This weekend we finally came up with a plan for overhauling our garden. Currently we are allowed to have up to 6 people, or two families in our garden – soon increasing further. However I’m not sure 6 people would really like to be in our garden at the moment: the previous occupants had a great liking for ugly concrete paving slabs, poorly laid and the “lawn” is infested with nettles and dandelions (to be honest, the yellow flowers do bring some much needed colour). While we have set about making changes to the house since we moved in a year ago we haven’t paid any attention to the garden, so it’s left as a bit of an eyesore.
This week we are looking at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in Life Groups and on Sunday. Sometimes I get a bit distracted in these passages as I try to picture them – I’d like to think of Gethsemane as a ornate garden in a cottage style – full of deep beds with flowers and shady benches, but I suspect the reality was rather more prosaic. We read it was an olive grove and what it did offer was a sense of seclusion and retreat. This was where Jesus had chosen as his place to meet with God on what he knew to be his last night. Here he could be with his closest companions and pray.
As we reflected on the passage this evening, this sense of place remained with me as something I think we may neglect and gloss over in our setting. When we don’t have a physical home to meet in, and can’t meet together anyway because of Covid, it is natural to focus on more intangible points of connection – community, understanding what God is doing and has done in his word, compassion for those around us. Even in our homes we can struggle to make special and sacred places to retreat to, not helped when we are spending more time than usual in one place.
However this sense of place and space is potentially something we need to allow us to meet with God. It isn’t that God is absent, or we cannot connect with him outside of some sacred building, but that in order for us to enter the mindset that engages with his voice we need to be in the right space, physically for that to happen. This has been my particular struggle with meeting virtually – I feel the need to go, out of my normal pattern and routine, to somewhere to worship to really be available. In a sense I need to meet with God physically as well as spiritually.
Yet I think it is still possible to create those spaces. Just like the garden we have planned will take a lot of work, so we need to be prepared to put in the work to make the spaces we use to meet with God conducive to hearing his voice. Although he will always be with us, we can’t expect to enter his presence as simply as walking into a room. Soon we will be able to meet together in the new District Centre and I’m really looking forward to it. However there will also be a lot of work needed to make sure we are ready for it. Not only will we need to complete paperwork, risk assessments and plan out how things will work practically, but we will need to work together to make it a sacred space for us to meet God in. We will need to listen to him and each other as we prepare the ground for worship – establishing how we meet again and ensuring the space draws us closer to him. This doesn’t come without challenges, it isn’t our building after all, but it does provide us with a real opportunity to create somewhere that brings people closer to God.
Prayers contributed by Josie
ST GEORGE: PATRON SAINT OF ENGLAND
Last Friday was St George’s day. The English are not so good at remembering their day as other countries but in West Hagbourne they always have a display of dragons with or without St George! George is also patron saint of Ethiopia and Greece
Prayer for St George and for England
We thank you for the life and witness of George as he stood firm for the faith in his day and generation. We pray for England. Bless our nation help us to follow his good example and make us faithful to the message of the gospel.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Pray for St George and Ethiopia & Greece
Heavenly Father, We also pray for Ethiopia in a time of civil war and Greece in a time of economic difficulties. Help them to look to the example of George and face up to difficult times with faith and courage. We pray for the churches in both these counties as their leaders give support and encouragement where needed.