In the garden I am conscious of many things. I am aware of birdsong, the warmth and brightness of the sun, the sparkle of dew or frost, the vibrancy of colour in the foliage and flowers, and here at the moment of writing, it is the wonderful colours of green and autumn ambers, reds and yellows that we are celebrating. Armidale has had quite an autumn show! However, while I am in the garden, I am also aware of unwanted weeds and pests, I am aware of jobs still to be done, or to be done again, and again. Those beautiful autumn leaves just keep on falling. And, I am aware of the fragility of life as a flower fades or as a plant turns up its toes despite my efforts. In essence, in the garden, I am aware of the realities of life. There is the beautiful and the bad, the wanted and the wearisome, there is life and death. The writer of the biblical book Ecclesiastes was aware of the same things. I’m not sure if he had a garden, but he was certainly a keen observer! He wrote that there is a season for everything, that our experiences are mixed, that frustrations are real, and that death always stands in the shadows, patient to undo all that we would like to hold on to. We only avoid these realities by busyness, ignorance or arrogance. He wrote towards the end of his book “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness for there will be many.” This year at St Peter’s, during the garden weekend, we will commemorate the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba. As it was for the writer of Ecclesiastes, so it must have been for those young men and indeed so it must be for us. Life is sometimes like a spring garden, light and full of life, and at other times it is the winter, dark, frightening and hard. How is one to deal with the realities of life so powerfully displayed in our gardens? The writer of Ecclesiastes warned his readers in the light of reality, “Remember your Creator” and to “Fear God and keep his commandments” Good advice in the light of fragility and fickleness, for there is more to life than what we see and hear now. There is a Creator who brings life, and takes it, who rules over the seasons, and is concerned about the way that we live. God is so concerned in fact that he would send Jesus to deal with our decay and disobedience via the cross and open for us the way to a new life and a new hope as the stone rolled away from His garden tomb. Gardens can reveal to us a great deal! Imagine what we could become aware of if we saw and understood all that happened in that garden on that day! My hope is that you will enjoy your time with us here, and that you will take a moment to reflect on the bigger lessons even as you enjoy the smaller of your visit.
Very Reverend Chris Brennan