Minister's Monthly Letter
In a very happy verse in the Song of Solomon (2:12) there is a proclamation “Now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” – the following verses celebrate the appearance of flowers, bird song and blossom on the trees! They are words that ring true for us.
Years and years ago when I lived in Rochdale and at this time of year I visited someone and in the front garden there was a tree covered in magnificent blossom. After I had been in the house for a while I mentioned the tree. Had they I (who knows almost nothing about gardening) asked used a particular feed, composted the soil in a particular way or were they an expert at pruning? My host smiled gently and invited me to inspect the tree.
We went out into the front garden and he pointed to where I should look and then touch the tree. When I touched the tree it became clear that it was not a short branch I was making contact with but metal – a nail. I turned to my companion with eyebrows raised. The story that followed was smooth with the telling.
Some years before when the family moved into the house there was this flowering cherry tree in the front garden. Every year it produced a fine crop of leaves but it didn’t flower. Advice was sought and all the traditional and predictable remedies were tried but to no avail.
Time passed and every spring the family hoped that blossom would appear and when it didn’t grumbled and considered getting rid of the tree - though for some reason they never did.
One day in the spring said the person telling me this tale they were pottering in the front garden when a stranger who was passing by stopped and started a conversation.
“No blossom on the tree then?” “No”, replied the homeowner “never”. The stranger lent forward slightly, offered some previously unheard advice and went on their way.
In the winter the family gathered around the tree whilst a six inch nail was driven almost completely into the tree and then went inside muttering they had just killed the tree.
In the spring the tree rushed to life, had more foliage than usual and carried a substantial amount of blossom. It has flourished ever since.
The tree was settled into an easy annual routine but was not all it could be. It had to fight to combat the threat of the nail and that new energy caused it to prosper. Jesus talked of pruning vines (which cannot be treated by nails!) so that they would carry “even more fruit” (John 15:2). What fruit could our lives yield? What searching treatment would make that possible?
Rev Bob Sneddon