The agricultural show season is now well underway with events in Ballymoney and Lurgan taking place today. Organisers make their plans from year-to-year with great attention to detail ensuring everything runs smoothly, safely and is a success. With so many things to consider, each show is a great place to socialise and meet up with friends.
Exhibitors also put a vast amount of effort into making sure they make the best possible presentation to the judges. It could be craft, or culinary delights, children’s classes, floral displays, horses, and all kinds of other livestock turned out and looking their best.
Planning and meticulous attention to detail
I have to be honest and say that my favourites are the livestock classes - especially the cattle. A great amount of planning goes into having the cows at the correct stage and calves at just the right age for the show. Then there are the bull classes, often with massive animals brought out with meticulous attention to detail.
A few years ago, this led one farmer’s wife to tell me that her husband put more effort into taking the bull out than he ever did in taking her out! Mind you, as soon as she said this she was back to combing the bull’s hair.
The key to the whole thing is having the animal which most closely conforms to the ideal breed type, perfectly presented to the judge. The sheer amount of work involved to win a prize and a rosette is unbelievable, but farmers and breeders put the effort in - and the judge’s decision is final!
The Bible tells us of an eternal Judge and a greater judgement. In Hebrews 9:27 we read, “Just as people are destined to die once; and after that to face judgement.” The great reality of life on this earth is that one day it will end. Death is the great inevitable and after this, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we go to be judged by the Lord.
So what type of judgement is this? It will be judgement tempered by mercy. It will also depend completely on what we have done with Jesus. Have we repented of our sin and trusted in Him as our Lord and Saviour? Have we accepted the salvation He offers to us? This was the purpose for which Jesus came into the world, as He says, “…I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47.)
The free gift of the grace
Jesus brought the amazing message of salvation, which we can access by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is not salvation that can be bought or earned. It is the free gift of the grace of the loving God when we trust in His Son, and those who trust in Jesus will find mercy and grace. They can stand before the Lord knowing Jesus has paid the price for their sin and they will be welcomed into Heaven. The outcome without Jesus will be very different, but this great Judge does not want to condemn anyone. His desire is that people would trust in Jesus and be in Heaven forever.
If you are going to any shows this year I trust you will enjoy each one. If you are competing I wish you success. When you see the judge coming, remember there’s a greater Judge – the One who loves you and before whom you will one day stand.
Rev David Reid is minister of Ardstraw and Douglas Presbyterian Churches in West Tyrone. He is married to Valerie and they have four children and three grandchildren. David was a full-time farmer for 18 years before being called to the Ministry.
His blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’ in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.
You can look at other blogs in this series here.
Caption: Grace Elwood and her British Blue Heifer winning the Cecil & Molly Robinson Perpetual Cup for best young handler in the beef section at the 2022 Castlewellan Show, presented by show vice president Molly Robinson.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at email@example.com or call him on 07938 488 372.