You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
The garden changes colour with the seasons. The bright gold and yellows of the forsythia and mahonia japonica have now faded to be replaced by the more subtle blues, pinks and purples of the lilac and the columbine.
The columbine is an old fashioned country cottage garden plant whose flowers are bell shaped. For this reason the old country folk used to call them “fairies bonnets.” Now in earlier times fairies had a reputation rather different to that portrayed by Walt Disney today. They were often seen as mischievous and indeed sometimes malevolent. It was therefore considered wise to avoid areas of woodland or springs which fairies were thought to frequent for fear of upsetting the “little folk”. Now before we scoff at such pagan ideas we must not forget that those country folk regularly went to church on Sundays. Indeed, Thomas Hardy in his novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles published in 1892 has Tess, a simple milk maid reciting the Te Deum whilst walking the dusty road to her next place of employment. Can you do that?
Here is a prayer with which some of you are already familiar:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
What, you want me to hand over everything to you, God? Look, you wouldn’t mind if I kept back just a bit, would you? I mean, I need my car to get to work, and I need money to provide for my family and the next promotion would be very helpful as it will enable me to do... Well it would give me a bit of status that I really deserve.
Now are we not behaving a bit like those old folk, touching our caps to the fairies? Yes we know the Bible tells us that God will provide but we still want to hold on to our worldly possessions, our old ways of doing things. That may be an understandable attitude but think what He has done for you:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that all who believe on Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
If God was prepared to do that for us, to give the very life of His Son, does He not deserve our total commitment in return? No fudging, no reliance on material wealth; God requires our total commitment. So, are you ready and willing to say: “Here am I Lord, send me.” Isaiah 6:8. And if not, why not?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years