15 December 2019
Warmth in the Frost
Its been a freezing month. Aucklanders simply are not used to the cold frosty weather that July has produced.
We have had requests for means of heating and discovered that the providers of second hand appliances have run out of heathers. There is also no wood for fires available. This is the first time we've had to give a supply of wood to a family who have only had an open fire to heat their house. Those blankets that were lying in the back of the cupboard, unused since the children left home, have also been welcomed. I realised sharply, how terrible it must be to live in poverty in places where the snow lies thick on the ground all winter and not be able to keep warm.
The crisp days with the sun and blue skies are wonderful if one is warm, but not so great if the cold is chilling you right through.
The bare trees look as if they have died and some frost tender plants certainly have. There is good and bad news here because that import from Kenya, Pennisetum clandestinum, the ever-spreading Kikuyu grass, has been hit by the frost as well, with big brown patches revealing where it has been secretly taking over the lawn.
Winter has also stripped away the leafy cover which disguised the rotting fence and the rubbish heap of old tyres in the corner of the car yard down the road. The fragrant tropical vines made the area a place of beauty in the summer, but now we can see that the clean green image was not real, there is a need for a clean up.
Winter has also removed the illusion for many people that they can manage without asking for help and this challenges our warm cosy lives. But this means that people have to communicate and in doing so discover that there is a community which warmly welcomes them and shares resources.
In the second century, the letter of James was written to to another community, to say yes, its good to talk about faith, but if we really respond to God's love already given to us in Jesus, it has practical outcomes which change us and others..
James 2: 1, 8, 14-17.
"My brothers and sisters, do you .. really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? ….You do well if you really fulfill the royal law …, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
The cold reveals more clearly where there is warmth. May we bring the warmth of God's love to others this winter and may we also be ready to ask if we are in need.
On the coldest wettest day recently I looked up and saw the early magnolia, the one which doesn't ever seem to understand that it is winter. It is smothered in blossom and by the plum tree, the scent of jonquils in flower drifts across the path to the cemetery. In the bare branches of winter, new life is already stirring and I guess the even the kikuyu is lying in wait for the warmer weather.
May the God who raised Jesus from the dead and gives everlasting life be with you and warm you with love to have and love to share.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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