Church of England Diocese of Norwich St. Peter, Sheringham

Message from the Minister: The Fifth Sunday of Lent

21 Mar 2021, 1 a.m.

The spring is here. Who has been sowing seeds this week? Do you, like me, then keep looking every day to see if there is any sign of new life? At first there is only a hint of a shoot breaking through, then the plant growth is noticeable until at last there are flowers, which later become fruits and bear seeds themselves. Patience is needed, they will flourish in good time.

Our sowing and reaping season is often quite short, many plants are sown annually, but there are some plants which live for a long time. Olive trees may live for thousands of years, the oldest ever found reputedly to have been 8000 years old. I touched an olive tree in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives which would have been there when Jesus and the disciples frequented the place. There may well have been olive trees growing there then which had been alive when King David was there 1000 years earlier, and Abraham 2000 years before Jesus walked there. The olive branches extend to embrace us over time. Seed from the trees Jesus sheltered under, and undoubtedly many of the prophets before him, including Jeremiah, will be the ancestors of the seed sown on the Mount of Olives today, overlooking Jerusalem.

Jeremiah spoke of a new promised covenant, when people who were scattered would come together again, and the law would be written on their hearts: God would be their God, and they would be God’s people. This was seen as bringing the people of Israel together, but it became clear through his ministry that Jesus was opening the way for all people to be included. When some Greeks approached one of the disciples to find out whether they could meet Jesus, the response Jesus gave was that it was time for him to be glorified. He likened his body to that of a seed, which must die so that new life would grow from it. His death and resurrection was going to be a vital element in the process which would lead to everyone being able to receive the Holy Spirit of God and to have the law of peace and love written on our hearts. Jesus was going to open his arms to embrace everyone ready to die to the old way of life and to follow him.

Like an olive tree, Jesus has extended the life of his teaching and example over 2000 years, to see it bear fruit through all of the good words and deeds and progress made thanks to the work of the people serving him over time. We are promised that there will be no end to this life, a life of love we live and contribute to if we follow him, a life in which we too bear fruit, and produce seed which may yet be sown. Amen.

Julie Rubidge, Lay Minister