Each month we select a Bible reading, a sermon extract, article or prayer which has been use in one of our services and which has a particular message for us all at this time.

Letter October 2017

Earlier this month, I took a trip down to Cardiff to spend some time with my mother, brother and sisters. I travelled by coach from Scarborough and we stopped at Hull, Doncaster, Nottingham and Birmingham on the way. Crawling along in traffic on busy city streets is never much fun but it did give me chance to notice the flowers of all shapes and colours that adorn railings and street lamps in such great numbers, bringing the grey streets to life.

What really impacted me were those delicate flowers, perfectly formed and vividly coloured, growing with such enthusiasm in such unpleasant conditions. Surrounded by dirty buses, cars and trucks and toxic fumes day and night, they nevertheless grew profusely, lavishing their beauty on anyone who cared to look at them.

How did these tender plants thrive in such a disagreeable place? The answer is that their food and nutrients were not coming from the polluted air around them but from the vitamins and minerals in the soil in which they were planted. They were drawing water from the rain and energy from the sun and even the dirt and grit that must have covered them did not stop them from being vibrant and healthy. They couldn’t have been more beautiful if they were growing in a lush meadow beside a mountain stream.

Contemplating these hardy, irrepressible living things made me realise how often we blame our environments or our circumstances for our lack of growth or productivity. Our problem is not our surroundings but the fact that we are looking for nourishment in the wrong place.

If we have given our lives to Jesus and put our trust in Him, then He has planted us firmly in the good soil of his love and truth. This is where we were created to be! This soil is full of the nutrients we need to thrive spiritually, mentally and physically but we have to grow roots and send them deep into the soil to draw up this rich nourishment. These roots give us access to the moisture we need in a drought; they keep us steady in the wind and warm in the frost.

We can’t survive as Christians by sending out ‘air roots’ like orchids. On their own, the people and things of the world – our careers, entertainment, possessions, even our families – have a very limited effectiveness when it comes to developing our most important relationship, the one we have with Jesus. From our intimate bond with our Creator and Saviour flows everything good and attractive and beneficial in our lives. When we are deeply connected to Him, ‘all things work together for good’.

Plants’ roots are smart. They collect information on the physical properties and chemical composition of the soil they are growing through and use that to decide in which direction to continue growing.

‘The one whose confidence is in the Lord will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’ (Jeremiah 17:8)

Imagine yourself as a plant, rooted in Jesus and surrounded by all the people and things that make up your life. Which of them are you most securely connected to? Which of them feeds and nurtures you? What would it mean for you to put down your strongest, deepest roots in the lush, life-giving soil of Jesus?

Elizabeth M.