Christian Comment with Gareth Zimmerman, local preacher, St Albans Methodist Church

BY NOW most church congregations will have celebrated Harvest Festival, reminding us of what our bounteous God provides.

The festival has its origins in the times when people were almost exclusively reliant on the soil for their existence.

After the winter, the soil would be prepared and sown with seed, which ideally was watered by spring and summer rains, and then harvested in the autumn when the plants reached fruition.

Too much or too little rain, sun or wind would result in a poor harvest, while each in its proper proportions would allow farmers to lay in a plentiful supply to last through the harsh winter months.

For this they would show their gratitude to our Creator during special church services.

Today we continue this tradition, but with subtle changes.

Those of us with allotments and gardens still delight in bringing a selection of what we have grown to church, while others bring products from shops and supermarkets, usually in tins.

The churches then donate what has been brought to local charities.

Where we send our produce and the origins of much of what we buy, confronts us with the realisation that our world is very different from when harvest festivals started.

Despite our affluent society, it is tragically true that Food Banks have been started by the churches, to help needy families in our own society.

This is an ongoing concern, which the churches and supermarket customers respond to on a weekly basis throughout the year.

Secondly, considering the vast profits that supermarkets make to satisfy their shareholders, we realise that this is often at the expense of poorer people in developing countries, who are paid very little for their labour and produce allowing us affluent customers to benefit from low prices.

Whether we are Christians or not, we need to make carefully considered decisions about what we buy, where we buy, where it comes from, and who profits most.

Two passages from the Bible spring to mind:

The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, (Psalm 24: 1)

You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6: 24)