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Scolt Head Island - Romans 12: 9-21

It is great to be back and it was, you will be pleased to hear, lovely to be away.  One of the trips that I specially look forward to in the summer is the outing to Scolt Head Island.  Lying a short distance from Burnham Overy Staithe you can reach it by water, the boys sometimes take the canoe, or at low tides you can cross via a network of paths through creeks and a little bit of wading.  Being slightly difficult to reach, there are relatively few visitors even in the height of August and then they congregate on the eastern end of the island closest to the little ferry that occasionally runs to the mainland.  So, if having chosen a sunny day and timed the tides correctly, you turn the corner and walk along the northern side of the island that faces the sea, then very soon you find yourself on a totally deserted beach that stretches beyond the horizon.  Even after many visits, I am still struck by and marvel at how perfect it all is.  Somehow even though it is wild and so by our human standards rather random, everything seems to be in exactly the right place: the dunes the wisps of grass, the line of shells and seaweeds, the shapes of the sandbanks, the colours of the sky, the grass, the sea; all is precisely right, even the driftwood seems to be where it ought to be.

Since I came back on Thursday evening, there have been a wedding rehearsal, two weddings, one on Friday and one yesterday and today we shall later bless Lynda and David Logan on the occasion of their fortieth wedding anniversary.  So the question of marriage and of love has been much on my mind.

“Let love be genuine, love one another with mutual affection, do not lack in zeal, be ardent in spirit” Do you notice how everything that Paul says and commands us simply feels and sounds right?  “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, live in harmony with one another live peaceably with all.”

In the marriage service there is a part of the opening prayer that says “marriage is the gift of God in creation.”  I am particularly fond of this idea for it simply and beautifully takes us back to the beginning, back to the book of Genesis where Adam and Eve are in the garden of Eden listening to God walk in the cool of the evening.  Everything was perfect and in its right place.

As we think and pray for Christopher and Emma, married on Friday, of Siobhan and Dean yesterday and of Lynda and David forty years ago, it is well to remember that love itself is a gift from God and that it is as beautiful and perfect as my deserted beach where the only footprints in the sand other than ours are those of the rare little terns who come every year to court and to breed on the sandy coasts.

So indeed let us try to live with Paul’s perfect idea “let love be genuine, hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good.”

Amen.

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