I am blessed, truly blessed.
I do a job that I really love (among a people that are a joy to be with) in an area that is wonderful. I know Clacton on Sea isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, there has been a lot of negative press over recent years but, I like Clacton.
What could be nicer than a stroll by the sea or, sitting on the front with a mug of tea in hand watching the world go by? When “in landers” are stifling under that horrible sticky heat we have fresh sea air. In the winter time, what is more spectacular than watching the constantly changing and spectacular sea?
There is, however, a blot on the landscape. There is one thing that ruins this seaside idyll – the seagull.
This uncivilized creature has a habit of loudly squawking in the early hours of the morning. It is not a solitary squawk, no, they squawk in packs. When one starts, they all join in and the noise is enough to wake the dead! Certainly enough to wake me.
There is one habit that this feathered fiend has, that is horrendous and I saw its horror this morning.
Tuesday is bin day in my part of Clacton. The bin men come very early and so I, and my neighbours, put our bags out the night before. By Tuesday morning our streets are covered in litter. The eagle eyed (or should that be seagull eyed?) pests have swooped down and shredded the bags helping themselves to the best (or worst) of the rubbish.
I know our town council regularly explore options of managing the situation but, in the main, there is little anybody can do. If we want to live in this wonderful place, we learn to live with the blot on the landscape.
I suppose that’s how many of us view life too.
We have our weaknesses our failures, our foibles and we tell people “that’s just me, you can either take it or leave it”. People have to learn to live with our “blot on the landscape”.
Or, maybe, you are in the situation where you are living with somebody else’s “blot on the landscape” and you live with the consequences. Perhaps you see the pain they are in or cause and wonder if the situation can ever be changed.
One thing that I have discovered over the years is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of transformation and I believe that message is as powerful today as it has ever been. I suppose, the only caveat I would put with that, is that the transformation Christ brings is so deep that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an old image, I know, but none the less true the Christian life is a journey in transformation. Elyse Fitzpatrick says;
So, how can this transformation take place? How can my “blot on the landscape” be changed. Here is what the Apostle Paul prays for the Church at Ephesus;
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3 vs. 16 – 19)
There is a lot in this prayer (I preached from it last Sunday). But, as I reflected back, this morning for me, the key is found in the words “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts”. The sense here is not a “one off visit” but, a continual presence a staying within. In our lives we need Christ to be within our hearts continually. Each and every day asking Him to come and dwell within us and, as He does, we will experience the transformation that only He can bring.