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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

30 January 2019: Sylvia Roberts, St Peter's Church, Petersfield


We had to take our grandson back to university a couple of weeks ago and I was intrigued to notice on his student campus that a method of keeping weeds under control round each of the residential blocks was laying out and pegging down yards of weed-retardant membrane. The reason the feature particularly caught my eye was the fact that each membrane was fringed with very luxuriant weeds. It made me smile as I recalled a television advertisement which still makes me laugh even after multiple showings. A man looks despairingly at his driveway as the dandelions pop their heads up saying in their best gruff cockney accent, “Hello mate!” I imagined the healthy university weeds with the same cheeky voices.

Seeing these weeds doing so well in midwinter made me think of my weeding efforts across the years. I have always noticed that the worst weeds such as nettles and dandelions appear to give up easily. When they are pulled they come away freely in the hand and I feel initially triumphant at having cleared them away…. but the roots still remain to sprout again another day. Weeding seems to make me quite thoughtful and philosophical and so, not altogether surprisingly, I am soon thinking about how much those common weeds resemble our besetting sins. How often have I thought that I am no longer subject to jealousy? Or how many times have I felt quite sure that my temper will never get the better of me again or that I am never going to sit in judgement on someone else again? I guess I have felt like this on many occasions about these and other besetting sins…..but the roots are still there and those recurrent sins pop their heads up again so quickly like those insidious weeds. It is then that I am glad, once more, to turn to my bible and the last eleven verses of the Epistle to the Romans where St. Paul puzzles at him self saying, “I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” and by the end of the chapter reaches the conclusion that it is only through Jesus that he can be set free. If it’s good enough for St. Paul it’s good enough for me.

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