18 February 2019
Time of Winter
Dear People of St Johns
There are spring flowers in my garden, right on the shortest day their perfume drifts across the path, when the wind isnít howling in from the west. ďIts winterĒ says everyone. Well, its OUR version of winter. I have just come from winter in Hokkaido. It was Green day, a national holiday and the trees, apart from a few firs, were bare and the only green was where some cabbage like plants were trying hard to push their way up through the snowdrifts. But the people of Sapporo were out rejoicing - it was spring! [which might say a lot about the severity of their winter] I saw winter, they saw spring. But after a while, I too, noticed the cherry blossoms, starting to burst out on the trees. Maybe when the winter is hard the signs of spring are more precious. Now I see, at least for the present, through those Northern peopleís eyes, and our winter looks different. Have you noticed there are flowers and citrus on the trees, colour and green and even warmth in the sun some days, right here where we are. My reference point for what is winter has changed from seeing a wider picture.
When we read the Bible stories we find that Jesus gives us a new perspective, removing the walls and barriers that we build between us and revealing a world where love has the final say and even the boundary of death changes to the beginning of a new journey. He takes us on a path where life comes from death and the last are first and the first are last, those thrown out are gathered in and love and laughter warms hearts as Godís love is shared. This journey changes us, it changes how we see other people and ourselves. We find there is more than we could formerly imagine and the fences we had assumed were fixed are simply not there..
So embrace the winter as part of our living, it does not go on forever and has its own gifts to give. It is a time when the earth rests and waits. Already hidden in the earth, seeds and bulbs are stirring. New life is preparing to burst out in the blossoms of spring..
The winters of grief and loss are part of our living, they are painful and leave us exposed, but there is a promise that surely spring will come and with it new life. Take time to stop and look, see the signs of hope around you, the perfume of a gentle gift, a gracious deed, signs of Godís own loving in our midst.
I leave you with a Celtic prayer .
Do not hurry
as you walk with grief;
it does not help the journey.
do not hurry as you walk with grief.
Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden.
and let Christ speak for you
unspoken words unfinished conversation
will be resolved in him.
Be not disturbed.
Be gentle with the one who walks with grief.
If it is you ,
be gentle with yourself.
walk slowly, pausing often.
Take time, be gentle
as you walk with grief.
May the gentle love of God, shown to us in Jesus be yours and warm you when the days are cold, and may you be as light for others when the nights are long.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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