Dear Friends one of the businesses that has bucked the trend of lockdown have been garden centres and nurseries, perhaps the thought of spending your summer holiday in the back garden has prompted many people to make the most of it.
However there is a down side to having the perfect border or a well manicured lawn. The Department of Agriculture once produced a report that said that over 50% of our native wildflowers were seen as weeds by the public. Weeds – undesirable, without purpose, unwanted by some. Weeds that have to be uprooted or poisoned with weedkiller.
Yet Jesus seemed very fond of weeds, “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27)
Jesus always sought out the company of the undesirable and the unwanted – lepers, Samaritans, women, children, the blind, the deaf, the lame – his severest criticism was for the religious snobs of his day with their watering cans of theological weedkiller.
Sadly in the life of our church we too have been too eager to uproot what we perceive to be ‘weeds’. It is sometimes argued that Christianity with its emphasis on the gospel and conversion is guilty of ‘othering’ – defining different expressions of Christian faith incorrect or not really for us.
As a teenager my youth group took part in a Sunday service where the youth group leader accompanied the singing on his guitar. Before final Amen had stopped reverberating in the rafters, a steward stormed to the front of church and very loudly told us it was the most disgraceful act of worship he had ever seen. The fact that it was his son who was the youth club leader made no difference.
Sadly the youth club ceased to meet a little later and a few years after that the church closed. But the one thing that still annoys me is that out of our small youth group I am the only one left who is active in the life of the church.
We need to let some ‘weeds’ flourish in our little patch, allow others to bring their vibrancy and uniqueness to the life of the Church and give our churches a future to grow into.
*The title of a poem by Jan Sutch Pickard in ‘Dandelions and Thistles’ – Wild Goose Publications, 1999.