Today I had a day off. A Tuesday off actually. Days off in the week are more useful than weekends, because I might be sober. I went to my favourite library and found ‘The Hope of a New World’ by William Temple, the Archbishop of York in 1940. It’s interesting that I felt so immediately drawn to this book, written as a spiritual guide as Europe was at war.
‘The world can be saved from political chaos and collapse by one thing only - worship. To worship is to feed the conscience with justice, feed the mind with truth, feed the imagination with beauty, feed the heart with love.. All this is gathered up in the emotion which cleanses us most from selfishness because it is the least selfish of the emotions - adoration.’
Temple introduced me to a new word - jeremiad. It means lamentation, or list of woes. I’m glad this community has a jeremiad. Evangelism relies on us being able to reflect or articulate divinity. If God / goodness is oversimplified, our ability to feel and express pain is demonized. We can become emotionally stunted. ‘Lamentations’ has been a beautiful and important expression of our struggles, but now I want to think about Hope.
Contentment, feeling happy just as I am has seemed passive, unambitious, almost weak.
In the context of general spiritual well being, hope and contentment have always seemed paradoxical to me. Episodic depression aside, I’m an optimistic person. I can usually visualise a future filled with happiness, and see steps to getting there. Contentment, feeling happy just as I am has seemed passive, unambitious, almost weak.
I recently heard a sermon by Jarel Robinson-Brown (author of Black Gay British Christian Queer: The Church and the Famine of Grace) about Luke 5. When Jesus meets Simon Peter for the first time, it sounds like Jesus was pretty annoying. He commandeered Simon’s boat to use as a pulpit, then gave him spontaneous and unasked for advice on how to do his job. The text doesn’t describe what Jesus said to the crowd, but it impacted Simon enough to listen, trust Jesus’ instructions to go ‘to deep water and put down your nets’ and most evocative of all, fall at Jesus’ feet.
‘“Get away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man”, for they were all astonished at the catch of fish they had taken.
Jesus said to Simon “Do not be afraid, from now on you will fish for people”’
One cause of fear is being in the presence of someone totally out of your league.
Jarel reminded me that this passage doesn’t mean I can hope that one day (with enough work and meditation and good deeds) I might be good enough. God isn’t waiting for me to become more divine before giving me purpose, getting ‘better’ is a side effect - an important one for sure - but I’m ready now. We all are. God tells us to have faith in ourselves and hope for ourselves, but without genuine love for ourselves neither are possible.
God isn’t waiting for me to become more divine before giving me purpose, getting ‘better’ is a side effect - an important one for sure - but I’m ready now. We all are.
If I am fluent in every known and unknown language except love - I say nothing
If I understand every past present and future mystery of the universe - except love - I know nothing
If I sacrifice everything I am and have for any reason except love - I give nothing
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love does not dishonour others, it is not selfish, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not hide from, but rejoices with, truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Three things are eternal, faith, hope, and love. The strongest of these is love. The opposite of fear is love.
Three things are eternal: faith, hope, and love.
Ben kicks off a new series where we ask why we gather. Today Ben reflects on the Nicene Creed. This is part 1 of a 3 part essay from Ben.
Andy shares his story and how to compassionately approach praying for others.