On Dec 16, 2020, at 11:00 PM, Nicholas Sykes <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
December 2020 is turning out to be rather different from most Decembers - for the obvious reason of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic and for the somewhat - for us in Cayman - less intrusive but quite as significant pressure of world politics. On these matters I do not intend to be forcefully opinionated or to steer anyone in any particular direction. The one counsel I would like to share is based on the account of the number of teeth in a horse’s mouth and the development of scientific thinking I was given in my secondary schooling. it went something like this:
Everybody used to know that the number of teeth in a horse’s mouth was forty, because the Greek philosophers said it was forty, and these were influential people that everybody respected. Indeed, to question their statement was a sign of some disrespect and it was pretty much unthinkable to try to keep a horse’s mouth open to see if they were right. Nobody really thought to ask if any of them had actually looked into a horse’s mouth and counted the teeth.
However, the story goes, the day came when someone did just that to some horses and found that while indeed many horses did have forty teeth, mares generally had fewer and indeed some horses had more. Moreover, that person had the fortitude to disclose his finding to others. Whoever that person was, he or she was the first scientist. Or, at any rate, as we might say, the first independent researcher.
Whether things quite went that way is impossible to say - it probably didn’t: but the account nevertheless conveys a certain truth about truth, and I am convinced, in today’s opinion-driven info-sphere, about the importance of independent verification and of the rejection of herd allegiance, however powerfully (or subtly) that may be projected.
As the Lord Himself said, His Kingdom was the Kingdom of Truth: and the truth “shall make you free” (John 8.32). It follows that whatever is untrue has an inherent capacity to enslave us - as, again, can currently be discerned, and also as the record of the conversation between the Lord and the Pharisees as He set forth this principle confirms.
The Season of Advent challenges us to distinguish truth from falsehood as illumination is distinguished from obscuration. It is difficult to imagine a time in which this could be more needful than now; it is also easy to recall the great failure of the 1930s when a challenge of some likeness to today's was ignored, and the Christian western world, along with its Church, then failed a great test.
The Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent is
O LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
The Collect, as so often, we see to be inspired by the Holy Spirit: in this instance to speak of all the circumstances of our common life in which we are “sore let and hindered” in the great “race that is set before us”, and petitioning our plentiful God for the speedy help and deliverance of His “bountiful grace and mercy”. How we must long and pray for the fulfilment of this great petition! May such needs as we have just thought about be abundantly addressed!
For directions on the services on Sunday please see the website www.truthwithlanguage.com
Please note that there will be no Zoomed service on this Sunday evening. At 6 pm we plan to take our carolling this year to the Dart Family Park behind the National Trust Clubhouse, recognising that there could well be covid-related difficulties considered to arise from our usual practice this year.
On Friday, Christmas Day we shall celebrate the Eucharist at my residence 19 Kingschase Drive at 5 pm.; and we shall hold “Christmas Sunday” on Sunday the 27th (St John’s Day) at the Clubhouse in Dart Family Park at the usual hour.
Let us pray that the Lord may grant us the special graces needed to meet the great challenges of our time.
In His Name,
PS Residents will have heard of the recent passing of the late Pastor John Jefferson (“Chef John”), of whom many including myself were very fond. May his soul rest in peace.