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Viewpoint from Rt Rev Dr Alan Winton 24/06/11

The Rt Rev Dr Alan Winton
Bishop of Thetford
The English love nothing better than discussing the weather, and Vicars are often asked to send up a prayer on this subject. I’ve Dove rightalways resisted such requests, not least because if one person wants it to be dry, another is desperate for rain. And that seems to be where we are as I write, with many in the tourism industry no doubt rejoicing at the warm dry weather, and many farmers and gardeners facing real difficulties. The news has just spoken of the inevitable water restrictions – here we go again
But as you look around in these last few months, it is remarkable how many plants and trees seem to have been thriving through this unseasonably dry spell. Roots are the reason. Last year, our first in Norfolk, we tried to grow some vegetables. I think we made the mistake of watering too frequently, and the plants didn’t produce deep roots and didn’t seem to thrive as well as we might have hoped. This year we are trying to be more sparing with the water, in the hope that strong, deep roots will develop and the plants have a better chance of flourishing and producing a good crop
This image of the importance of roots is one that the Bible uses on a number of dove leftoccasions. Jeremiah chapter 17 verses 7 and 8 read, “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green”
That picture of a rooted tree surviving a drought is a vivid one for our own lives and our own walk with God. Few pass through life without periods of drought and dryness, times when joy and happiness are hard to come by, when life seems marked by pain and hardship. It is then that we will need the strong roots, the deep roots that the Bible speaks of, to draw on the water that is nearby
For so many of us, the pattern of our lives is that when we are young and healthy, when life is going well, we feel little need of God. We only turn to God, cry out to God in prayer, when times become difficult, when illness or disaster strikes
The wisdom that this image is trying to convey, is of the need to remember God when times are good, so that when hardship comes, we have the roots into God’s love to help us endure and prosper again
How can we ensure that our roots into God’s love are strong and deep? When life is good we can remember God, and give thanks to him. We can practice generosity to others, and we can spend time in prayer. These are among the ways in which our roots can grow strong
There is wisdom to be found in the world of nature if we have eyes to see


Gary Naylor (Guest) 17/09/2011 00:02
Now I understand why you gave up on cricket so early in life. The game's loss is the Church's gain! I also suspect that those at Christchurch, Sidcup will be exremely proud that two (I'm including a certain Andrew Perriman here)of their graduates would go on to successfully spread the word of God albeit via somewhat different paths.

Take care