Ministers Letter – October 2007

Rev. Ray Coates
Dear Friends,

Earlier in the year we had a number of catastrophes. None of them was life threatening and I wouldn’t put them in the category where I might say, “God moves in a mysterious way”. At the same time, however, with the one in mind in particular, I would have to say the consequences have been surprising.

When we arrived in Tadcaster we found that at the bottom of our back garden there was a row of high trees, a number of them conifers. They were on the boundary between our house and that of a neighbour, a boundary more clearly marked by a mesh fence. It was difficult for anything to grow because of tree roots so we covered the strip of land at our side of the fence, first with material to prevent weeds growing then with bark chippings on top. At various intervals we put tubs of bulbs or bedding plants, according to the season, and we felt we’d solved an awkward problem pretty well – until the strong winds of January, that is!

One day we returned home to find that our sheltered garden was no longer so. The garden behind ours is at a lower level and two of the trees had gone and were now in the neighbour’s garden, stretched out on his lawn. A third tree was swaying dangerously and after consulting with the neighbour had to be felled. A stretch of the mesh fencing had also gone, for it had been attached to the trees. Suddenly, we were open to the world and not at all sure what could be done about it because of the drop.

We will have to do more, but in the months that have followed, it is not the case that nothing has happened. Close to the fence and trees there had been a flowering currant bush and a young sapling, while to the left a ground cover plant and some honeysuckle had flowered each year. They were all fairly weedy looking examples of their species, but in the last few months they have come on apace. They have flourished and shot up and look far healthier and stronger.

I found myself reflecting that sometimes in churches and other organisations there may be some that have been there for long periods. Often they may have served God and people very well. Sometimes, however, they may be preventing other things from flourishing. The same can be true for us as individuals – our lives can sometimes become so cluttered and full that growth in some areas can be very stunted. So a question I would like to reflect for myself and for our church is the question as to whether there may be need for some pruning in order to allow other things to flourish. It’s a question for all of us and sometimes new growth can only happen when space is created.

With much love,

Your Minister and friend,