Church of England Diocese of Manchester Kirklees Valley

2 d) 'Gardens' - Lent Reflections by Derek Akker - Week 4

There is Hope in the Garden

(All Things bright and beautiful)

+ In the name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he pastures his flock among the lilies. (Song of Songs 6:2-3)

And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin,<sup> </sup>yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.<sup> </sup>But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)

The fourth Sunday of Lent is celebrated, according to our Lectionary, as a Festival, Mothering Sunday. It is an opportunity to bring some colour into the church, the yellows and white of the Narcissus or Primula plants. These flowers and plants often become gifts for the women in the church recognising the importance of the role of motherhood, with any surplus being taken home and shared with neighbours.

What were the lilies of the field? It is suggested that as there was a variety of vibrant wild flowers growing around Galilee, Jesus could have been referring to these. These wild flowers from Galilee now have a cultivated form that are present in our gardens: poppies, crocus, anemone, ang narcissus, iris and the hyacinth could have been the lilies referred to in Song of Songs.

For those who get pleasure from searching the internet, type in ‘the bible garden’ and find (Charles Sturt University Australia) It has a range of plants with photographs.

Having mentioned the internet, if you type in Lilies of the Field, Wikipedia refers to a P G Wodehouse quote ‘the idle rich who do no labour’. I will that thought with you!

But back to our gardens.  It is good to view our gardens as places of colour, fragrances, and the wonderful varieties and sizes of plant. There is so much to be viewed from a distance but also close up. Gaze on your ‘Lilies of the Field’, appreciate them and give thanks.

We gaze at the flowers in our garden, and sometimes bring them into our houses - or perhaps we buy flowers to arrange them, and allow the beauty of their form to brighten up our homes.

Are they not also a constant reminder of the gospel words of Jesus?

Let us pause and reflect on the beauty of flowers and marvel at their complexities and sometimes their sheer simplicities.  Let us also be mindful of the times we take this beauty for granted.

The Beauty of Nature

O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendour of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits, . . . Walter Rauschenbusch

Let us pray with the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

O Lord, grant us the grace to grow deeper in our respect of 
and care for our surroundings
and the wider world, for they are your Creation.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Lord, grant us the grace to see, feel and sense the beauty of our gardens,
and the sacred spaces they create in the midst of our concerns.
Forgive us for the times we take the beauty of your creation for granted.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Lord, help us to recognise the sacredness of all of your
creatures that we may see them as signs of your wondrous love.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Lord, help us turn from the selfish consumption and self-indulgent behaviour towards the resources meant for all and to see the impacts of our choices on the poor and vulnerable, and the wider environment.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We sing or read the words of hymn ‘All things bright and beautiful’

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their little wings.

The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well<span style="font-size: 1rem;">.                Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander</span>

+ To God the Father, who created the world;

to God the Son, who redeemed the world;

to God the Holy Spirit, who sustains the world;

be praise and glory, now and for ever. Amen (David Adam)