17 | the fruitful garden | peek whurrong country #Lent 2023

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life … (Matthew 6:26)

I first encountered the risen Christ when He lifted His head from the golden crucifix that had him nailed there, girded only in a white, unstained, loin cloth, and looked at me. On his face was a smile. I was ten years old. His smile told me I was welcome. I didn’t need more than that.

When I was thirteen, I had another encounter. This time it was his arms, open wide, and welcoming. I can still feel the warmth of that occasion. It was at that time I further dedicated my life to following him, whatever that may mean.

At the age of fifteen, I remember singing a chorus, some of the words are: ‘I know not when my lord will come, at night or noonday fair, if I will walk the vale with him or meet him in the air…. But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able, to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day…..’

As the years have gone by with lots of special times, sad times, frustrating times and times of trauma and fear… I am also reminded that God says: ‘Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns— and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to their life?’ (Matthew 6:26-27).

But I still worry!

So, this morning after pondering upon Alison’s story concerning the Apple Tree and how all creation praises God (here), I am again reminded of whose likeness we are all created in. God is three in one, male, female and all that’s in between.

We have many birds who frequent our front deck for their bits of food from our hands. The Blackbird couple (known to us as Mr. & Mrs) are very cheeky and allow us to stand quite close to them and chat, as they take the offering from us. 

Did you know birds have different sex chromosomes to humans and many other animals? The female has a single Z and a W (remains of a broken Z), and the male a double Z. The female gets a say in what her offspring, eggs, will be. Male, female and occasionally both.

In humans, females conserve more sex-linked traits than males, and pass them on to male and female children. The opposite is true in birds. Why am I telling you this, apart from my love of birds? Because Nature itself teaches us what is normal! God’s love and expression all around us is ordered, but not rigid. God, in their creativity, spontaneity and joy, created us ALL, in their image. Being a trans guy, after living in a different gender for 61 years, I am as much a part of God’s creation now as I ever was.

Many years ago, when the boys were young, they were playfighting with Beatrice when one knocked the rocking chair leg into our large tropical fish tank, and it broke. The water gushed out all over the carpets and curtains. There were fish everywhere! We rescued as many as we could, and among those rescued was one male swordtail. Eventually, we re-housed the rescued fish and got on with life (having had the carpets and curtains professionally cleaned)!

Several weeks later we noticed baby swordtail fish in our new aquarium… when we wondered how this could be, we noticed our one male swordtail had become a female and had produced young.

Nature is indeed amazing! Since that time (thirty years ago) my own journey of gender and sexuality discovery (over the last decade) has taken us places we didn’t expect to visit, let alone to stay.

There are many more tales in nature of how God’s creation is created in their image. There is the seahorse male who is the sole parent to young seahorse ‘babies’. In fact, the pregnant dad carries the young and then gives birth to them.

In our garden we have a mix of Australian natives plants and European. We have fruit trees that depend upon bees, insects the wind & so on for fertilization and some fruit trees who don’t need cross fertilisation; they can produce fruit without this.

So, back to the knowledge that all of creation praises God, that God sees their world and marvels in this creation. I am reminded that even when it looks like mighty forces of destruction (COVID; Ukraine War, Famine, Flood, Fire and storm) are in control and are governing life outcomes, even in our darkest hour, the power for life is not in their hands, but in our Creator’s.

I find it very difficult to not worry, to not be fearful and a big part of me wants to hide away. But, instead, responsibly though, I am saying and affirming… I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future…. This is enough for today.

The Future
Life on earth is but a moment.
Caught within the crease of time,
The seasons come and go again,
You have your life & I have mine.
The seed that’s planted within the ground,
Cannot choose what to become.
A potato, an apple or a rose for some.
However, for it to be the very best,
It needs rich soil, not poor.
The sun and the rains may come to open that seed’s door.
I may be born to nourish others,
I may delight the eyes,
Some may never see my brothers,
Others are hiding in open disguise.
For each to blossom and sing with the birds,
For each to grow their potential,
Plant us in goodness and all that is fine,
Please keep the intruders away.
Give us a chance to develop in time,
To become who we are, in Life’s future, one day. Ω

What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together daily stories and images from people in the congregation which are focused on God in this place. Why this theme? Read this! #Lent2023. Our Spiritual Geography © Sanctuary, 2023. Sanctuary is based on Peek Whurrong country. Full acknowledgement of country here

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