21 | garvoc | kirrae whurrung country #Lent 2023

Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)

Bushfires ripped through southwest Victoria on St Patrick’s Day, 2018. A falling power pole caused a grass fire at The Sisters; it quickly burned through 4,000 acres. Many of us were at a party and had to drive home through smoke, fire and falling embers; some of us evacuated our homes just in case; some of us found shelter on the floor of the hall at Sanctuary. Afterwards, whenever I drove through Garvoc, I saw the burned dead trees standing there on the side of the highway and remembered that night with a shudder.

Two years later, we reflected in church on the story of Moses and the burning bush, and how God caught Moses’ attention via shrubbery. The congregation was asked, has a plant or tree ever made you aware of God’s presence?

One response came from Joel. He told us that he had once been in a bushfire. The next day, all these seed pods had opened up and there was even a light green fog of new growth. For the first time, he understood how fire and even death could lead to life.

Now when I go through Garvoc, I remember Joel’s observation. I still see the burned dead trees, but now I also see the trees with blackened trunks covered in lime green growth, and the young saplings springing up, and all the fresh new groundcovers thriving in the ash-rich soil.

And I remember this: sometimes destruction forms the ground of renewal. Sometimes things need to die to make room for newness. In God’s eyes, death never has the last word; life does. And sometimes, God is in the compost. 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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