Then suddenly the weather changed. The country had baked in hot sunshine for weeks. With only a few days warning, on the last weekend in July, thunder rumbled, lightning flashed and the heavens opened. Little is constant in this world. We establish our patterns of living only to find them disturbed by events outside our control. The Sunday afternoon barbeque planned on the assumption of yet another sun-ny day was eaten under cover as water dripped from the gazebo.
At the time I am writing this letter Holy Trinity Minchinhampton have just had a service of rededication. Then two days later there was a meeting at Holy Trinity Amberley to give the congregation the opportunity to review the pro-posed plans for a shop at the rear of the church.
When you read this article the congregation of Holy Trinity Minchinhampton will be exploring how to use what is now a beautiful warm flexible space for more than regular worship. I am unsure where the conversation concerning the shop at Holy Trinity Amberley will have got to but I hope and pray that it will have been conducted with respect for differing views.
These days it seems that joyous events can take a lot of preparation. Anyone who has had a part in organising a wedding can tell you that. A wedding in church or a wedding at a venue, they all seem to need a lot of preparation, although the Church of England wedding web site does give you tips on how to reduce the cost and make a wedding simpler
And preparation is what Christians have been doing since Ash Wednesday way back in February. For me, a priest in the Church of England, writing an article at the start of Lent that will be read around Eastertide seems odd. Surely we need to have spent six week of preparation during Lent before we can think about Easter let alone celebrate Easter. This may be a mind-set of some Christians. We must have observed a holy Lent before we have that brief outburst of immense joy that is Easter. Certainly observing Lent is important. Why? Recently two comments reminded me that this long time of reflection, meditation and self-denial is important.
As the countryside flourishes I look around me in the profound silence and I give thanks to the Creator. How could I not? When after all we live in an area of outstanding natural beauty. How do we describe it? I have heard some say it is like heaven on earth. Others use the word ‘awesome’ which is a distressingly overused word nowadays, but it was for this that the word was intended. I think that for many people today an approach to the divine is made most easily through the natural world. I might like to think that being introduced to the person of Jesus would bring people to their knees, but experience suggests that, in our highly secularised culture, a walk on the hills or digging in a garden is, for many people, a surer guide to the geography of God. This is where Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words ring true for many people:
By the time you read this letter I do hope that we will be having sunny days to enable us to enjoy our gardens and walking on the common. We have had a long cold snowy winter so it is wonderful to have better weather to look forward to so we can enjoy the surrounding countryside we are fortunate to have.
When May arrives, I think of Minchinhamp-ton getting back to normal with the cows on the Common holding up the traffic as usual and amusing us as the Highlanders wander through the High Street displaying their fine horns!
I always get excited at this time of year when everything in God’s creation awakens from the harshness of winter and the dark evenings are getting shorter. We have the snowdrops, crocuses and now the daffodils are poking their heads up and in sheltered spots they are even flowering. The evenings are getting lighter and the birds in the garden are becoming more active especially on days when the sun shines. Doesn’t it just lift your spirits! And all of this is the glory of what God has given us in creation.
I reflect each day in thanksgiving and gratitude to God for giving me the eight years of ministry among all of you and for all that we have done together. I would not be able to serve you without your great encouragement, help and love.