Pastoral Letter 6 31st May

PASTORAL LETTER 6            31st May

“The wise person builds their house upon a rock. The rain comes down, the streams rise and the winds blow and beat against the house: but it does not fall because it’s built upon the rock.” Matthew 7:24

I know that, for many of us, the garden has been a sanctuary over the past few months and, for those who don’t have a garden, open spaces have become important whether it be a balcony, a local park or nearby beauty spot. Nature has been calling us to re-look at its beauty and magnificence with a deeper sense of wonder and thankfulness. I am now much more grateful for the world around me and the life that we areprivileged to share. The weather, of course, has been very kind to us and has drawn us out to see, discover and experience more and, in the process, to become more whole and to have a greater appreciation of what life, nature and other people have to offer us. It is often the case that a difficult and challenging period in our lives, especially one that we all share, can not only bring us closer to each other but also to our Heavenly Father, the author and giver of all good gifts. Sadly, it can also have the opposite effect, but I pray, as I’m sure you do, that our world will be a better, more loving and thankful, place, as a result of all this. A deeper appreciation of the world around us can lead to a much deeper appreciation of ourselves and others and the love that we areall called to share. So, you see, a stroll in the park or a sit in the garden, can have much more significance than we often realise!

You could say that I am viewing all this through rose-coloured glasses but I’m not: I am looking with the eyes of faith. I know that there is much wrong with the world and much wrong with me personally and that I am not the person that God would have me be because of my sin and selfishness. The same is true for all of us and every day I have the pain of knowing that I have not been obedient to His will for me. But, thank God, that He accepts and loves us just as we are so that one day, we might become all that we were meant to be through His undying, never-ending, love for each one of us. Forgiveness and total acceptance are in the very nature of God and what we are asked to do is to be honest about ourselves and to see our Heavenly Father for who and what He is: an all-loving, accepting and forgiving God. The only person who can put us beyond His reach is our self. A place in The Kingdom of God is not a prize to be earned but a gift to be received. So, let’s return to the garden…..

Every morning Christine will have an inspection of the garden and will often be accompanied by me if I’vemanaged to get out of bed in time! She is usually on the lookout for any predators who have paid the runner beansa visit in the night……usually slugs or snails. You can always tell when a plant has been “got at” because of the holes in the leaves and the slimy trail that the “enemy” has left behind! The other danger, especially when the plants are young, is in the form of more extreme weather such as strong winds and frost. Frost can easily kill a fledgling plant but, if you’re lucky, it may confine its influence tothe leaves turning them brown and crinkly. 

To my untrained eye they look dead, but apparently not so. The first thing that Christine searches for is “the growing tip” at the head of the plant because, if the tip is undamaged, then the plant will continue to grow. In the case of the runner beans the plants wind themselves around the bamboo canes in the direction of the warmth and light of the sun. It’s great to see them grow because, although you do not see it happening, growth is taking place all the time and they don’t half move fast towards the light. And so what you end up with is a vibrant plant with some pretty battered, snail nibbled and frost bitten, tatty leaves. 

I often feel like those leaves and I probably look like them too! Anyone who is familiar with my “dress code” will no doubt readily agree! Yes, we are all battered and bruised by life in general and, in recent times, by this dreadful virus attack which has deprived thousands of their loved ones and left the rest of us in a state of lockdown with our sadness’s, fears and anxiety for company. But, if our “growing tip” is still, just about, intact, then there is life and there is hope. Faith is a gift from God that keeps us moving towards His light and the warmth of His love. We continue to live and move in God because although our lives are often weighed down by pain, guilt, heart break, sadness, fear, depression, and a whole host of other things, our vulnerable, weak, “growing tip of faith remains intact and will see us through to brighter and better days. 

The other vital ingredient is, of course, our roots which anchor us in the knowledge of God’s love for us. Never let anyone, including yourself, make you give up on the fact that God loves you. Never let anything that happens to you, or that you do to yourself, make you feel that you are forgotten, judged or abandoned by your Heavenly Father. You and I are incapable of turning God against us and the only person who can walk away from the relationship is you. God will never walk away from you whatever the circumstances of your life.

Our roots are our foundation, like the person who built his/her house upon the rock. The rain came down, the wind roared, the virus was unleashed, the slugs nibbled and the frost bit hard, but the house stood firm! This is what faith does for those of us who, however poorly, put our trust and faith in our loving Heavenly Father.

As for our tatty and battered leaves, who cares! God certainly does not! You do not have to stand at the Gates of Heaven in a dinner suit or ball gown……it’s not a black tie affair……in fact the tattier you are……the more you’re welcomed and undoubtedly loved……………….Amen.

I do hope these letters are helpful in keeping your spirits up and your faith alive. There is no pretence that any of this is easy because life as a whole isn’t easy (at least that’s my experience) but there is hope and there is love both here on earth and in heaven. And these words are written with love for you and with a prayer that you are kept safe and sound. I’m here if you need me and if I can be of any help. 

Love and Blessings from Peter

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