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St Johns Southgate

08 Aug 2018

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Let it rain

Rain has popped up (or should that be down?) in the news a fair bit lately.

During the recent coverage of the Thai cave rescue we kept hearing that the urgency to mount a rescue was increasing because more rain was coming. Meanwhile in south-western Japan, 225 people tragically perished in disastrous floods following successive heavy downpours. On top of that, only days after the World Cup had wrapped in Russia, a storm almost washed away one of the brand new stadiums purpose-built for the tournament!

The destructive power of rain does capture our attention. But if you’re anything like me, the other times you find yourself thinking about rain are generally when you’re inconvenienced by it. “Damn, I didn’t bring an umbrella!” or “Ugh! The washing’s on the line!”

For us in Southbank, most of us enjoy the comforts of modern life. But being so far removed from the primary industries that we can’t tell wheat from lentils, it’s easy to forget that rain is a good thing – and necessary, even if it can be destructive or cause us to be late for work by a few minutes.

Before there were windscreen wipers and disposable ponchos, there was undeniably a greater connection to the waters that fell from the sky and more of an innate understanding of their importance. Even more than that, there was a sense of rain being a blessing – a blessing from the heavens.

The cosmology of the ancient Near East, for example, considered heaven, the dwelling place of God, to be up above the sky. But also, it understood that there was an expanse of water up there. Which is perfectly good logic for the ancient world.

When it rains it has to come from somewhere, right?! It followed then, that rain, coming from up above, was a blessing from heaven. We still have a poetic hangover from this time, in that we still sometimes say, “the heavens opened” after a heavy shower.

To a large degree, though, we’ve lost the spiritualisation of rain. That being said, recently at St Johns, we tried to recapture a little of it. Our Thanksgiving-Celebration service this year focused on rain.

The display in the church truly captured its majestic beauty. During worship, the children of the congregation shared what they thought was great about rain. Among the wisdom shared from the mouths of babes were rejoicings in drinking water, the filling of the seas, muddy-puddle-jumping, and of course, the growing of food for us to eat.

From my perspective, rain certainly is a blessing from God and a special one at that, because it connects all of humanity.

We all need water and most of the time we mercifully receive it. But right now, we in Australia, find ourselves at a juncture where we desperately need more of it. The drought continues and it has shown us the destructive power of rain being withheld.

It might do us good to look to the heavens and pray for God to let it rain. But even if praying is not your thing, I invite you to join me in resolving to see rain for the good it is the next time it comes, rather than cursing your momentary inconvenience.

Tom Hoffmann

Pastor - St Johns Southgate

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