As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer
Tuesday 26th May 2020
‘Fascination, frustration and patience!’
Since I was a young child, I have always held a fascination with everything connected with the outdoors. I remember sneaking out from home in the evening, cycling a couple of miles out into the country to catch the sound and occasional glimpse of an owl. In the naivety of my teenage years, I even made enquires about working at the local Peak District national park. With no O or A levels my career choices were very limited and common sense finally prevailed and I became a chef. But my fascination with the outdoors has always remained.
I am not a specialist in any one area, but my scope of interest is very broad, expect for flowers and fauna. I have little interest in plants and flowers. When it comes to the garden, apart from mowing the grass and filling holes in the lawn dug by our Westie, I would freely admit to being a horticultural atheist.
My fascination with the outdoors also brings a degree of frustration. Because of the lock down I cannot go hill walking. Days meant for the hills are often cancelled because of unfavourable weather forecasts. It does not make sense to make the long drive to the Cairngorms or Angus Glens merely to get soaked. But my biggest current source of frustration concerns two pairs of birds nesting near the Manse.
Within a few minutes’ walk are a pair of Tawny Owls. Despite my very best efforts at trying to observe them from a safe distance, I simply cannot locate them. I can hear them but cannot see them. They are shy secretive birds. And the place where they hang out is a small, dense area of woodland. The trees are old and gnarled and covered in ivy. A perfect hiding place for a pair of antisocial owls who want to keep themselves to themselves. The same is true of the local Ospreys. I occasionally glimpse them, far off in the distance, but again don’t have a clue to where they are nesting. I think my fascination with the outdoors requires one addional quality – patience!
One of the most interesting characters in the Book of Genesis is Jacob – one of the patriarchs of ancient Israel. Part of Jacob’s story is his love of a young woman called Rachel, the youngest daughter of Laban. The story goes that Jacob was so deeply in love that he offered to work of Laban for seven whole years in exchange for his daughter’s hand in marriage. When his seven years were completed, because of the ancient custom of the elder sister getting married first, Jacob ended up marrying both daughters and then worked for Laban for a further seven years, this time as son-in-law.
In the rather complicated social customs of ancient Israel which includes a man having several wives, there is a small detail that is easily missed. It concerns the connection between love and patience, and our willingness to wait for the things and the people we love. Genesis 29:20: ‘So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.’
There are many things that could be said here, including how time flies when you are in love! But with authentic love there has to be patience. In my love of the outdoors, if I want to see Tawny Owls and Ospreys I am going to have to get over my frustration and be patient. In our relationships with each other, for deep love and understanding to the forged among us, there has to be patience. In our spirituality there has to be patience. In our yearning and learning for God, we have to be prepared to wait. God is seldom in a hurry!
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Chirch
Jacob & Laban
20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
The Vine and the Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other
In our instant 24 hours 7 day a week world we are used to getting what we want in a very short period of time. The online retailer Amazon offers next day delivery on thousands of different items. But the apparent promise of instant fulfilment can skew our perspective and distort our priorities. In the Christian Faith there are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. If our love for God is authentic we will not be satisfied with a shallow spirituality. We will yearn to go deeper. Like pruning a vine to bear fruit, it is a process that lasts a lifetime. There will be frustrations along the way, and patience is not easily learned or acquired. But God is the expert pruner!
Continue to remember all who affect by Covid19
Pray for patience as we await the end of the lockdown and being able to return to our usual routines.
God of love,
plant us in the soil of your grace.
Nurture us with the strength of Christ,
the vine of everlasting life.
Enlighten us with the wisdom of your Spirit,
which flows through us today and all days.
Abide in us,
that we may abide in you
and live in your love.
In your holy name, we pray.
We thank you, gracious God, for Jesus Christ the true vine, with his roots eternally grounded in you. We rejoice that by grace we have been grafted into him, to be branches on a vine which bears the loveliest of all the fruits of earth. Yet we confess that all is not well with the way we live.
Please forgive us for the occasions when
we have been the ones to introduce disease into the vine,
preferring its contamination to the vigour of health.
Forgive us for neglecting to draw deeply on the sap of Life,
for our tendency to wander instead of growing on the framework your provide,
for being content, and sometimes even proud of, a few sparse or undersized fruits,
for the apathy which lets us to go through some seasons without bearing any fruit.
Have mercy on us. Please do not lose patience or sever us completely from the true vine. Rather heal our diseases, discipline and train our wandering tendrils, prune our unfruitful branches and cut away our diseased ones.
May we remain in Christ and he in us, through all the changing seasons of life. Let us delight in bearing the fruits of love which are our true purpose and joy. For your Name’s sake.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
Go now, and love one another,
because love is from God.
Proclaim God’s salvation to every generation.
Remain in Jesus Christ,
and like branches of a vine, draw your life from him.
And may God the vine grower tend you and make you fruitful;
May Christ Jesus abide in you and give you life;
And may the Holy Spirit cast out all fear and fill you with God’s love.
In the name of Christ.