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St Columba's Prayer Garden
Stones tell us stories,
Remembering the old church
With your back to the gate, on your left you will see a number of stone carvings from the original St Columba's Church. From the old altar are the carved words of Jesus: ‘I am the light of the world.'
Three stone panels carry traditional Christian symbols
The pelican: The good mother who, legend says, will feed her young with the blood from her own breast when food is scarce. She has become a symbol of Christ in his relationship with his church.
You might like to thank Jesus for his body on earth, the community of the church. May we be ready to give of ourselves for our communities, as Christ gave himself for us
In hoc signo - ‘In this sign'
The story goes that the Roman Emperor, Constantine, was facing a vast army of Barbarians.The night before battle, he had a vision of the cross and heard the words: ‘In this sign you will conquer'. He had all the eagle standards replaced by crosses, and the Romans were victorious. This marked the beginning of the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. In this sign we still do our work today, and you will see these letters on many church objects.
How might Jesus be calling us to step out in his name?
The Lamb of God, Jesus, is our Passover Lamb: He died at the season of the Passover, and through his death we are saved.
Revelation 5:11-14: "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!' Then I heard every creature in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!' The four living creatures said, 'Amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped."
The beloved symbol of all Christians who remember how Jesus died for us. You might like to ponder on the words of St Paul:
Philippians 2:5-11: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The Wild Garden
Move along the side of the church, and take the path up the slope to the back left hand corner of the grounds, where you will come upon the wild garden:
See the logs to shelter the bugs: ugly, apparently useless, but so valuable for shelter – enabling pollination, fertilisation, and cleaning of the soil
What about those weeds? We need to be vigilant in the garden and in our lives. (In the psalms, David speaks of enemies lying in wait for us, and he emphasises the importance of rooting them out, not allowing them to take hold.) We notice the great variety of them, and consider different ways in which we are tempted and fall. We see too that some of the weeds are so interwoven with the good plants that they have to be allowed to grow with the good plants until they are big enough to tell the difference, and the good plants are strong enough to risk the trauma of yanking the enemies out from round their roots.
You might like to spend a while pondering on the parable in the next section.
Matthew 13:24-30:The Parable of the Weeds
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared."
"The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
The wild flowers: they have been established gradually; some are very fragile, but they are growing and spreading. Consider: what is the difference between a wild flower and a weed?
Leave the wild garden behind you, and make for the clump of holly and buddleia, where you'll find a bench in the shade.Take time to sit and think.
We all need Sabbath times – God hasn't made us work horses, but He loves to see us play, to have us spend time quietly, to enjoy one another; to get to know Him and to relish the shelter and refreshment He provides.
Do you see the tree overhead? Look up into it and feel the shelter and protection God provides.
Just a bit along the wall is a rose. It nearly died but was rescued. It seems so sharp and strong, but is actually surprisingly brittle and fragile, and needs support and gentle handling. Some people we think are prickly may in fact just be trying to defend themselves – could we handle them more gently?
The Bible Garden
Continue from the shelter to the back, eastern corner of the garden. There, against the wall, you will find a collection of plants with little labels that bear the names of the plant and a Bible reference, because each plant here has been mentioned in the Bible.
Give yourself time to think of some of the stories where they appear. How marvellous to think that we are seeing the same kinds of plants as those that people were aware of in the Holy Land so many generations ago.
You will find a list of the plants at the back of this leaflet.
The Rowan Tree
From the Bible garden, walk southward.You will find a young rowan planted close to the site of the altar of the old church - looking back to years of faithful worship.
According to legend, the rowan is planted in gardens, and in church grounds, to ward off evil spirits.
The compass points at its roots remind us of the influence of God across the world, in every aspect of our lives. Our challenge is to look out to all points of the compass. This is also our mission.
Think of countries in the news at the moment. Stand facing in the direction of each one and pray for God's love to pour across the intervening miles and bring healing.
Remembering those we've loved
To the right of the church door you will find the Ardvreck Memorial.
We pause for a moment to thank God for the sacrifice of those from this area who died in the First and Second World Wars. Here is a chance to pray for an end to war – and to remember those who have lost their lives, and those whose lives have been changed forever by war – and for their families and friends who mourn them.
To the left of the church door, and just round the west side of the church, you will find the memorial stones for family members.
As we read the names, we rejoice in the generations of people who have made up the family of this church, and we thank God for placing us in this living community where we can share in the life and service and support of all those who have gone before us.
Plants represented in St Columba's Church Bible Garden
- Balm - Ezekiel 27:17, (RSV)…honey, oil and balm
- Box - Isaiah 60:13, (King James Version )…the fir tree, the pine tree and the box together….
- Bramble - Luke 6:44, (RSV)…nor are grapes from a bramble bush…
- Broom - 1 Kings 19:4 (RSV)…sat down under a broom tree
- Coriander - Numbers 11:7 (RSV) Now the manna was like coriander seed…
- Fennel (Galbanum) - Exodus 30:4 (RSV) Take sweet spices…
- Garlic - Numbers 11:5-6 (RSV)...the leeks, the onions and the garlic…
- Hyssop - John 19:29 (RSV)...so they put a sponge full of vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth…
- Jacob's Ladder - Genesis 28:12 (Good News)...he dreamt that he saw a stairway…
- Lily - Hosea 14:5 (RSV) Hosea 14:5...he shall blossom as the lily…
- Linum (Flax) - John 20:5 (RSV)…he saw the linen cloths…
- Mint and Dill - Matthew 23:23 (RSV) “Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill and cumin“...
- Mallow - Job 6:6 (NRSV)…is there any flavour in the juice of mallows?
- Poppy - Isaiah 40:6 (RSV) …the flower of the field...
- Rue - Luke 11:42 (RSV)...you tithe mint and rue…
- Solomon's Seal - Matthew 6:6 Not even Solomon, in all his splendour...
- Star of Bethlehem (also known as “dove's dung”) - 2 Kings 6:25 ...two hundred grammes of dove's dung…
- Wormwood - Proverbs 5:4 (RSV)...her end is bitter as wormwood...