New Life Word on the Week 10th February 2024.
One of the joys that light up our spinney is the bursting forth of the snowdrop. They have to penetrate a mat of ground ivy to reach the light of day. These plants which the poet Thomas Tickell, who lived in Glasnevin, Dublin, (on land which was to become the Botanic Gardens), called ‘vegetable snow’. This name appears in his poem ‘Kensington Gardens’. Snowdrops brighten up our lives in the dull days of early Spring.
They multiply in the damp woodland conditions and have to be divided and distributed, spreading the joy around. They are accompanied by a few yellow Aconites which add variety of colour amongst the white snowdrops.
Along the verges of the farm road Cow Parsley begins to appear. It has a vigorous growth for which our hens are thankful! It gets cropped daily. A bucketful of its tender shoots is served up daily to the hens as part of their breakfast.
Coming to the fore, sometimes in amongst the cow parsley are the daffodils. These ‘Lent Lilies’ or in the Irish translation, “the plant with the bowed head” add a splash of yellow to the landscape. They have been planted in clumps which enables them to powerfully express themselves – as they bloom and fade in turn managing to remain attractive to the end.
And the end does come. It requires the death of the plant to permit nature to work its miracle in the bulb till its time comes round the following year. Likewise, the seed must fall into the ground and die before it produces much fruit (John 12 verse 24).
Walter Chalmers Smith the preacher from Aberdeen, who also wrote hymns, makes the connection with nature and compares it with the unchanging Jesus. ‘We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish-but naught changes Thee’.
The Apostle Paul, quoting from Isaiah, speaks enthusiastically of the afterlife: –
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 2 verse 9).
The Apostle then tries to describe the Christian life when it comes to full flower in Heaven. Within the limits of our vocabulary he sums it up “Just a we have borne the likeness of the earthly man so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15 verse 49).
So the amazing conclusion is that, in heaven, we will be like Jesus! If you understand the full implications of this, you will be able to look at death with calmness and confidence in a glorious future!