Pentecost 13B, 2000
Song of Songs (Selected verses)
A Liturgy is also available
WE DON’T THINK MUCH ABOUT SPRING UNTIL...
The long awaited day has arrived!
The start of the new school holidays.
It now means parents can lovingly offer their children
up for temporary adoption - to grandparents.
It also means that others can begin the rounds
of the Saturday morning taxi service to sport.
And by the way - it also means winter is coming to an end.
The days are lengthening.
The lawn is growing.
The trees are out in blossom.
Winter, the season of fear, is giving way to Spring, the season of hope.
Several years ago I purchased a book of meditations by Max Coots, called Seasons of the self.
As the title suggests it is a book of meditations on the seasons of the year,
but presented in a very personal way.
In one of those meditations, Coots talks about the coming of Spring,
when the snow melts and frosts subside
and we begin to discover all the things...
dried up leaves.
All the things we had forgotten about because they were covered over
by the snow or frost that lay over the ground.
And then he writes this:
“...soon we turn to raking up and burning up.
“Spring is a courage after Winter-weakness
that sends us to cleaning out,
as though the dirt that Winter stored
must be chased away like ancient witches.
“Spring is a courage.
It lets the empty stem of the cherry fall free to look as dead
as it had been when it stood tall in Wintertime.
“Spring is a courage that lets the old things die
and scatters them across our eyes -
the things that ought to be done and over with.
“Spring is not so much a dying time
as it is a time that shows what has already died.
It’s not an easy sight!
“There ought to be a season
when we have to recognise the living from the dead...
“Spring is a finishing, but it is a beginning too...”
In Winter we don’t think much about growth, or living things.
With the coming of Spring we are reminded
that out of death there can come new birth,
if we nurture it,
care for it,
But Spring also shows us that naturekind
and humankind are continually in relationship.
In the process of God’s creativity, as told by the storyteller in Genesis,
we see the interplay between naturekind and humankind.
A great light was divided in two...
Light was ingredient to the survival of plants and creatures,
as a means of photosynthesis,
as a means of evaporation,
and as a measure of time.
Dry land was formed...
This formed the habitats of diverse creatures.
Plant life emerged with instrumental value
as a source of food
and soil nutrients.
Creatures evolved into more complex relationships
of birds, fish, cattle... and humans.
Humans were equipped and called to be responsible for the care of naturekind.
They were also intended to be in relationship with each other.
With this relationship,
humans were charged to be fruitful and multiply,
and to create a community through loving inter-relationships.
And the storyteller says: God experienced great joy in creation...
In a unique way God related to humankind,
because humankind is called to be the image of God.
Embodying something God-like
in the care of nature,
in human loving,
But during Winter we don’t think much about these things.
It is only when Spring arrives and washes away the fear of Winter
do we also see the pollution left behind,
and we begin to start again to grow and bloom.
Spring reminds us and calls us forward to a ‘new’ religious sensitivity.
Away from just a development of an inner, personal spiritual life
at the expense of the world community.
We need to reconstruct a way of thinking theologically
which will require humans to remember
their kinship with creaturekind.
And the value of relationships, one with each other,
in a new sense of ‘community’,
in a ‘new’ religious expression.
The ‘old’ religion was centred on the individual.
The ‘new’ religion needs to be centred in relationships.
Jesus attempted to model this kind of community to his followers.
But for several reasons, some chose to turn away.
His model of community was too demanding.
They wanted to remain individuals,
so their own needs,
so their own sense of power, could be satisfied.
They could not see reaching out to others -
both out of concern
as well as out of respect for the value of the other person -
they were stunting their own life.
Those who turned away were people of Winter.
People of fear.
People of a small ‘size’...
To live the ‘new’ religious sensitivity which Jesus modelled,
requires us to become people of ‘S-I-Z-E’.
When we do we begin to live in hope
and can share in the dream started by the Galilean.
Cootes, M. 1971. Seasons Of The Self. TN: Nashville. Abingdon.