BIBLE STUDY GROUP ISFIELD
Year of Vocation
Coffee, Cake & Christianity
Every Friday from 15th March - 12th April
6.00 - 7.00pm at
The Parsonage, Station Road, Isfield
I heard a story about a young boy in India, who every day, fed a little group of some dozen Stray Street dogs in his village. He would beg scraps, then feed the little pack who came to depend on him.
One day a man – in exasperation – asked him “The world is full of stray dogs – what difference does feeding these few make?”
The little boy lent down and patted the head of the smallest dog. “Yes” he said, the world is full of stray dogs, but for these little dogs what I am doing means all the world.”
The world around us, as we journey further into 2019, feels an insecure and unstable place: we can feel alone, overwhelmed and lost. But each of us has our own little bit of the world, with friends, neighbours, families, in which we can make a difference. We can’t change the world, but we can make that little bit of it we inhabit better, happier more positive.
This month on 6th March, Lent will begin with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a good time to review our lives, to look at the way the world impacts on us and we on the world. I commend using the great passage from Chapter 13 of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, vs 4-6 as a template:
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
We can ask ourselves, reflecting back on each day – when have I been impatient, or envious or boastful or arrogant or rude? Have I bulldozed my own way through, riding roughshod over somebody else? Have I taken out my irritability on someone else or been resentful? When have I been colluded with bad behaviour? If we ask ourselves these questions honestly, we can amend our behaviour in the little bit of the world we inhabit, and so make it - & our hearts & souls – better places.
It will be a Good, Holy and Healing Lent.
“Yes” said the little boy, “the world is full of stray dogs, but for these little dogs what I am doing means all the world.”
Like many birds, I have migrated south for at least part of the winter. I am at Latitude 440 N and if you are reading this in Sussex, you are at about Latitude 500 N. Just for reference the arctic circle is at about 70oN Yes, I am in France again. It is February 13th today and I have been busy mowing the lawn and scaring the sunbathing wall lizards. The occasional brimstone and peacock butterfly was fluttering by as I worked. Yesterday we watched a flock of about 50 common cranes fly over the house on their way north to their breeding grounds. I also watched a black carpenter bee visit the Aubretia flowers on the verandah. However, it has not been all like this, proximity to the Bay of Biscay means that we had about 2 weeks of almost continuous rain until recently. The ditches and rivers are all full and the frogs have been filling them even fuller with their spawn.
The tilting of the earth means that the days are lengthening by a few minutes with each one. I suspect we are all looking forward to the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”. Barn owls and mistle thrushes will be preparing nests as I write. Blackbirds, blue tits and robins will also be showing themselves in pairs as they court and test each other’s credentials as a prospective breeding mate.
Until spring really gets going, finding food is a real problem for any animal in the wild. Diurnal animals will have short days for hunting, long cold nights to get through and many will die leaving only the resilient to pass on another generation.
In ecology, we often say there is no such thing as a disaster, only change. What we humans see as a disastrous storm or cold spell is simply a change in the environment leading to opportunities for some organisms and challenging conditions for others. Cold winters generate cold resilient animals such as polar bears, arctic foxes and reindeer. Hurricane force winds lead to many fallen trees and plenty of dead wood leading to a population explosion of wood boring beetles an increase in woodpeckers that eat them and so on. Even hot weather leads to the generation of heat resilient plants and animals such as cacti and camels. The result is a world full of variety and change.
Church Times - Diary February 2019
I’ve just experienced the longest Sunday Morning Service I’ve ever been to. I was on my usual post Christmas break in Barbados (the tourist police still haven’t caught up with me yet to say that vicars aren’t allowed in the Caribbean, which is a sneaking feeling I get every time I go) and I was in St James, one of the historic Anglican Parish churches on the island. It was the Parish Eucharist with the Baptism of four babies. Two & a half hours it took , including an edifying sermon a smidgeon under 35 minutes. A number of obvious visitors melted away, but the regular congregation took it breezily in their stride. I was impressed. If I tried the same approach in my own Parishes, there would be restlessness at the hour and twenty mark, with an intervention by church officials armed with Churchwardens’ staves at the hour and a half. Mind you, one morning in a spirit of mischief I might be tempted to have a go…..
Barbados is actually a hugely religious island. There are supposedly some 300 churches of assorted denominations dotted around the countryside, as numerous as the Rum Shops. Well, almost. That works out staggeringly as a church per 1000 residents, which puts our church numbers in the shade. As well as the main Anglican parishes (which are the chief administrative units on the island) there are Methodists, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists and pretty much any grouping you can think of. I remember being rather taken with a jaunty little pink hut that called itself the “Little Jerusalem Deliverance Center”- the spelling suggesting it’s American origin, I suspect.
But the presence of the churches is not just physical buildings, but everywhere. One day, a van cut in front of me; it’s back doors were decorated with the sentences “Jesus is coming. Are you ready?”, which took me by surprise. Similarly a number of bus stops have been adopted by church groups who have inscribed “Be still and know that I am God”, which on reflection is a splendid thought for people compelled to sit and wait in bus queues.