The Gas Man Came To Call – Look, See, Pray

“It was on a Thursday morning that the Gas Man came to call.” So beginneth the lesson from the Good News according to Flanders and Swann. (If this rings no bell for you, do a Google search… and be prepared to chuckle).

Unexpected knocking at the door meant a day of unexpected work. “Morning, guv, we need to dig a big hole in your garden. There’s some nice plants in the way.”

It turned out to be TWO holes. My beautiful perennial wallflower was in immediate peril… and even worse, the second hole was spot on the location of my favourite purple/white Iris which is just breaking into bud. I look forward to those iris every year for their brief but glorious show. Several other plants ended up in new locations by teatime.

Having to lift and split the iris rhizomes is a mixed blessing. Several sections are in new locations, which means I will get more irises and spread the joy through the garden. The bad news- the rhizomes may not like being moved; and several buds have been damaged in the process. I may not have ANY irises this year.

On the plus side, the gas pipes will be renewed and safe. I hope. And the gas man said “Yours is the best garden in the street.” Pause for a moment of smug self-congratulation. He’s right, of course.

In the greater scheme of things, an uprooted iris isn’t a crisis.

Displaced victims in the Middle East, Ukraine, Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, Myanmar (and other places too) are in need of practical and political help. My flap over my garden is pretty minor. I wonder how we would respond to homelessness, to invasion, starvation, to casual brutality or callous indifference? How willing are we to embrace challenge and change?

Biblical history gives many examples: Abraham, the patriarchal beginning of the story of Israel, summoned from Chaldea to an unknown destination. Moses rescuing the people in Egypt and leading through the Exodus. David, called from a farming clan to kingship. Elisha, dragged from family security to follow the great prophet Elijah. Exile and deliverance for Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel- and more.

Then of course we come to Jesus, willingly becoming incarnate through birth by Mary; the one who could have called 10,000 angels but chose instead the Cross and a borrowed Tomb.

We’ve just celebrated Easter, the Day of Resurrection: and in the days after that the friends of Jesus meet the Risen Lord repeatedly and are commissioned to take the Good News of the King and Kingdom to the very ends of the Earth.

Several times in subsequent history the Church has been uprooted, re-created, and re-purposed to serve and reach each new generation in fresh & appropriate ways. The same message, but expressed in the language and culture of the changing times.

It’s funny that it took an interruption and inconvenience to stir me into thought and action. Displacing an iris may be responsible for making me taking the larger tragedies seriously, being motivated to be part of the salvation/rescue that God is always engaged with.

Even if the process started by the gasman involves all the farce and tragedy some amusingly scripted by Flanders and Swann. Mishap after disaster followed by another week of uprooted life. The way Jesus described His work (Luke 4 v18-19) is a model for us: and a guarantee of being unsettled!

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

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