For those of you that attended our recent Harvest celebration, or that watched online, you will remember that we were encouraged to reflect on the generosity of God, of his abundant and continued provision in, through and for his creation, and to see all of creation as a gift of God’s grace.
A chance to reflect on God’s abundance, was perhaps a welcome contrast to the chaos of the fuel crisis, the ever looming uncertainty of COVID and future restrictions, and the rather bleak predictions of shortages of food and goods over the coming months.
The ‘is Britain running on empty’ headline, fits uncomfortably alongside the gospel reading for that day, which encouraged us to look to the birds of the air that neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and to the lilies of the field, that neither toil nor spin. These seen together, draw something of a contrast between God’s provision and the experience of shortage, but perhaps the contrast would be better drawn between His provision in and for His creation, and our exploitation of it. This is maybe particularly meaningful in consideration of the fuel crisis, and indeed of the ensuing chaos and repercussions.
However, it seems to me to also say something profound about the witness of nature itself, as we look to the birds and the air and the lilies of the field we can feel a sense of freedom, simplicity and continuity. Maybe that is why Jesus draws our attention to them.
As we continue to sow, to reap, to gather into barns, to toil and to spin, we perhaps need to allow our attention to be once again drawn to the witness of God’s provision that is attested to within the natural world around us.
The witness of nature has become especially meaningful for me this year. An excess of time alone, of course been exacerbated by lockdown and social restrictions, has meant that solitude and quiet reflection doesn’t quite allow me to connect with God in the way that it once did.
What has been needed then has been something of a spiritual change, looking increasingly to nature, to God’s fingerprints within His creation, as I walk some of the footpaths that criss-cross the country side nearby. The regularity of this, and the things that I have seen along the way, shown me not only the consistency, but also the ever changing, that is to found within nature. These all bear witness to an unchanging God, a God that, in the person of Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever, but that continues to meet us where we are in new and fresh ways as he reaches to us in love, in an ever changing world, or certainly an often changing experience.
So as we leave behind what has been an unusually warm September, we do so with the anticipation of darker evenings, colder weather and a looming winter. Yet we are reminded that for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. So may we continue to find our unchanging God, revealed to us in new and fresh ways.
Rev Matt Grove
Curate of Christ Church Portsdown
and St Johns Purbrook