You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
Recently we re-planted one of our camellia bushes into the garden as it had been in its pot for some time and was not flowering as it should. When we took it out we found that its roots were tightly bound together so that it was not getting the nourishment it needed. We teased the roots out and planted it in a freshly dug and well composted hole. It can now spread out and hopefully will benefit.
Are we a bit like the camellia? Are our Christian roots pot bound? Do we profess a Christian faith but keep our beliefs to ourselves for fear of what others might think, or of offending anyone? Do we attend church regularly and if asked will help arranging the flowers or stacking the chairs after the service - don’t get me wrong these acts are still service to God. But then we go home to put our Christianity into a drawer until next Sunday. Are our churches like that? Do we direct our parish resources and energies to providing a nicer, more comfortable place for fellow members of the congregation? Or do we make an effort to go out into the community and extend God’s welcome to those who have never been near a church in their lives? Look at Isaiah 58:6-14 to see what God has to say. A holy place is a place of refuge, and where refuge is provided, there the living Spirit of God dwells for God’s will is done.
As we nourished the roots of the camellia on replanting it, so must our spiritual life be nourished. Lent is a good time to do that for it calls us to leave behind our bad habits, our faults and our failings. But God also wants us to grow closer to Him, by inviting Him into our lives and being drawn more deeply into his love for us. Thus we pray for His help and guidance. However, most importantly, Lent also calls us to reach beyond ourselves and our own wants to be of service to others, especially those most in need. Thus we give alms in Lent; but is that enough? We are also called to give of ourselves to the service of others.
In Luke 9:1-6 we read: ‘When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were ill.’ We may not be able to heal the sick but like the newly planted camellia we can spread our nourished roots. Then we can go out into the world to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
Let us use this Lenten period to prepare for the mission God has for us; to let the world see what true faith in God means by our words and actions. We cannot do this alone but with God by our side anything is possible.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years