I am in the midst of preparations for moving house.
After many years living in the same house, there is are a huge number of goods that I am sifting through and making decisions about whether I should keep or throw out.
At the back of a cupboard, I found a gift which truly embodied something of what was really important to my late mother.
It was so important to her that, for 58 years, it had lain wrapped up in a pillow case, never being used!
I have now made the decision that this treasured wedding gift should not be stored up any longer and shall be used.
What does it say about thankfulness when people store up gifts in this way?
I would suggest that many of us do tend to store up gifts that have been given to us at some time in our life, whether we mean to or not.
Telling the story of the unopened gift, however, is not to make a point at the expense of my family.
I tell the story because it reminds me of the nature of true thankfulness, that we should treasure all the gifts we are given.
This is Harvest time. It is a special time of year when we notice the gifts of God changing all around us – the trees are becoming barer as the breezes blow through leaves, drying them out, causing them to fall softly on the ground.
Gardens once full of flowers in summertime are now cleared out in autumn, in preparation for the winter season.
Fields that were once vibrant and full are bare, now that the wheat and barley have been gathered in.
These signs of change remind us, when we compare them to the spring and summer times, how privileged we are to live in such a wonderful world with all its changing seasons.
How we go about stating our thanks to God for these gifts can be varied.
In schools and churches, children often sing songs and play their part in Harvest assemblies. Many other people may choose to donate gifts of food to their local food bank.
The Church has always recognised it is right to give thanks to God for the gifts of his providing and, over the years, this has seen people work in different ways to get this message across.
Perhaps you remember bringing gifts of vegetables and fruit in order that it could be distributed to those in need, or donated money which was used to support projects caring for people close to home and overseas. Wherever your memories of giving thanks at Harvest time stem from, it is good to recall that the work of the Harvest continues.
Let’s make Harvest special this year by not storing our gifts up like treasure; rather, let us choose to share them.