28th September 2023

Today we come to the end of the season of Creationtide in our church Calendar and it is also Harvest at St Mary’s. We will be bringing our offerings forward to the front of the church during the service. These are going to The Pantry this year. Winchester Community Food Pantry in Winnall enables members to “get more for less”. The pantry aims to help and encourage families that need a little bit of support to manage
and budget through these tough times. Anyone is welcome to shop at the pantry once a week – there are no criteria for becoming a member. You pay £5 per shop, receiving goods worth at least £15 (limited to one shop per week).

During Creationtide we have been looking at the amazing world that we live in and how we can celebrate
that, but also care for our world. Today we are celebrating our creation by looking at generosity. Of course, it includes the offerings we will make at the Harvest Celebrations but it has to go much deeper than that. The passage we will be looking at in Malachi talks of bringing our tithes into the storehouse, not just because we are being obedient but so that others might eat.

In Biblical times, tithing was a very important part of an agricultural economy but also more recently in Europe and other places around the world. Here in Britain we know of old Tithe Barns that are still standing where the farmers and landowners brought a tenth of their crops, which in turn went to fund the church but also to feed the poor of the parish.

Sadly, like most things, tithing started well but was abused: the Tithe Acts of 1836 and 1936 abolished the old system here. At 2s in the £ the money raised through tithes had become a source of income, luxury and avarice for the privileged; and a source of anger and resentment for everyone else.

These days we are not under compulsion to tithe money, but God promises that as we give back to him, he will bless us far more than we expect or even imagine. Our giving to God will result not only in many people being blessed but in 2 Corinthians 9 we’re told that our generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. May we be known as generous people not only in money but in caring for others and sharing our lives.

Revd Lis Chase