Monday, 28 May 2012

Sweet Fragrance Of Grace

We had such a lovely service at Church yesterday.  Although our Church is not all that far from where we live (in a busy town), it is a small, pretty, very ancient building that looks as if it had been picked up from a wee village hamlet in the countryside and set down again in the centre of town, like a toy in a game of make-believe.  Somehow it seems cruel to have such a pretty building set against a backdrop of ugly modern concrete structures such as malls, car parks and tower blocks.  But step through the gates and you are transported somewhere else entirely.  It is surrounded by a high flint wall, and within the Churchyard are several very old cherry blossom trees that form a canopy above you in the sky.  The grounds are planted with pretty bulbs and flowers for every season -  snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells, violets and wallflowers, michelmas daisies, gladioli and aconites, and the lawns are stippled all summer long with hundreds of daisies.  It is all so beautiful and tranquil, and within it is beautiful too!  Almost unchanged through the centuries.  Through the stained glass windows you can see the blossom trees outside and it is especially lovely to see the turning of the seasons represented in the changing appearance of those trees, framed by the coloured glass windows.  Yesterday they were heavy with frilly pink blossoms, that barely moved in the warm still air.  Oh I did enjoy being there in the cool gloom of the Church.  We had some lovely hymns yesterday too - the one that I shared yesterday (Come Down O Love Divine) was another of the hymns that Papa Bear and I had at our wedding service! 

When we got home my mind was buisy with the words from our second Scripture reading - which I also posted yesterday - Galatians 5: 16-26.  I kept especially in my heart the words of verses 22 - 23 -

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance ..."

It has been so warm here the last few days, that I felt it was particularly fitting that we should have had this reminder of how our Father God wishes us to conduct ourselves!  Hot weather can lead to frayed tempers, and sometimes we need to step back, take a deep breath, and remember that losing our tempers is not Godly behaviour - even when the temperature is rising, and everyone around us seems to be in a bad mood!  Remembering these precious verses has helped me to keep cool and calm these last couple of days!

As I lay in my lovely rose fragranced bath yesterday evening, with soft vanilla scented tealights flickering at my toes, I thought again of these words, and of how important it is that I keep hold of God's commands, even when (in fact, particularly when) I don't naturally feel like I want to!  It's easy to endeavour to conduct ourselves in a way that glorifies God when life is treating us kindly, and we have no worries or concerns to weigh us down.  But it's equally important that we remember to carry on glorifying Him when times get tough.  Only that way can we be a true example to others - a beacon for Him in a world of darkness.  The beautiful scents of my lovely bath creme and the tealights that my sweet husband has given me, also served to remind me of another very important passage of Scripture - one which I really love, and which I feel is one of the most important of all, as a guide to our conduct.  Here we see that we have a very high calling indeed, as God's children - we are to imitate Christ.  In so doing, we will become a sweet fragrance to the Lord - expressing the beautiful scent of grace to all those around us.  Ephesians 5: 1-33 ...

"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 
 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband". (Ephesians 5: 1-33).

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to commit this whole Chapter of Scripture to memory, to use as a blueprint for our every action?  Papa Bear and I plan to do just this, over the next few weeks.  And in so doing, I also hope to give this passage some deeper consideration which I intend to share here, on the blog.  I may not be perfect (I know I am far from!) but I can strive to be better - my best - for the sake of my Salvation.  And so can anyone!  All we have to do, to start with, is open our hearts to the words of our Saviour.  And then, work hard to ensure that in all that we do, we are as sweet and beautiful in our demeanour, as our Father God created us to be.