In one way or another, as Christians we can and should give thanks for the certain end to the pains of our present condition. However extraordinarily terrible the circumstances are that we may fear or are even encountering, however unexpectedly bad might our circumstances as a society or as individuals be or become, as Christians we have the unshakeable conviction that those circumstances do not represent or depict the end or outcome of the story. For whatever reason, and indeed I am unsure why it is so, this conviction has been particularly powerful with me since Monday. And I write as one who is alarmed at the outcome of Monday’s parliamentary debate, not as one who was pleased about it.
There are indeed many things about this year and last that have been alarming to me, and I don’t intend to try to supply a list of them. Quite a number of them will probably be things which have made you, my reader, alarmed as well. It is not just the fear of contracting the disease itself, but moreso how we as family members will continue to be able to continue to be part of one another’s lives. It is the fear about how we in the Western world can ever recover at all anything of how we used to relate to one another. For Christians we must in particular be alarmed about the question mark placed over what forms of church life can continue to exist. I count myself blessed for becoming an old person before the most recent of these things started to happen; so what then will happen to the pastoral care of the church, and to those called to offer it, in the years ahead?
But, as alarmed as we may be, I am still certain that in one way or another, as I’ve said already, "we can and should give thanks for the certain end to the pains of our present condition.” As Christians we have the opportunity to make use of the perspective of faith that many in the world do not have - the sense of perspective that makes a picture or a photograph, when you look into it, seem to have depth. We can look into the circumstances of life and become aware of a depth dimension that others do not discern. In the current events some will only experience a loss of trust all around - in our doctors, in the media, in governments, in our fellow-Christians and the list goes on. For us, though, we are called to discern something deeper. As CS Lewis wrote in his “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” series of children’e books, “Aslan is on the move!” Christ is coming anew. And in Him, all the confronting and outstanding issues are beginning to find, and will find, their resolution.
The Collect for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity is
O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We indeed are not able to “please” the Lord “without” Him and His inputs, the faith and the perspectives that He provides and that do not without Him come naturally. In all our flounderings around this pandemic, for example, we have perhaps been reminded of this. Perhaps we could not have been reminded if we had had greater certainty. May He therefore indeed “mercifully grant” that His “Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
For directions about the services this Sunday the 10th October the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, please see the website www.TruthWithLanguage.com .
In reliance upon the mighty power of the Triune God to keep us faithful to and in all truth, I am in your service