Thursday, 13 May 2021

Spring reminder of our transformation

SOME years ago, I watched a play performed by some small children about a pond; not any old pond, but a pond full of fish and grubs.

One particular girl was the star of the show. She played a grub who was climbing up a reed.

The fish — the other children — swam around her, telling her that she was idiot, that she was in great danger, that as soon as she got to the top of the reed and disappeared from their view, then, well, sad to say, she would be dead.

But when she disappeared, she broke through the surface into the fresh air, developed beautiful wings, and flew away to a new life elsewhere.

It is a story about resurrection in nature. Our world, our local world here in the Thames Valley, is full of it at the moment.

The decline of nature through autumn into the death of November and December is now making way for new life. The shoots have appeared, the buds have opened, the blossom is on the bough and the birds wake me up each morning by singing in delight at what is happening. I thought that spring was coming early but a cold April has held it back. A warm May will make up for that.

These things are in the order of nature but do they tell us anything of the order of grace?

Jesus often used natural things in his teaching: “A sower went out to sow...”, “Consider the lilies of the field... ”

In fact, most of his teaching was given in parables, that is, stories about nature or natural, human events which actually have a spiritual meaning. They are pointers to our relationships with God and to our future.

A lot of his language is figurative, even about himself — “Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it.”

In short, Jesus teaches us to think; he challenges us. He teaches us about the way we live, the way we treat each other, the way we think, the way to the future.

Many people today have accepted the secular, materialist view of our existence: we are born, we grow, we live, we love, we die, the end. Christians differ, the contradict this view. We are born to know God, to love him and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him for ever in the next.

In the ancient prayer we use at funerals, “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”

God hasn’t created us to snuff us out, but to bring us home to himself. But for that we must be changed, transformed, transfigured; not only our souls, but our bodies too, not only the human race, but the lilies in the field, the lambs in the pasture, every drop of water, every grain of sand, every leaf and blade of grass, all that is, or was or will be, all time, all space, the whole of creation, a process that has already begun in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and celebrated by some children play-acting in a pond.

Fr Michael Sharkey
St Michael’s Church
Sonning Common

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