November Blog 2023
I wonder which season you lean towards? Autumn approaches with the clocks going back this Saturday evening – meaning the nights drawing in earlier and earlier. I rejoice in the autumn colours, but to be honest I can’t rejoice in much else about this season. I hate the short days, being an outdoor person, and the long dark evenings I find overbearing and bleak, rather than inviting and comforting. But others I know, love the short days giving them an opportunity to snuggle down with a good book and a hot chocolate, or whatever one might fancy.
I seriously have to prepare myself for autumn and winter, so it doesn’t catch me out, counting down the days at least a month ahead, ready for British Summer time to end. But of course, we need autumn and winter, for spring and summer to flourish into being, bringing new life and different colours. I was reminded very recently in my daily Bible readings that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die, before it can bear much fruit. Of course, Jesus was referring to himself as that grain of wheat, but all seeds need to be planted in the ground, buried, which is a kind of death before that seed pushes through the earth, usually in Spring, to grow and bear fruit, flowers, whatever that fruit might be?
I have been reflecting on our parish weekend at Cloverley, where I took a risk and did not invite a guest speaker, but rather two guest worship leaders, Jonty Lees from Devon, and Mirkku Ridanpaa from Chester. The scripture for the weekend was from John 4. vv 23/24 ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, where the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth’. I believe the weekend was an opportunity to receive all that God wanted to give to us, as individuals, and as the Body of Christ, through Jonty and Mirkku’s prophetic and prayerful worship leading. They helped us to be set free to worship our Lord in spirit and in truth, and my prayer is that what we experienced during that weekend will not stay at Cloverley but will pour out from us into the family of God at St. Mark’s, and into our parish, local community and front lines.
Three words came to me during the weekend ‘surrender/trust/freedom’ all surrounded with the love of Jesus.
I felt God was challenging us to surrender the whole of our lives to Him, not keeping particular areas in our own control. I saw Him reaching out to us with His hands asking us to take them, and in so doing putting our trust in Him, and not holding on to things which make us falsely feel safe and secure. And I believe that in our surrendering and trusting in Jesus brings a sense of fearless freedom because He is Love and ‘perfect love casts out all fear’. Surrendering ourselves to God is dying to self so that we may be raised up in Christ, like the grain of wheat. Trusting totally in God may feel like preparing for autumn and winter for those of us who struggle with these seasons, wanting to trust more in what we know and feels familiar and safe. And freedom? Perhaps God is saying to us ‘walk by faith and not by sight’. Don’t be restricted in what you do and held back by fear and failure – go and see what the seeds sown might be producing, look for the good fruit, be expectant, excited and hopeful. Rejoice in all that is good and come to worship God with grateful and thankful hearts. Let us worship Him in spirit and in truth for it is ‘in Christ that we live, and move, and have our being/our identity’. (Acts 17.28).