I woke up early this morning, but the sun had already been up for a while. I lay in bed looking out of the big window at the back garden. The honeyeaters and blackbirds and sparrows were all busy at their work. I couldn’t see the blue tongue, but I imagine he – or she – will creep out later for a sunbathe.
The lemon tree is full of lemons and flowers. It always fruits and flowers at the same time, and all year round too. I often pick half a dozen and give them to my next-door neighbour. She drinks half a squeezed lemon with hot water every morning. It is apparently her miracle cure for aches and pains, or combatting ageing – curing everything I suspect.
The giant daisy needs its annual prune, and the westringia and potato vine need shaping and reining in. I can see what looks like a big ivy leaf that has forced its way through from another neighbour. That ivy was determined to win the battle of the fencing last year, and it seems like it’s back for another round. The roses and geraniums are thriving, but need deadheading. From my bed I can make out a single yellow leaf on the silver birch, which is very early.
The lawn is looking much better than it usually does in January. Those recent rains have been a blessing in this neck of the woods. I mowed the lawns and tidied up the edges earlier in the week. It was good to be back in the garden, among the insect and birdlife, and tending to things. There is quite a list though of jobs to do. In truth, I’ve been neglecting the garden lately. The build-up to Christmas was so busy, and before that, I spent every spare moment hiking in the bush for spring orchids. So, while it was good to begin today looking at the freshly mown lawn, maybe I shouldn’t leave it quite so long next time…
The lessons of Advent, at the start of the church year, focus on hope, peace, joy and love – as we reflect on the great gift of the Incarnation. At Clayton Wesley, we reflected on what it means to receive the Good News, to say yes to God’s initiative in our lives, and to experience the possibility of hope, peace, joy and love that flow from a relationship with God. We meditated on verses like “there is surely a hope for you,” “in peace I will lie down and sleep,” “you shall go out with joy,” and “write love on your heart.” Words of promise and encouragement.
The lessons that follow Christmas, as we enter a new calendar year feel quite different though. There is an energy to them. The lessons begin with Epiphany, and those folks from the east journeying after the special star, carrying treasures but in search of a greater Treasure. Then we see Jesus calling Philip and Nathanael – follow Me, believe in Me. Next, we see Jesus calling Andrew and Peter, James & John – follow Me, be My disciples and I will make you fishers of men! There is work for you to do in My mission… And the Old Testament readings show God calling Samuel and God calling Jonah, with work for both to do for Him. All these calling encounters tell us to look up and listen, to open our ears and listen, stop what we’re doing and listen – and then get moving!
After weeks reflecting on Jesus as God’s great gift of love to the world, it is now time to spread His message of hope, peace, joy, love and light to a waiting and needy world. To leave our armchairs and get to work. In the same way that it is time to get back into my garden and tackle the outstanding jobs, it is time to get to work for the sake of the Gospel. “Look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest,” says Jesus. Where are the labourers?
I’ve an old wheelbarrow that is gradually being claimed by the honeysuckle. Is my spiritual life tangled-up with distractions and hindrances? Am I being rendered ineffective because I’ve been stationary for too long. For sure, the Gospel would have me in active service, working for the Kingdom, not in my armchair. St Teresa of Avila said it so well:
“God of love, help us to remember that Christ has no body on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours are the eyes to see the needs of the world. Ours are the hands with which to bless everyone now. Ours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good.”
Indeed. Now is the time to get to work.
Scripture refs. from Prov 23:18, Ps 4:8, Is 55:12, Prov 3:3, Jn 4:35, Mt 9:37-8, Heb 12:1-2.