Mar 1, 2024

Rector’s Letter March 2024

written by Richard Bland

Dear friends,

In the church service on the first Sunday in Lent I introduced, as part of my sermon, a Stanley Spencer painting called `The Scorpion’, which is one in a series called Christ in the Wilderness. The painting you see above is another in the same sequence … this one entitled ‘Consider the Lilies’.

Once again, what strikes most people initially is the unusual size of Jesus … and I can understand that. In this painting Jesus resembles the mountains in the background, solid and huge … yet humble as he bows down low. Perhaps through this painting we can be reminded of God being called the ‘Rock’ in the Old Testament … solid and dependable … upon whom many scriptural writers placed all their trust.

If we consider the title of this painting we might also be surprised once again. Jesus is staring, not, as the title indicates, at some expensive well tended and greenhouse grown lilies, but at a bunch of ordinary insignificant daisies growing on the ground. He is fascinated by them. Captivated by them. And they in turn, curve their pink tipped petals towards him. It is a picture of mutual pleasure … as Jesus delights in their presence and they delight in his gaze.

What a lovely depiction that is for Lent: God gazing at you and me
with a gaze of love … of God bending down low to delight in us … of God in His hugeness noticing us and choosing to spend time with us. Perhaps this Lent we might try to cultivate gazing back … to curve our souls towards God and bathe in God’s love. It sounds so easy – but I have a suspicion that it isn’t. Life continues to gets in the way … human emotions entice us away … it is just easier to pass through our time here quickly and superficially.

But if anything this painting, in fact the whole series of Spencer pictures, encourages us to pause during our day and to look for God amongst the ordinary and the created … to stop in our wilderness time to stare and wonder … and to cherish and behold God’s gaze upon us.

May our Lenten time be blessed.

with love, Liz