One of the downsides of being part of a church tradition that doesn’t follow a liturgy or weekly church calendar is that sometimes you miss out on unusual events that can help us to look at all life from a spiritual perspective. One of these (perhaps rather odd) traditions is ‘Plough Sunday’, which this year will be on 10th January 2021. I’d never heard of it until this week! (I can’t believe I’ve never even heard it on The Archers!)
Plough Sunday is the day in the Anglican year when a plough was traditionally brought into the sanctuary and the community dedicated their ploughing to God, seeking his help and his blessing on the work that was so vital to their very existence. Can you imagine it? A plough in the church building?! If ever we needed a visual reminder that God is interested in our everyday lives and what goes on outside our church meetings, this is it!
Perhaps if we did this kind of thing in our church, a plough wouldn’t be needed to represent our work (we don’t have any farmers in our congregation), but other items could be brought: memory sticks and corporate coffee mugs, ladders and a mop, van keys and Allen keys, schoolbooks, robots and engineering equipment… all brought by the people who use them in their week. And each person could dedicate the work of their hands – home and away – to the Lord their God, in the hearing of their fellow believers. And each person could be commissioned for their work, in the presence of their fellow believers.
So come prepared on 10th January at 6 p.m. with your ‘ploughs’! You can show us them via Zoom or we can have a ‘show and tell’ in our service as we think about the role of work in our everyday lives and remember that our whole lives belong to God, not just a couple of hours on a Sunday. As Mark Greene says, ‘this communal act will quietly subvert the self-vaunting ideology of our age, that it is by algorithms and systems, hi-tech and nano-tech, human strength and human ingenuity that nature yields its bounty and that economies and nations thrive. As we go into the new year, Plough Sunday reminds us of our total dependence on God, and that, whatever we do, with him we plough a different furrow.’
None of us knows what this new year will bring (nothing new there, even if perhaps this year the shadow of 2020 makes us more apprehensive about that fact.) But we do know that God cares about every aspect of our lives and is as interested in the plough as the altar, as interested in our work lives as in the worship we bring in our church buildings. Let’s celebrate our work and bring it to God as an offering to Him.