You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
Both the buddleia and the lavender are in full bloom in the garden right now. I have seen several different species of butterflies drinking the nectar from the buddleia. Some are delicate pale blue ones, some dark brown but beautifully marked whilst the plain old cabbage white butterfly makes a regular appearance. The bees meantime are taking full advantage of the sunshine to feed on the profusion of lavender bushes planted along the edge of the front garden. Last evening as I put the waste bin out for collection in the morning one of those bees stung me on the hand. I understand why, of course. He was afraid of this large shape that intruded into his space.
Fear is a natural and a very powerful emotion which affects us all in some way or another, whether it is the fear of flying, or fear of spiders, or as in my case, fear of heights (or confined spaces). Basically, I suppose, it is fear of the unknown which of course is what the bee felt. Fear can have a much larger impact on our lives, fear of the consequences of illness or indeed of dying, perhaps. And then there is the fear, real or imagined of other people; the school or workplace bully for example. But what about those refugees making the hazardous journey across the Mediterranean crowded into unseaworthy vessels seeking a better life in Europe? They speak a different language, have different cultural practices, perhaps a different ethnicity and are, well, different in some way, you get the idea. How do we react to the large numbers of them invading our space? Some of them will try to make their way to this country although many will settle elsewhere in Europe. Do we reject them; send them back to their own countries on the grounds that they will take our jobs, our welfare benefits. Will they flood our schools and our National Health Service? Or do we welcome them with open arms? I do not have all the answers but I do know this; compassion is a word easily spoken but not so often put into action. I think we need to look at ourselves at our compassion. Last week we spoke of the need to show God to the world through our lives and actions which we agreed was a challenge. That challenge becomes even greater when we consider Jesus’ commands set out in Luke 6:32-33 (NIV)
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even those who do not believe love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even those who do not believe do that."
Of course that is not an easy course to take but I think we need to remember Psalm 34:4:
“I sought the Lord’s help; he answered me and set me free from all my fears”
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years