whether the weather

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Following on from yesterday’s bloggage, today is the day when the shed is going to be put up. The nice men from the shed company have just arrived and the heavens have opened! We’re on the lookout for groups of animals moving around in twos.

It has been said that there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes. That may be true normally but when work needs doing outside the weather can be wrong. Crops require the right weather to grow and then we need the right weather to harvest them. When England play at cricket we need the right weather (sadly sometimes it’s a need for rain to avoid a defeat). Sun dials don’t work well in the rain. And when blokes turn up to put up a shed they need it to be less than torrential: otherwise they may be tempted to build it upside down and turn it into a boat!

But is it the wrong weather? Or is it that our lives are insufficiently flexible to enable us to change in response to the weather? I recognise that events like harvesting crops are relatively fixed but so, on the whole, are the seasons to enable farmers to plant, grow and harvest so there is limited flexibility even there.

You may be wondering where this line of reasoning is going. I wasn’t sure myself when I started. But the thought struck me (given the British obsession with the weather – it gives us something to talk about when we’re stuck for subjects) that perhaps we need to relax our modern lifestyles and obsessions with time and timeliness. Perhaps we need to be more flexible (I can already hear administrators and event organisers screaming) about things. The Bible has the concept of Kairos – God’s timing. And it is clear through the Bible, through history and in my own life that God’s timing is not always what we hope or expect but it’s always good. And wise people will adjust their timing and expectation to fit in with God’s.

The question is whether we will.

a momentary interlude

To keep the suspense for my final atonement instalment I am making you wait until next week with a brief momentary interlude: here’s the ‘thought for the week’ that I shared with EBA Ministers this week…

Rain Clouds ComingDon’t we just love the weather in this country? I’m not talking about any particular type or weather:  just weather in general. It’s often the topic of our conversations (especially when we can’t think of anything else to say). And it always seems to provide us with something to complain about. Yesterday I was on a train that was delayed because it was so hot that the rails warped – cue complaints from other passengers about the wrong type of sun (and then reminiscences about the wrong type of snow)! The weather is too wet, too dry, too cold, too hot, too windy, too foggy… It is said that there is never the wrong type of weather when we go out, just the wrong type of clothes. I am not sure that always applies (what’s the right sort of clothing to wear in a tornado?) but I take the general point.

If your church is running outdoor events this summer I am sure that people (perhaps including you) will be praying for good weather. That’s understandable, isn’t it? We believe in a God who can make it rain continuously for 40 days and 40 nights (otherwise known as the traditional English summer); who can calm storms; who oversees the seasons to enable crops to grow and be harvested; and much more besides. So why can’t we ask him to give us the right weather for our church fete / barbecue / outreach / fun day / picnic / [insert alternative event here]? Surely he’s interested in those events going well, isn’t he? And we often thank him at the end of a successful event where we had the appropriate weather.

But what do we do when we get the wrong weather? Did God decide that he didn’t like our church fete / barbecue / outreach / fun day / picnic / [insert alternative event here]? Did we not pray fervently enough? Did God want us to learn something when he sent the hurricane through the garden party? I think the problem comes when we forget that the global weather system is a closed system. The weather here is like it because of the interaction between weather systems, cold fronts, warm fronts, cloud formation, rain cycles and so on. Precipitation happens. And if God started intervening for all of the church events every time we prayed can you imagine the chaos it would cause elsewhere around the world? There are enough problems caused by weather (in a creation that was already groaning and which human interventions through pollution have made worse) without our church fete causing more of them!

When we pray for good weather for our event we may pray with the best of motives but we are praying with blinkers on. It could even be said that we are praying selfishly. When he taught his followers to pray Jesus didn’t mention the weather. But he did urge us to pray that God’s Kingdom would come, seen in the way that his will is done on earth in the same way as it is in heaven. That is a prayer about our attitude and involvement. It is a prayer of submission: to our Abba in heaven and his priority, his mission, his purposes, his will. Only when we have genuinely been able to pray that sort of prayer should we come asking about our needs and relationships – physical and spiritual. (Perhaps instead of praying for the right weather we should be praying for a Godly response to the weather we get.)

Lynn Green (General Secretary of BUGB) has called us to a new season of prayer (you can read more about it at http://www.baptist.org.uk/Groups/260844/Beacons_of_Prayer.aspx) and that surely involves us first lifting our eyes from the pressing things that dominate our thoughts and time and energy and starting with ‘Thy Kingdom come…’

Be blessed, be a blessing

storming the weather

Let’s face it, we Brits are obsessed with the weather. It’s one of the default subjects of conversation, it often makes headline news and we are avid amateur meteorologists with our own ways of predicting what the weather will be.

One of the ancient legends is about St Swithin’s Day:

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

The theory is that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (15th July) it will rain for the next 40 days. Analysis of weather patterns has proved this to be incorrect. This week we have been told that we have had the coldest Spring in 50 years, and the fifth coldest since 1910. Global Warming (ironically) is among the causes that are being blamed for this unusual weather. I don’t pretend to understand it all, but there is no doubt in my mind that human activity has adversely affected our climate and that we will have to get used to different weather patterns as a result. It may be that in years to come the St Swithin’s Day forecasting method becomes more accurate.

If you want one of these weather stones, click on the image to go to a website that will sell you a personalised one.

One of the things that annoys me about our weather forecasts on TV is the amount of time devoted to telling us what the weather has been and what it is right now. We know what it has been. And all we have to do is look out of the window to know what it is doing right now. We want to know what it will be like. You might as well use one of these high-tech weather forecasting stones (which are available to buy – click on the picture to go to the website).

It has been said that it is not that the weather is wrong, it is that we wear the wrong clothes for the weather. That may be so, but it does help if the weather forecast can be consistent enough for us to be able to put the right clothes on. How often do we find ourselves ill-equipped for the weather – thick jumpers on days that turn out to be hot, t-shirts and shorts when it starts pouring down with rain.

Jesus seems to have had a lot to say about the future (paraphrased by me): don’t worry about tomorrow, worrying won’t change anything; prepare as well as you can for what you expect to happen; you may not know what the future holds, but you can know the one who holds the future.

Trusting God for the future is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not a case of sitting back and waiting for whatever happens, because we have a life to be lived to the full. And it’s not a case of being a control freak and then blaming God when our plans fail. There’s a delicate balance that we need to find, and I think it comes from a close walk with God. He’s not someone to be consulted occasionally: he wants to be involved in our lives – a partnership, a relationship. The more we involve him in our lives, the easier it is to trust him and to sense what he wants us to do. The more I have trusted him in the past (and he has come through for me) the easier it is to trust him now and in the future.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

To tell the weather, Go to your back door and look for the dog.

If the dog is at the door and he is wet, it’s probably raining. But if the dog is standing there really soaking wet, it is probably raining really hard.

If the dog’s fur looks like it’s been rubbed the wrong way, it’s probably windy.

If the dog has snow on his back, it’s probably snowing.

Of course, to be able to tell the weather like this, you have to leave the dog outside all the time, especially if you expect bad weather.