When the sun shines, God is still there


Well, folks, another lovely day!  That must nearly be a whole week.

Not that I find it easy working when the sunshine shines.  I learnt as a student that you cannot revise sitting in the garden.  If you have to get your head down, stay indoors.

And there’s no point doing much visiting – everyone is out enjoying themselves before it starts raining.  I’m tempted to think that my job is much easier when its cold and wet.

It was a US senator who observed:  “Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny day.”  He knew what he was talking about – Wilton E Hall represented South Carolina.

Weather, or more precisely climate, seems to have such an effect on us.  I am still following the unfolding of the Euro crisis – the Guardian has an excellent live blog, not that I will be following it today.  The sunnier the clime, the deeper the crisis.  Just compare Greece with Finland.

Southern Europe may be the place to go on holiday but northern Europe has to be the place to live.

So where does the Holy Land fit in with all this?   At first sight the Bible does not make much of the weather.  The fact is, of course, that God’s hesed is unaffected by the thermometer – that’s why it is called steadfast love.

But strangely the Bible opens with God walking in the garden in the cool (or breeze) of the day.  A lovely image of God making himself available for relationship at the end of a scorching hot day.  The problem was that Adam and Eve were hiding from him.  God wants to spend time with his image-bearing creatures; they clearly don’t.

Obviously there’s a problem and the rest of the Bible recounts how God goes about restoring this relationship, above all in the gift of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us.

One of Jesus’ most poignant encounters was in the heat of the day. Otherwise it wouldn’t have taken place.

Evidently the heat had taken it out of Jesus;  he was hot and tired. So he sent his disciples into Sychar to get supplies while he sat by Jacob’s well for a rest and presumably for some much-needed water. Not the time to do ministry, everyone is cooling out indoors.

Except one woman with a shady past who hid herself by coming to the well to draw water at midday.  No one goes to the well at noon. That’s the whole point.   Little did she realize – as Jesus makes clear to her – who she actually does encounters in the heat of the day.  If she is doing her best to avoid people, then God is doing his best to meet with her.

For the gospel writer John, this is a key moment.    It is as if this woman personifies everything that would separate us from God.  She’s a woman.  She’s a Samaritan.  She’s been around.

What is more Jesus makes himself vulnerable and to her surprise he – a Jewish male prophet – asks her for water.  She could have said “Get your own bucket.” But she doesn’t.  She’s intrigued by this Jew who engages her in sustained conversation.

There seems no lengths that God will go to make contact with us, to call us from our hiding places into the open.  And in the most unlikely places in the most unexpected ways and at the most surprising times.

Alan Godson, a retired vicar from Liverpool 6, phoned yesterday for a chat.  I did a placement years ago with Alan years ago at St Mary’s Edge Hill.  A natural evangelist, he had the gift of sharing the gospel in the most unlikely of places.

I went with Alan to pay his gas bill in Bold Street.  He commented to the cashier that she had a wonderful tan.  She replied that she had just been on holiday in Spain. Without missing a beat Alan asked her whether she enjoyed the sunshine of God’s love in her life!  I was hugely embarrassed but there at the Gas Board counter this woman met with God.

So enjoy the sunshine of God’s love today!