What have the following got in common? Cardiff, Malvern, Chelsea, Chatsworth, Harlow Carr, Hampton Court, Tatton Park, Hyde Hall, Rosemoor, Wisley? This is not a shipping forecast, although it does sound a little like the radio broadcast, a quirky but much-loved national institution with its strangely comforting rhythm. Each of these is a venue for the Royal Horticultural Society flower shows that run through the summer months around the country.
These shows are a gardener’s delight. One piece of advertising invites us: “Be part of the future at a show that breaks the boundaries and blends tradition with unexpected, innovative design” [RHS website]. Hours of pleasure come from seeing healthy blooms that aren’t frost damaged, undeveloped or eaten by bugs. The colour schemes provide ideas as to which particular combinations go well together. Designs of the layout give ideas as to how our own patch can be enhanced to display plants at their best. All this against the backdrop of grand buildings from a previous era in luxurious grounds.
The splendor of the blooms speaks not only of the hard graft by the gardener but also of the Creator’s handiwork to make the world beautiful. It’s true even if we only have a tablecloth sized square. How wonderful flowers are to see.
Yet we know that even with the very best of blooms it is just for a season. Once the summer months are over the blooms soon disappear from view.
This is the picture used in the Bible to point out two realities: “All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (Isaiah 40v6-8 quoted in 1 peter 1v24-25). As human beings we are temporary and our days are fleeting. We may put on a good show, a beautiful display, but the time is brief. The contrast and cure to this is turning to God who alone has made the offer of giving us life, which is open to all who turn to him. His word of promise will not be modified, compromised or even withdrawn. His word endures forever.
The summer often gives time to reconsider the direction of our lives and the balance of daily life. Will you reconsider* what you have heard about the person and work of Jesus Christ in whom all the promises of God find their yes in him?