A blog for all seasons has a particular interest in representing the liturgical times and seasons and attempts to integrate the pattern of our every day life within the church’s year. So, as we approach Michaelmas we are aware of the signs of autumn and the onset of the colder, darker days of winter. The course of nature changes. The brilliance of the summer sun is softened and veiled by the early morning mists. In secular life the academic year begins and, it seems (especially here in Oxford), that a new year has dawned. Church activities begin again after the August sabbatical. But one festival stands out for those who have St Michael as their patron – the feast of St Michael & All Angels. This, our patronal festival, is like a navigation point for the church, just like the sightings of Michaelmas daisies in the garden.
This year the feast falls on a Thursday (29th September). In order to celebrate this event with as many people as possible we will once again transfer it to a Sunday, the last Sunday of September. Michaelmas will also represent for the church community the climax of the stewardship campaign, “Time for God.” We have shared a series of sermons, teachings and invitations to commit time to be with God, either at home or in church, casting our eyes further to see how we might be used for God’s purpose. On Sunday, we will be asking people to pledge their commitment of time to a particular ministry or area of church life. In return for this pledge we will present a ribbon as a sign of ‘service.’
“As one of the quarter days, Michaelmas has for many centuries been an important time for payment of rents and generally settling up. It was also a time when people could terminate their service and be hired elsewhere at one of the many Hiring Fairs that took place on this day. These Hiring Fairs were sometimes called Mop Fairs and workers for hire would carry an emblem of their trade – a mop for a maid, a whip for a carter, a straw for a cowman or a crook for a shepherd. This emblem would be swapped with the new employer for a ribbon to confirm the agreement of new employment.” (from Catten Cakes and Lace: a calendar of feasts, by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer)
It gives me heart to think that a liturgical festival has been the catalyst shaping the rhythm of our days. It was because magistrates were elected, servants were hired, land was exchanged and debts were paid that the new legal and academic years begin at Michaelmas! So I warmly invite you to come to our Michaelmas Fair at St Michael & All Angels, Summertown. The Revd Professor Martyn Percy, Dean of Church Church Cathedral will be preaching. I look forward to welcoming you to our fair and giving you a ribbon to mark your service in God.