|From the Rectory |
Whilst away on my post Easter break recently, I visited the Eden project near St. Austell and the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey, both in Cornwall. The Eden project contains five greenhouses, called Biomes, the largest of which could contain the Tower of London with room to spare. This, the largest biome houses tropical and exotic plants and trees.
Held secure from the outside elements, the plants thrive with nothing to threaten or prevent their growth. The gardens at Heligan were established during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and were the Eden project of their day for their owners, although they were kept for private use and pleasure. Heligan went into decline after the Second World War and the gardens were lost for almost fifty years. I have visited Eden and Heligan several times and the change over the years has been spectacular.
There are parallels here, I believe, with the Christian life. When we enter the Christian faith through Holy Baptism our journey begins, the seed is sown and the way for the full potential of discipleship to grow and flourish is made clear. For some it stops almost immediately and never moves forward. For others the Christian life can become one of being protected like the plants at the Eden project, the world held at bay, people who follow that path become exotic hybrids. Nothing much touches them and they are kept from engaging with the real world outside, where storm and tempest would make them wither and perish. They may flourish in their own way but the Christian who lives in isolation from the world does little or nothing to further God's purposes on earth.
There are some who have lived and flourished, like Heligan, been fertile places for the values of the Kingdom but now the weeds of doubt and apathy have been allowed to take over and they are lost and cut off from the world as far as active discipleship is concerned.
The Eden project shows us how wonderful things can be and the rediscovery of Heligan shows us that there is always the possibility of returning to life in its full abundance. Both have their place, but both need to be constantly tended and looked after. Just like the Christian, just like you and me in fact. We have been given the potential to dazzle and astonish but unless we remain faithful and true to our God and Father in heaven the garden of delights that we could inhabit and others enjoy will become an arid and barren wilderness.
Christ Church, Freemantle has won many awards for its gardens around the Church. Let's all work together and see if what happens inside the Church might enable us to go out into the world to reveal through word and deed that God is working in and through us to make that world, God's world, a place of beauty and delight, a very Eden in fact.
Yours for Christ's sake.