkes Night – ‘remember, remember the fifth of November’. And then follow Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day when we publicly pause as a nation to remember those who fell in battle to defend our land.
Our American friends in our congregation will also hold their Thanksgiving Day, a harvest thanksgiving which remembers God’s provision of food and and the first harvest feast shared by the Pilgrim fathers and the Wampanoag people in 1621.
So there is a lot to remember during autumn and we need these reminders, because we human beings can be very forgetful, especially of those who have done us good in the past. Ten lepers begged Jesus to heal them, but only one remembered to come back to thank him.
Thankfully, God does not need to have his memory jogged, except so far as our sins are concerned. The prophet Jeremiah records God’s gracious promise: ‘I will remember their sin no more’. This wonderful promise is repeated twice in the Letter to the Hebrews. Because of Christ’s atoning death on the Cross, God wipes away our sin and our guilt.
The Bible records that God remembered Noah, Abraham, childless Rachel, and so many more in their time of trouble. Psalm 9.2 says: ‘God remembers those who suffer; he does not forget their cry and he punishes those who wrong them’.
Sadly the Israelites too many times in the Old Testament ‘did not remember God’. They forgot how God had saved them. They were no different from us today who also ‘do not remember God’. He does not fit in with our life-style. We are too busy for God, and life just seems to get better and better. Or, at least, that is how it seemed, until Covid-19 turned everything upside down and revealed that things aren’t quite as sure as we thought.
God always remembers us, because he loves us. Let us pray that during this pandemic we are humbled sufficiently to see our need and to remember God.
In this autumnal season of remembering let us remember how good our God is to us and count our blessings one by one.
May you know his hand of blessing on you every day.
Very sincerely Yours,