From The Garden Bench - Transformation
Words by David Hollows
Did you know that the Majestic Monarch butterfly can travel 3,000 miles on its migration to Central America only to end up at the same tree its parents or even grandparents landed on a generation or two earlier and all this with a brain the size of a pinhead?
Or, that the same butterfly as a caterpillar builds a chrysalis around itself then releases a chemical which turns its insides to mush from which emerges the brain, internal parts, head, legs and wings which then form the butterfly?
Do you know the story of the 4 navy chaplains who become heroes?
In February 1943 the transport ship, Dorchester, was torpedoed off the coast of Greenland. As the ship was sinking and the overloaded lifeboats were lowered into the sea, the 4 chaplains took off their lifejackets and gave them to other frightened young sailors. The chaplains had determined to go down with the ship so that others might live. One survivor commented that ‘it was the finest thing I have ever seen or hope to see this side of heaven.’
We are surrounded by transformation and none more visible than in creation as we enjoy the colours and spectacular emergence of nature from the depths of winter and through the seasons of the year.
Various groups are encouraging us to transform the world.
Did you know that currently the group, Friends of the Earth, are offering a Bee Saver Kit to help support the struggling bee population? For your donation, you will receive wildflower seeds to provide food and habitat for the bees as well as a guide to help you build a bee hotel. You can transform the lives of bees. Practical Action in its latest magazine, Small World, highlights the importance of electricity generated by solar power in refugee camps:
‘The authorities now see electricity as a priority for the camps. It’s considered as important as toilets, shelter and food. Not just any electricity either – we’ve shown that sustainable, solar-powered systems are a smart choice for the camps. They mean that people can transform their lives without depleting natural resources or releasing harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.’
Photo by Suzanna D. Williams via Unsplash
Another article in the same magazine gives a report about the transformation Liquid Petroleum Gas stoves has meant to the people of Sudan who have changed from cooking the traditional way with wood or coal fires which caused serious health issues. The stoves reduce carbon emissions, create healthier homes, reduce deforestation and free women from the daily task of collecting wood so that they can have meaningful jobs. A win-win situation where transformation works.
ON TV there are programmes which focus on the transformation of homes, gardens and furniture. Perhaps you, yourself, have dabbled in transforming a garden or renovating a house. Simply by changing the curtains or the colour decor of a room can bring a massive transformation to your life.
One of the biggest drivers of transformation for us all at the moment is the Climate Change agenda that, by 2050 if not sooner, we should have replaced oil and coal based energies with electric produce by solar, wind or tidal power. Also, that we may no longer eat beef or cheese which will be replaced by the protein provided by insects. Lots of transformation to contemplate.
The Bible contains many stories which depict how God transforms the lives of individuals or nations. Probably the most famous story of transformation is that of Saul who meets with Jesus on the way to Damascus who is transformed from the persecutor to Paul the missionary. (Acts chapter 9) Peter is transformed from the betrayer of Jesus to a confident evangelist who confronts the priests who expect Peter to renounce sharing the Good News with others. (Acts chapter 4) Thomas is also transformed when he meets with Jesus (John chapter 20) as is the Samaritan woman at the well (John chapter 4) the thief on the cross (Luke chapter 23) and the woman who touches the hem of the cloak of Jesus and is healed (Matthew chapter 9)
Jesus changed many lives in so many different ways by His healings, His teachings and the personal and individual encounters with so many. The disciples followed in the example set by Jesus, for example, when Peter and John healed the beggar at the Beautiful Gate in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 3) It was in Jerusalem that God transformed the whole outlook of the disciples and friends locked in that upper room as the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts chapter 2)and it was the same Holy Spirit that transformed John Wesley whose ‘heart was strangely warmed.’
God is still in the business of transforming lives. Here in the valley the testimonies of Christian refugees from Iran bear witness to the transforming power of God. Reports from Christian organisations such as Release International, Open Doors and, nearer to home, The Message in Manchester, all regularly share stories of how God transforms lives. The Bible is not only a record of lives and situations, events and history which have been transformed but directs us to the final act of transformation when God will come with His kingdom and there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation chapter 21).
As people of faith, we too can be agents for transformation. We can pray for those people in the very difficult situations of our world, we can donate to organisations which support those people in need, we can sponsor a child, we can have solar panels on our roof or drive an electric car. There are so many options. As believers we are called to be ambassadors as we share with others the transformation in our lives because of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and we graciously and generously share the love, grace and mercy of God.
Are you ready to transform or be transformed?
Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny via Unsplash
You may find the following prayer helpful:
Spirit of the living God, speak again to us and all your people, transforming confrontation into love, pessimism into joy, tension into peace, impetuosity into patience, sinfulness into goodness, apathy into kindness, fickleness into faithfulness, anger into gentleness and lack of discipline into self-control. Then may we enjoy to the full the gifts you provide for us and all your creatures for the enrichment of your world.
Signing off: your local Lay worker – David Hollows
Photo by Darren Richardson via Unsplash