Letter from the Minister.
Rev Phil Summers
Celebrating God in the beauty of autumn
The most trouble I ever got into at school was during assembly. It’s not just that a friend and I were messing about by putting on silly voices and making fun of the Autumnal presentation about trees and the beauty of nature. If it was simply that then we would have been silenced with a sharp ‘shhh!’ and a stern look. No, the main trouble was that my friend and I were the ones leading the assembly. An English teacher had asked us to do it as we were both competent public speakers and we had carefully rehearsed the various readings that accompanied some basic projections of nature at its finest. But, being the arrogant young boys that we were, we felt it was beneath us. Or, to be fair, we saw it as trite, over sentimental and maybe even shallow. Yes, nature is beautiful – as 15-year olds we knew that, but didn’t everyone? There was no need to go on about it in such a soppy way, and so we tried to liven things up by making the whole presentation more interesting with our, playground honed, Monty Python inspired vocal technique.
By the end of the day we were in the headmaster’s office and my partner in crime was banned from taking the lead role in the up and coming school play. We learnt our lesson. Maybe.
As I was thinking about this newsletter, being short of ideas, I thought: ‘What about Autumn?’. But then I thought: ‘not again?’ And I was taken back to that school assembly…lovely trees, blah, blah…beautiful colours, yak, yak… mists and mellow fruitfulness, conkers, frost, and cold November rain…blah. And the risk we all take, not just in the Autumn, is that our approach to the world around us is just the same. We can grow tired of appreciating the beauty and the all-around awesomeness of God’s creation. Note, not weary of nature, but of our appreciation of it. We see it and walk on by. When God sees what s/he has made, the response is an echo in the very depth of his being crying out ‘It is good!’. And we need to see the world around us with God’s heart. Here in Gloucestershire we are surrounded by incredible countryside, with amazing views around every corner, and we need to see it once again. Not to just rush on by, but to know it and treasure it. Find words, or stillness, or song to appreciate and love it – and so celebrate the God of all creation, in whose image we are made. Echo her sentiments of goodness and rejoicing.
As a teenage boy I was not wise enough to understand it. I wasn’t able to grasp how my very existence is interwoven with the creation around me and to celebrate that connectedness is to celebrate the Spirit of God in all of us. But maybe something in me told me that a few pictures and a couple of poems was not good enough to celebrate what God has put in the very core of all of us. I suppose I was longing for more but at that age had no understanding that that’s what I needed. Now I’m older and wiser, and so I’m even more foolish when I take God’s wondrous natural world for granted.
May you know the love of Christ in every falling leaf, in every shower of rain and in all the mists of Autumn.