Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold

BLOSSOM IN THE WILDERNESS BY BISHOP JO

24 Feb 2021, 7:15 p.m.
Church_news Lent

Blossom in the wilderness…

I almost dropped with delight as I looked out of the window from my desk yesterday morning. Not only was it Not Raining, but the sky was blue (for the first time since October, it feels?!) and I saw the very first blossom on a tree that is otherwise bare and brown. O joy! I took the puppy out and we danced together… (though her joy was probably more about a tennis ball). This morning there are a dozens more buds that have burst open.

I don’t think I have EVER felt such joy at the promise of spring following such a long, damp, depressing winter. I have thanked God for the gift of every snowdrop; next I want to count every daffodil. I know I’m not alone in this new-found appreciation so I want to reflect what we might make of it.

First, I think the blossom underlines how the wilderness opens us up to find God more intimately revealed. Israel came to a new understanding of who God was during exile, and discovered that God was more with them in exile than ever before in the Promised Land. The early disciples likewise realised that they had seen the face of God more truly in Christ’s crucifixion than ever before. My experience as a pastor tells me people more often discover God amid struggle than success. Which makes me wonder: where am I looking?

Second is the joy of recognising something that is unchanged by the pandemic. Behold the birds of the heaven, they hoard not, neither do they panic-buy; consider the lilies of the field, they fret not, neither do they lament. The blossom in the wilderness opens my eyes to God’s abundance even amid scarcity. Which helps me not to worry about tomorrow, for God promises to give us everything we need.

Third, the blossom represents the promise of God. It’s a sign of things to come. Already it’s no longer a lone bloom. God promised an end to the OT exile, and that turned out to be much more than simply a geographical return to Jerusalem. Jesus ended exile by bringing about a spiritual return to God. His resurrection demonstrates that the future is always bigger than the past. And so we look forward, reminded by the blossom (and St Paul), that ‘now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.’ Let’s not look back, assuming that the past was somehow stronger or better. We have nothing to fear: our future is held in the palm of God’s hand. Easter is a given. The joy of the gospel is certainly what God has done, but is just as much what God is doing, and is most of all what God will do.

Bishop Jo