From treasures – to treasured.

My soul he doth restore again

and me to walk doth make

within the paths of righteousness

e’en for his own name’s sake.

23rd Psalm v 2

Mom died some years ago. After he death there was the responsibility of looking after her affairs. I had lived in that house for the first twenty years of my life, so there were many memories, both good and bad. There was a mountain of paperwork which had been added to for several years. It all had to be gone through and sorted. The furniture had to go and the house put up for sale. There were pictures and cards which she had collected for many years. It brought back so many memories.

Some of the most poignant memories were of my late big brother. She had kept old school reports, as well as the expected school photos, university photos, papers he had written over the years. we opened one dressing table drawer to discover old school books, one from when he had been in his first year at school. There was another couple of chapters on a book dedicated to neurophysiology. It must have been written for first year students. I could actually understand it!

There were one or two one or two special items I kept for old times sake. It brought me back to old memories of my own, Peter’s stories about Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens and his time living in Denmark. He had brought us back prints of “The Mermaid” add the city. They adorned the walls of our house until the time after so many years that the pictures had faded to such an extent there was little we could do with them and they were sadly relegated to the “throw” pile.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a “things” girl. I rely more on memories and images in my head of the thins which matter to me. They are good enough – or they will be until the memory fades. But in spite of that, there are many people who find comfort in items which link them to the past.

Part of our teatime viewing recently has been a TV programme called “The repair Shop”. Fond memories are attached to some items. They are brought to the repair shop for a restoration job. They are recovered from attics, left by relatives. Their owners bring them in for what is described as a sympathetic restoration – old soft toys, bikes, cars, furniture, clocks and machines. They are taken in by the artisans who use their expertise to clean, repair and to recover some of their old use. The clients tell a little of their stories, some poignant, many full of happy memories of a bygone time. They are a gentle reminder of long past memories. I described them as sympathetic restorations, keeping the scratches and the essence of their old life, past damage incorporated and preserved as part of their charm.

This story relates to the good old Psalm 23. “My soul he doth restore” The Lord my Shepherd who seeks out the lost. He takes us as we are imperfect and scarred. He makes us as new. Cleaned and restored, but still scarred and damaged, offering our imperfect love and asking for the strength to travel on life’s journey. Restoration. But we remain with the memories of who we were, as well as the knowledge of who we are now, and the road we have traveled to get here. We too need to accept our imperfections. Those life scars are a part of our charm. Then we will be given the strength in order to continue in the knowledge that like those retored items we too are loved and have our part to play.

Walking through the wilderness – dry land.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up. When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said “Here I am” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Then he said, “I am the Lord God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this Moses his his face because he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt……. “So now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I. that I should go to pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that it is I who have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3 1-7a 10-12

We know that Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. He prayed and he fasted, seeking to find the path his ministry would follow. He learned that he was not to give in to personal need, even when fasting in the wilderness. He should not give in to the emotional needs of being cared for and kept safe. Nor should he crave power and fame. That was not the way of his fathers plans – for him- for the world. His personal needs came last. His fathers wishes came before anything else, even when it was hard.E

Jesus was to be the fulfillment of many prophecies. Some were from the Old Testament prophets, others from those who recognised his role from before his birth. Stories told him by his parents about how he was to become wonderful, counsellor, a light to light the way for the Gentiles and bring glory to the people of Israel.

Moses was struck by the unexpectedness of seeing God in the harshness of his environment. His people the Israelites found themselves as slaves, suffering and struggling under the cruel Egyptian regime. Remember the story of Moses being rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter. He had a keen understanding of the contrast between the luxury of a pharaoh’s palace and the cruel regime his people endured during their time of slavery under Egyptian rule.

Then, seeing his God present in those searing flames bursting from the bush, he understood the role he was to play in leading his struggling people. He was to lead them to a land of freedom, a plentiful land – flowing with milk and honey.

John the Baptist had emerged from the wilderness to call the people to repentance and to be baptised. Jesus had spent time in the wilderness to think about the plans his Father had for him. None of them were alone. God was with John, with Jesus and with Moses too.

Do we hear the call? And when we hear the call do we find the challenge impossible and walk away? remember the words God gave to Moses when he Said to God ” I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? God answered “I will be with you”

So when we next have that awesome moment, instead of continuing our journey will we hear the Father God calling us and saying, “Bring justice to your land” Whe we turn our backs and say “this is impossible,” perhaps we can hear his words as he says to us “I will be with you”

Our prayer for today

Father God,

we seek to find you

in those awesome moments.

Those moments when we

find you in beauty,

in glory,

in the racing clouds,

in the glorious sun,

in peace

and in joy,

in the pain and the struggle.

Lord I want to stay with you

in the harshness

in the cruelty

in the ravages

of the world

in which we live.

Before I turn away and say “I can’t”

remind me that you are the all in all,

that when I attempt

to answer your call,

remind me that I am not alone.

Remind me that you are with me

as you were with Moses,

the prophets,

with John

and with our Lord Jesus Christ.

You are with all those you call,

that we might respond

with glad hearts,

with grateful hearts

and a determined spirit,

that in all things

Your will might be done.

Amen

Salads? or oak trees?

“The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which a man took   and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all  our seeds, it is the  largest of garden plants and  becomes a tree, so the birds of the air come and perch in its . branches.”

Matthew 13 v 31-32

I like the idea of growing things. The house we have moved to has a very small garden. At some point I will organise a small herb garden and grow a small selection of rosemary and mint, but for now I want to add extra flavour to my salads. So I’ve arranged a saucer at the kitchen window lined with wet kitchen paper and sprinkled with mustard and cress. I will water it regularly. It will seek the summer sun and sleep in the darkness. The tiny green leaves will add heat to spice up my salad.

Science tells us that plants need air, warmth, moisture and light to let them grow, whether it be a seedling to flavour the salad or a tree in which the birds can rest.

I’m only talking about a leaf to add flavour. Jesus was talking about —-

Lord, you are speaking

of something much greater

than my tiny seed.

You speak of tiny seeds

which grow into trees.

Like acorns into oak trees.

So here I am

with my tiny seeds

in their tiny tray,

wet with water

from the tap

turning towards

the light from the window.

Yet your word

is like those tiny seeds.

Your words fall

upon my heart

gently

silently

without my knowing.

Like all seeds,

there is the need

for space,

for light

for warmth to surround it.

Conditions

where the seed

might grow.

where your word might grow.

Your light will feed my seed.

the warmth

that will radiate.

The light

towards which

my seed might grow.

You give me free choice

the space

in which to make

my choices,

be they good or bad,

and when the sun

is blocked by shadows

and my seed is

shrouded in darkness,

then the seed is watered by

the tears of pain

the sorrows of this world

then my seed can grow.

It can face towards the light

and face you,

growing up strong and true.

May the seeds we grow

grow in your light,

fed by your love,

watered by our tears of anguish,

that your world may be filled

with the seeds

and the leaves

and the trees

which forest the earth

with the fruits of your love.

Amen