A sunflower is not; an over grown marigold, or a mutated daffodil, It’s not a freaky big plant that’s grown out of control, It’s not a bi annual, it’s not a tree, it does not sting, it’s leaves are not black and it’s flower head comes in many colours but never blue. It grows regardless of wealth or what people say or think about it.
At this point you may have noticed that this is a list of what the sunflower is not.
Its easy to focus on what we are not. To look at what we don’t have, but when we strip away the not haves, in our naked nothingness we start to see who we really are and something of who God is.
Let’s go back to the sunflower, I can’t leave you with a list of what a sunflower is not without telling you something of what a sunflower is.
Latin name: Helianthus annuus.
Helianthus is derived from Greek helio- (sun) and antho- (flower).
annuus means ‘annual ( completes its growing cycle in one season ).
Did you know sunflowers follow the sun. Its not something you might notice when you have a lone flower in your garden. If you are lucky enough to see a field of sunflowers it’s obvious they know which way to look.
Something I found out recently, is that Sunflowers continue tracking the suns direction long after the sun has set. Through 360 degree’s they ensure that they are always oriented in the direction of the sun.
Their unity is totally dependant on one thing. Their relationship to the sun.
Facing the sun these flowers grow tall, towering above the other flowers. Theirs something truly wonderful, awesome, and beautiful about the sunflower. It seems so sure of who it is, confident in it’s just being.
Who am I?
For me this week the question has not been who am I but – who do others think I am ( waiting for the pioneer panels outcome ) .
In this time of waiting I need to be more like the sunflower, turning to God, almost pointing God out to myself, reminding myself that God knows who am.
That it’s in my very core of my being to turn to God, not just in these days of waiting but in all that I am.
It’s a being-ness in which Jesus walks with me into freshly ploughed fields and whispers sow.
It’s a being-ness that calls me to put on Wellington boots in readiness to walk in a direction that I have never walked before.
My being-ness needs to follow God as much as the sunflowers need to follow the sun. It’s a natural God created being that guides me to a place of doing. In my being and doing I to turn to God, to seek and find the core of my very self.
When I turn to God in this time of waiting, I feel the warmth of love that I follow, I see something of my I – am -ness in myself and others as I turn to face the warmth of one who loves us all.
John 13:7 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Train tickets purchased, overnight accommodation booked. Reading material has been sourced and journal purchased. A large selection of coloured pens are displayed on the coffee table.
Supplies are plentiful, tea, biscuits and a glass of wine for the evening. Best of all I have time to read, make notes and prepare for the one day pioneer selection panel (Pioneers are people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community).
I’ve made colourful notes comprising of an individual mix of badly drawn pictures and mispelt words.
I’m doing what I feel is expected of me. To study, gaining knowledge before I attend the panel . What I am reading is far from dull, the text is rich bold and exciting. My chosen method to study is dull and unimaginative. The typed text that I read remain as words that move from text book to my journal.
So over nourished with Christmas I find myself curled up on the sofa reading and writing. It’s easy to stay in my pjs and fluffy festive socks, it’s comfortable and warm.
I crave this warmth that the inside brings. It’s the inside that’s blurring my vision, it’s being inside that’s consuming my energy an dulling the imagination.
It’s time to squeeze my feet into Wellington boots (which seemed unusually tight due to my reluctance to remove my fluffy festive socks) and spend some time in the garden .
Outside my colourful notes become fully formed pictures. The energy that had been locked way was released into the space that is my garden. On a cold winters day this space is full of warmth and love.
A horticulturalists winter garden is full of anticipation of what’s to come. Impatient excitement holds God’s garden in this time of preparation and waiting.
The garden is waiting for the days to lengthen and the sun to warm the sleeping bulbs. The surface is littered with decaying leaves and a few hardy plants some of these plants could be called weeds.
You see weeds are just plants that don’t fit in.
People are not weeds but can be treated as if they were; pulled up, displaced never being given the opportunity to get their roots down.
I am not called to the fruitful, or the colourful, but to those that live on the edges of our community’s. Those that feel unvalued and misunderstood. Those that hold onto life in the most unusual places. Living in extreme conditions unable to grow.
As a gardener we remove the weeds in favour of plants we want to grow. It’s us controlling what grows in our gardens. What happens if we listen to God and start to grow Gods garden?( you might like to call what we grow a church).
When I imagine God growing my garden it changes shape, colour and direction. It becomes a garden with no boundaries a living breathing community full of mystery that some might even describe as chaos. Beautiful chaos that is diverse, a chaos with a sense of humour, a chaos that loves unconditionally, allows us the freedom to explore who we are, love that allows us to question . The garden would be and expression of God’s love for us, expressed through things like forgiveness, kindness, mercy, and gentleness.
When we garden with God we create the right conditions to grow a community that shows someone they belong and matter, not just to God but belong to one another.
In these conditions we grow and Flower.
Looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”
Question 6 on the BAP ( Bishops adversary panel ) form asks you to tick one of two boxes . The trouble is I don’t fit simply into one box.
God created me to live life muddy. To find an immense amount of joy from creation. When outside my confidence sours, I think big, I think beyond the walls of a box, I lift myself to Jesus breathing in air that so full of a love that’s beyond our understanding .
My shape is God given, it’s just not box shaped. My shape is created for me. I can’t change it, I can’t be squeezed into a different shape. I can’t function unless I can be true to my shape and true to God. The wonderful thing is that we have our own shape. And yes some of us are box shaped, but not me.
It would be a very plan and predictable world if we all fitted neatly into tick boxes. If we could define our personalities by ticking box A or B
I simply cannot fit and function in a box I can’t conform to its organised neatness.
The trouble with questions that only allow A or B answer is they don’t allow for us to express ourselves it’s saying you can only be one.
I just don’t fit neatly into one, I’m always the odd one out doing my own thing. I’m not trying to be awkward or prove a point, I’m not wired. I am just being true to myself and true to my calling
This also applies to my future ministry it would need to be a different shape out of the confines of what some may consider normal or different . It’s a shape open to ideas, it’s a shape that fits in with the people.
My ministry would include all those that don’t fit into boxes, It would be for those whose boxes are crumpled, whose boxes are broken and those whose boxes have been flattened by society.
I am hearing a calling that’s rooted and grounded in God’s love. Taking that love to the unchurched in a context that they understand. It’s leaning their language and seeing the world that they live in through their eyes. It’s dancing forward while talking creative sideway steps that come from God.
John 1:14 The Message (MSG)
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
When I imagine a drive in movie, I think big American, cars rock n roll, poodle skirts and the movie Greece.
I don’t really think much past that image . Until I saw a shared post on Facebook . Cardboard box cars all lined up containing children watching a film. This allowed me to not only reimagine it but when shared it become a reality . On Saturday our community had its very own drive in movie night.
Its such a simple idea, children make cars out of cardboard banana boxes adding embellishments. With plenty of imagination the boxes were transformed. After making the cars and parking them up a tea was provided . The children soon settled into their cars and enjoyed the film.
It has made me think how we label and stereotype often not being prepared to see past what we already know.
The children sat in boxes clearly labeled bananas. To everyone in that room they sat in cars.
The boxes had been beautifully crafted by the children. Adding paper wheels, some even had cup holders. Cars were unroad worthy some even multi occupancy but they were obviously cars.
Sitting enjoying the film my mind started to wonder. It made me think how Jesus does not label us, and how much we label .
On the outside boxes are clearly labeled bananas . So we should expect to find bananas on the inside.
Why would we find anything else? Its obvious why we have to label boxes.
But why are we so keen to label people ?
No one wants their identity boiled down to one thing, even if the label is a strength, a talent, or a gift. Even positive labelling restricts us . Puts us in a box that’s hard to get out of.
The way we label people is something I have always felt strongly about even in my teenage years it frustrated me . Caring for a little person with additional needs and finding my faith has strengthened my feeling about the way we judge and label people without much thought or consideration to them.
We can make decisions so quickly. Putting people into categories because of their jobs, looks, religion or race. It’s easily to do, we have all done it. It’s only by getting to know people and genuinely wanting to be with them understand them do we remove those unwanted labels.
Labels can really hurt, keep you from being who you really are.
I need to live my life by what I feel inside. Not the labels that others give me, or even the labels I give myself.
The labels I have carried and given myself are no longer significant, they no longer limit me in the way they used to . I am learning to see and live beyond my labels.
Jesus set me free from my labels allowed me to peel them back.
I am so much more than a label. I am a child of God and that’s all I am and who I am.
We could have described our drive in movie afternoon afternoon as “A fresh expression of church lead by an evangelical team ” it could equally be “Community family drive in movie night” .
Its was all those things but it was just simply to me one thing God at work .
Its being involved in lives of the families in our community. It’s The conversations we have, love we have for them, the love of Christ that we want to share with them. Jesus loves us and that’s the message I want to share. “ you are loved “ . Loved without labels, loved on your good days and bad days . It’s good to loose the long words that not everyone understands and think just about what’s at the heart of what we do.
Psalm 139:14Good News Translation
I praise you because you are to be feared;
all you do is strange and wonderful.
I know it with all my heart.