At the end of each farming year we join together at the church in great celebration and give thanks to God for the year that has been, the crops we have yielded, the livestock we have raised and the food we have made. This year, as well as looking back and thanking God for the harvest that has been, we made the conscious decision that we would look ahead and thank God for the work that He does on our lands each and every day to create the harvest that will be. We wanted to capture the imagination of the people and bring a reminder to keep God in the centre of their work through the year ahead – this is how Plough Sunday came into being.
The idea began as a Sunday service of thanksgiving for the land and the work of God plus a blessing of the farming machinery after the service. From there the vision was caught, the excitement built, and the idea grew and flourished. The people of Saint Paul’s, Ballymachugh, joined forces with St Mary’s, Carrick Church and the wider farming and working community to create a spectacular day.
The morning of the 18th February, 2018 marked our Plough Sunday service. It may have been wet but the spirits were high and the scene was beautifully set. The car park was filling with tractors belonging to the adults, the walkway was filling with tractors belonging to the children, and a single vintage horse Plough with an old oil lantern stood in front of Saint Paul’s, Ballymachugh, lighting the way for the farming year ahead. The very plough worked the neighbouring fields to the church 40 years ago.
Post service tractors big and small gathered together for their tractor runs. It was hard to tell which faces (adults or children’s) showed the most joy over getting to take a ride on their tractors. The children went first with great speed, enthusiasm and screams of joy, making history as they rode for Ballymachugh’s first official junior tractor run. The big tractors went with just as much enthusiasm and a remarkable rumble of engines as they took off on their tour around Lough Sheelin.
The day as a whole had a great buzz about it. Smiling faces, heartfelt conversations, delicious food, beautiful machines, generous giving and a wonderful sense of community are only some of the things that this event gave. We are grateful to all who gave their time to the planning and decorating; to those who donated food or prizes; and to those who participated in the day. Mostly we are grateful to God who makes all things possible, and whom works in our lives every day so that we may reap the harvest.
We look forward to celebrating God’s blessings on our land at Plough Sunday next year. We hope that each year we can gather together with our wider community and share a day of fun and fellowship. We invite all who are interested to mark the date in their diaries and join us at Plough Sunday on the 17th February, 2019, at Saint Paul’s Ballymachugh.