The vicar went to a garden centre. On his own. Of his own volition.
Don’t get too excited. I haven’t become Monty Don or <insert current TV garden guru>. It involved a power tool and so probably doesn’t really count as a gardening thing at all. I bought a strimmer. My current strimmer is a bit feeble and on its way out, so I’ve bought one with a better spec that can handle the vicarage garden. One of those with plastic blades rather than the plastic twine that always breaks on me. It’s a Stihl. Other strimmers are available.
I like power tools. I also like strimmers, for one thing because the name was invented by the first strimmer maker sometime in the 1970s (there’s a piece of pointless information for you) and I do enjoy neologisms. More importantly I also like strimmers because they make edges visible. I think edges are very important. So, a power tool that helps reveal edges: what’s not to like?
Edges, eh? What’s this got to do with anything? you think. Well... In this wonderful cosmos of ours the edges of things are generally where energy is most prominent, most “available” to make things happen.
The science bit:
One of my research projects, way back, was about stopping bacteria growing on the painted surfaces of ships hulls (it increases drag and therefore fuel consumption). Bacteria like to stick to surfaces because thats where the food often sticks too. The surface of any body of water is always the mosts energetically productive part. It’s like that all through nature: surfaces, edges, are more chemically active, more biologically active and, as you get into larger settings like human society, the edges are where things happen more radically, more energetically.
Where cultures meet is where things are most likely to happen. Unfortunately, we tend only to big-up the negative aspects of this. So, we notice wars and dissent when cultures collide. Ukraine is a problem because it is a different place to Russia and Mr Putin wants to make it his. The Balkans too are an edge (historically) between East and West. Boundaries (edges) between nations, societies, political systems, all throw up troublesome times and it’s not surprising since that is where the energy is, and we all need energy to live.
It is not all negative however. In fact, I’d like to suggest that it is mostly positive but that we are too attracted to the negative. Where there is conflict that comes over through edges and boundaries, so often there is a beauty in that difference that is being missed. The abundance of our created world is everywhere, and yet often hidden because we can’t see the value of the differences, the edges, where the wealth of abundance is to be found. What we do, instead, is often to fear the difference because it challenges our desire for predictability. And so we resist the edges.
Instead, the abundance, the energy, that concentrates at the edges between our societies, our cultures and our basic differences, is where we find the true beauty of the world. I like to think it is where we can discover God in God’s most available form, and where we can be energised by the divine presence in the world.
Rather than retreating from the edges of our existence, my strimmer is a reminder that we should reveal the edges: make them manageable and understandable.
Given the significant rise in cases locally (not just among the clergy!), I think it is important that we reconsider the way we distribute communion. For the present time, until things settle down again, we will be reverting to the previous system of “priestly intinction” whereby the president offers an “intincted” wafer to communicants. Please do not feel obliged to receive the wine in this way. It is perfectly acceptable to receive only the bread: please let the president know.
Get your thinking caps on for a fun flled quiz evening kindly hosted by Chris Barrington. Prize for the winning team. Followed by raffle. £10 per team of 4. In advance.
A Pop up Pub will also be available with a good selection of drinks on offer for a suggested donation.
Father of all,
We hold before you today the country of Ukraine and its people. We have no words to express the sadness we feel for them. We pray that your Holy Spirit will act to bring peace; that violence and brutality will have no place in its lands; that you will hold your people safe
Lord have Mercy
We pray that the people of your world will work together
To protect the poor and the afraid To heal the sick and the dying To free those oppressed and in prison We hold them all before you
Christ have Mercy
We hold before you those we know who are caught up in the situation. We pray for our armed forces. We pray for all those who stand for good in the face of evil. We pray for those hurting and grieving for their country. We hold them all in your love
And above all we pray for hope.
Lord have Mercy
Almighty God, who made all things and sustains all things, we come together remembering the past and full of hope for the future.
We thank you for the part you call us to play in our Benefice's continuing story.
Lord, bind us more closely together and unite us in the work of your kingdom in our communities. Help us to draw on the gifts and talents in our midst and to use them in your service.
May we be a welcoming and loving community, united in worshipping you and open to your guiding Spirit.
Holy Spirit guide us and fill us with vision and energy; make us faithful in prayer and worship, that we may discover your way for the future and see your kingdom grow.
We ask these things in the name of your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Merciful Father and Lord of all life, we praise you that we are made in your image and reflect your truth and light. We thank you for the life of our late Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth, for the love she received from you and showed among us. Above all, we rejoice at your gracious promise to all your servants, living and departed, that we shall rise again at the coming of Christ. And we ask that in due time we may share with your servant Elizabeth that clearer vision promised to us in the same Christ our Lord; who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. For the Lord will not reject for ever.
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.’
Father in Heaven, whose Church on earth is a sign of your heavenly peace, an image of the new and eternal Jerusalem: grant to us in the days of our pilgrimage that, fed with the living bread of heaven and united in the body of your Son, we may be the temple of your presence, the place of your glory on earth, and a sign of your peace in the world; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.