Notes from The Orchard February 2017

It is a pity that a certain new president has a poor memory: for someone of 70 he is apparently unaware of the climatic changes since he was young.  Among so many other things that have changed I know my mother would be amazed if she made a surprise resurrectional visit and saw people sitting drinking coffee and wine at tables outside on the pavements in an English winter, sometimes even without coats, gloves, and scarves but well, maybe wearing bobble hats . . .  How can the American president fail to have noticed these sorts of changes?


There was an interesting documentary over recent weeks based around USA's Yellowstone Park, where animals, plants and trees are disappearing and dying out and weather patterns have changed dramatically affecting rivers, rocks and soil and even harvests. Its a bigger pity that the president in question has so much power at his command, especially when he seems to have forgotten, among other things, his school history lessons and what happens when nuclear arms graduate to big boys toys.


The only thing left is for us to do is to call in our own truly Big and all powerful Gun and ask God to help save us (yet again!), together with the beautiful world he created for us.


Please, dear People, dont forget!  Remember too the old proverb that God helps those who help themselves  yes, I know that sounds corny but Jesus always asked for help from those he helped even if it was just a matter of asking and believing you would get a positive answer.  What do I hear you say?  God doesnt answer my prayers!


I suppose it depends what you are asking for, and how much you trust Him.


I have found over the years that prayers for other people are very often answered. Sometimes I know you can feel you are banging your head against a brick wall in frustration at Gods silence but then we dont know the whole pattern of our lives, God does.  At that point you can only trust him.


Many of those particular prayers deal with serious illness and death but we are not aware of possible ramifications and there is nothing to do but put everything in Gods hands.  I do know that if my husbands first wife had not tragically died at the age of 26 leaving two young children behind, the next three of our children would not have been born, nor would their children have seen the light of day.  My husband died fifteen years ago and his legacy to me was five wonderful children, the eldest of whom is now a grandmother, the second a grandfather twice over, and our lovely family which includes Davids first wife, Wendy, is expecting twins for the first time in its history in May.  Thank you, God!



Sarah Bell

Rainy school run from Mike image002 (1) APPLEFOOTER3

More Notes from the Orchard - 39 (Part 2)


February 2017


Lent is sitting in the wings of February, ready to remind us that another season is about to make its entrance.  The days which from our childhood always seem to herald almost as gloomy a time of year as November when we recall our friends and relatives who have travelled the same road as we are doing now.  The churches are bereft of flowers and purple is the liturgical colour forever associated with sadness.


Oh, dear, oh dear! God made us to be happy and good, to enjoy his wonderful gifts, and Jesus when he came to renew God's message, wanted to give us love in abundance so that we could live life to the full. . . and look at us!  What a miserable bunch we are!


Lent isn't a time to be unhappy:  it is a time to take stock of our lives - get rid of the awful pages and start again.  The awful pages?  Well, when I was a little girl every time I started a new exercise book I was determined to have a beautiful book.  I failed miserably but on the way to trying I discovered something unfortunate.  If I ripped out the latest disaster, there was a perfectly good page which had to be extricated from the other side of the half-way mark in case it fell out at an unsuitable moment.  What I didn't notice for some time was that this practice made the exercise book get thinner and thinner.  Eventually of course people noticed, everything came to light and was sorted.  My teacher explained that she didn't mind the mistakes - when I made mistakes it was all part of learning because then I knew that it didn't matter.  It just made it clearer what I needed to avoid next time.


In our own lives we know when we have done something we shouldn't have, mostly because we realise it makes someone unhappy - usually someone we care for and sometimes even ourselves.  And we try not to do it again.  Our parents understand this (if we are lucky!) and God has said this himself (Isaiah 43-25)


Lent in these secular days has almost lost its meaning.  It used to be common to 'give up' things for Lent, primarily chocolate and sweets and, depending on one's age, wine, spirits and cigarettes.  For these times it is probably better to take up something which most of us never do which was done in 'olden days' and that is spiritual reading.  Reading something written by God's friends can lift the spirits but probably the best is to revert to the Gospels, the Good News brought to us by the Evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  How many of us have even read them?  All the way through in quaint, old-fashioned English?  Try getting hold of a modern translation where the truth of them shows through more clearly.  You can order something on the internet which comes in a discreet brown package and maybe indistinguishable from Fifty Shades of Grey!  Pick the life story of a saint or a person who is viewed as a light to the world, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oscar Romero, Therese of Lisieux.  There are so many and you may have your own favourite for a Christian you would care to emulate.  There are websites to lift your hearts and mind to God who loves you and who will guide you to happiness in this life as well as the next.


Pray for the gift of optimism, the virtue of kindness and the gifts of faith, hope and love.


All this would be better than wasting time moaning about politics or giving up delicious fattening items of food to improve your figure (Oh, why do they always have to taste so delicious?). . . but you could pray in your spare moments during Lent - which starts on 1st March - that those involved in politics and physical improvement will be guided by God through his gifts of faith, hope and love to a world where we can find it easier to follow the two commandments Jesus gave us upon which hang all the others (Mt.22:27-40).  The Gospels ask us to love God because he loved us first, and to show our love for our neighbour by our deeds.



Sarah Bell