Sylvia rethinks Lent.

Sylvia rethinks Lent.

Sylvia sat in church the week after Ash Wednesday. She was feeling a bit disconnected, not really able to get into the stories about ashes, and pancakes, that had been part of the week. She wondered, why make pancakes and eat up all the eggs and milk, when you just had to go to the supermarket and get some more. What a silly tradition. And what if her grandchildren asked her to make her special blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes for them when they stayed the night with her? She felt that giving things up like pancakes just seemed artificial and irrelevant.

Sylvia started to wonder about Lent. The words of the opening hymn were sticking in her mind – ‘forty days and forty nights, thou wast fasting in the wild’. Well, fasting for forty days was obviously not going to work, not when she had to take her pills with food, and keep her carbohydrate intake even.

But the idea of being ‘in the wild’ for forty days, now that was appealing! Imagine a time of having none of the usual distractions, none of the shopping and the housework, or those phone calls where they said there was something wrong with the computer she didn’t have, or the noisy kids next door, none of the worry about the bills that kept coming through the letterbox, none of the doctor’s visits… Sylvia started to contemplate how she could find a wilderness to escape from her daily grind.

Well, she thought, I can get rid of the distractions. And the weather seems to be helping there – it’s getting darker in the mornings, it’s not so appealing to rush into the garden. Even the garden was winding down for autumn, flowers were finishing, leaves starting to turn..

Yes, thought Sylvia, that’s it! I’ll copy my garden! I’ll drop my leaves – get rid of what I don’t need in my life, like, like,… like chasing after friends who never call me back, and who seem content to go through their list of woes without once asking after mine. I’ll give up reading the junk mail from the shops where I never go, looking at things I don’t even want, and couldn’t afford if I did!

Yes, I’ll drop my leaves.

And then, she thought, maybe I’ll  tend myself as I tend the garden – after taking away the dead and finished  stems, I’ll mulch and compost.

How can I compost myself? She started to giggle as she thought about the last time she had turned the compost, and a shovelful had flung over her head. She remembered the worm that was still in her hair two hours later which had given her granddaughter such a fright.

Shh! Glared the couple in front of her at church.

Well, let them, Sylvia thought. They’re listening to the sermon, but I can’t really concentrate.

Yes, compost , that was it. I’ll feed my soul. I’ll read things that make me grow, I’ll listen to music that will build my faith, I’ll stop and let my roots grow deep and let God feed me. And then, maybe I’ll be like my apple tree, looking barren and lifeless but knowing that deep inside life is there, gaining strength, waiting to bring beauty and fruit.

Sermon: Temptations in the Wilderness


(For a rest home)

Luke 4:1-13

The gospel we have heard is about the three temptations, where the devil tempted Jesus. Now if the devil can tempt the son of God, it will come as no surprise that the devil can tempt us. Perhaps temptations were easier to see and succumb to when many of you were younger – after all, some of the more fleshly things we can be tempted to are not so easy as we get older. For example, it may have been easy to Continue reading

Santa hats everywhere

My kids are getting really excited about Christmas, especially my 5 year old son. The kids had to  dress up for the Christmas disco at school, so they got all the Santa hats and decorations out, sorted out their costumes, and put all the stuff away tidily. (Wishful thinking…)

No they didn’t, they decorated the living room within an inch of its life – tinsel along the couches, tree skirts around the teddies, and what looked like a mannequin of Santa in the corner. I looked again – we don’t have a mannequin! What we do have temporarily is a large wooden cross, about as tall as my young Nathan (5) – it’s here while I find it a new home. Nathan had put a Santa jacket on the arms of the cross, and a Santa hat on the top, and tinsel around the neck bit!

It was a really odd image – the Cross, the icon of atonement, salvation, resurrection, covered over with gaudy cheap red material and white fluff.

Isn’t that how Christmas is getitng these days? The core idea, the real reason for our celebraiton, covered over by silly costumes and hype.

May we uncover our crosses at Christmas time, keep the Santa suits in their place, which is not the central place. Jesus is coming – born as a baby long ago, and born in our hearts today.