Bringing in the Sheaves

As it approaches midday on September 2nd, I’m meditating on my ancestors (like I find myself doing a lot).

The ancient Celts viewed September as the month of hard field-toil and transition. You gave thanks for the harvest as you took it in…there would be time for a formal celebration at the end of autumn.

But right now? Right now was meant for nose-to-the-grindstone, hard work. August was spent picking the early crops, but now the field is ripe and ready. The rich berries are plump against the azure sky, even as the sun takes its time getting up now, and heads to bed early.

They labeled September as the month of “creative fire,” because the hands were hard at work creating a way through winter, and as the month drew on, the need for morning and evening fires came earlier and earlier.

It is a month of changes, both in the atmosphere and in the home, as we begin turning our full attention to the coming winter.

September is a month where humanity began to regain some balance with the Earth.

The old hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves” reminds me of this. That song was based off of a Psalm, but truly the rhythm of the Psalmist was known in those northern islands even before they knew any part of the Psaltery: this is the rhythm of life, Beloved.

We sow, we wait, we reap, and we celebrate.

Now is the time for reaping, working, regaining balance as we head back into the habits on the far side of summer.

You’ve Never Heard of Most of Them…

Today the church honors often overlooked saints, but ones close to my heart, The Martyrs of Papua New Guinea.

I know…you’ve never heard of them, which is too bad.

They’re relatively recent additions to the calendar of commemorations, added in the late 70’s.

When the Axis Powers invaded New Guinea in 1942, a number of the European missionaries on the island nation had already been called back to their countries of origin.

The Anglican Bishop of New Guinea, Philip Strong, challenged his clergy to remain with the people. Eight missionaries and two Papuan laymen were betrayed to the Axis Powers and martyred in August of 1942 for their defiance and insubordination.

In 1948 the Martyrs Memorial School was opened in Sangara as a living memorial to these brave souls. The school continues today and can be found in Agenahambo.

Often included in this memorial day are the 15 Lutheran 24 Methodist, and 168 Roman Catholic Missionaries in Papua New Guinea, New Britain, and the Solomon Islands who died during the WW II.

-historical pieces gleaned from Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals & Commemorations