I am writing this on the hottest day of the year so far. A day that has followed several very hot days. Before I go on, please know this, I’m not going to moan about the weather. The sun is glorious, its warmth is welcome, the cool waters of Cornwall are invigorating. It can bring the best out of people (and I might add the worst too, out of the hot and bothered), but with the sun out and the blue sky stretching ahead of you, some things seem just a bit more possible than they did before. Those jobs in the allotment you’ve been putting off are there for the taking. The very delayed walk on the beach has come. Even that once lost opportunity to have a long G and T (substitute with drink of choice) with your feet up has now returned. Somehow the world feels a little bit better. Somehow more whole and more restored when the sun is shining.
Having said that, the heat can get a bit much and therefore escaping to the shade is definitely needed from time to time. Additionally, more time should be given to our loved ones who don’t cope as well in the hot weather, in the same way they don’t cope well in the cold. Which is really my point. For some the weather comes as a blessing and for others a curse.
At the beginning of May I was asked to lead a Rogation Service for a neighbouring parish. Rogation Sunday is a very special service in which the community asks for God’s blessing upon the fields, the herds, the newly seeded crops and the tools of farming. In my talk to a church full of farmers I likened good farming to good discipleship. I said, “a good farmer doesn’t just pray for rain, but prepares for it!”. I thought I’d made a strong case for the idea of preparing for God’s blessing and expecting it, rather than praying for it and wondering whether it will come at all.
As soon as I said this, laughter struck a good portion of my audience. After the service one of the farmers came to me and said, “your in Cornwall son, there’s never any need to pray for rain!” He was right, we get plenty of rain.
The bible is full of references to weather. Rain, wind, sun and snow are all described equally as blessing as well as disaster. It is one of the many areas in which Scripture and Science are aligned – in scripture and in textbooks weather is describe as chaotic, unpredictable, uncertain and indeterminate. Yes, we have the seasons, day and night, but even in this ordered creation we still know to fear the weather for its power and ferocity. Sadly, our chaotic weather patterns are more frequently a disaster than they are a blessing due to the impact our 21st century lifestyle is having on the global climate.
Unpredictable weather is also a used as a metaphor in scripture for the unpredictability of life. This was evident in Job’s life, as well as in the disciples who found themselves overwhelmed by the storm over the Sea of Galilee. In every case anchoring one’s self to God was the calming influence both over the waves, wind and thunder, as well as over life’s tempest.
Whilst we still experience one of the hottest summers on record maybe we could think about where one might go to anchor ourselves to God, and keep cool. The coolest places are definitely churches. These old stone buildings that remain open during the day are the perfect refuge from the sun. They are also wonderful places of faith that speak of God’s power over chaos, his comfort in our struggles, and his healing over wounds. Cornwall has many beautiful church buildings why not find some shade!
All Saints Highertown is open most days for prayer and some cool shade. Please pop in, you'd be very welcomed.
Rev Jeremy Putnam
There are times when scripture has to linger and loiter in our minds until we learn its timely relevance. Indeed, there are passages that we know well and have been faithful companions for much of our lives, until that is, we receive a divine nudge that provokes a new perspective, and a sudden change of thought. It was therefore my delight to have such a nudge last week as I prepared for our Sunday service. Psalm 1 ‘…those who delight in the Law of the Lord, are like trees planted by streams of water, yielding much fruit and whose leaf does not wither.’
This passage has always had an element of the prosperity gospel about it. If we trust in the Lord then we will be blessed, in health, wealth and faith. It was often thought that Christians who flourished in practical ways, i.e. nice job, big house, and good health, must have a strong faith in God, since scripture says that those who delight in God are like trees planted by streams of water. I have been guilty myself of thinking that faith in God equals good times.
What we forget is that God’s blessing falls on the faithful and unfaithful alike, he pours his grace upon the righteous as well as the un-righteous. And there are many examples of this in the bible.
During morning prayer this week I’ve been reading about the Exodus and the struggle of God’s people in the wilderness. Despite the lack of faith shown by early Israel God provided manna which fell with the dew on everything and everyone. It reminded me that the sun rises for all; the rain covers the rich and poor; and mercy is shown to the just and unjust alike. So what does the passage from Psalm 1 mean?
It seems that today it is blatantly obvious that we live in an unfair world. Too many still live in extreme poverty, too many still persecuted, too many still at the hands of dictators. Nearer to home, too many need foodbanks, need hand-outs and too many are on waiting lists for life saving surgery. Where’s the manna?
I turn back to Psalm 1, and I am also drawn to John 10:10, to Genesis 1 & 2 and Revelation 21, and I am reminded of the nature of God’s abundant and creative blessing. The tree described in Psalm 1 is the tree of life Jesus Christ, that is planted in us. Despite our physical condition, or what the world throws at us, or where life leads us or what our bank statement looks like, faith in Jesus Christ and accepting him as our Saviour, means we are planted – in the strongest terms for all eternity, like a tree by streams of water. Irrespective of our years, of our mistakes, of our successes, in Jesus, we find a place in the new Eden, as Paul puts it, we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5). So look for Jesus in all things and you will be eternally blessed.
Yours in Christ
A collection of thoughts and reflections from the people of All Saints.