Hymn for today – faith for tomorrow.

Worship this morning included Bryn Rees’s hymn: Have faith in God, my heart…my mind… my soul with the sublime lines “God’s mercy holds a wiser plan than you can fully know.”

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The Peace of Jerusalem

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” sang the psalmist in words that are sacred for Jews, Moslems and Christians.    What if every faithful, believing Jew, Moslem and Christian were to do just that in sincerity and truth?   What miracle might we see?

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Sign ot the Divine

Last week I was meditating on the Pharisees’ demand for a sign.   In the face of such inhumanity as the Nazi death camps and gas chambers the need for a sign of God’s presence seems reason enough.

This afternoon I was given an answer in reading “Lest Innocent Blood be Shed” by Philip Hallie,  Harper & Row, 1979.  It is an account of the efforts of the village of le Chambon, a village in Southern France under the Vichy regime, dedicated to the protection of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.   I have only read the first 44 pages but it is truly inspirational and I can’t wait to read on.

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I have just discovered Kahlil Gibran’s book “The Prophet”.    Would it not be a salutary idea to have his chapter on buying and selling posted at the entrance to every supermarket and department store?    Better still, printed on all their plastic bags.

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The other night I had a nightmare.   I dreamt that I had just left school with absolutely no qualifications.   I was searching desperately for a job but every door I tried was closed.   Put like that it may sound rather tame for a nightmare but I woke with an awful, sickening sense of despair.   The relief I felt when I realised that I was 82 and had no need to find a job was indescribable.    So what must it be like for those young people for whom this is a living nightmare from which there is no wakening?

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Here, There or Everywhere

Yesterday we had the privilege of sharing in a service of thanksgiving at the City Temple in preparation for the relocation of the Council for World Mission Secretariat from London to Singapore.    The church seemed barely half-full, in marked contrast to the congregation that packed Westminster Chapel on the occasion of my valediction to Tuvalu in 1958.
What does this tell us about the Church today?     Admittedly the service was by invitation and not widely publicised, whereas that in 1958 was in the context of the then popular Congregational May Meetings but the question is still relevant.
I suspect the answer may lie partly in the fact that while it is more blessed to give than to receive giving may sometimes be easier than receiving;  speaking easier than listening;  teaching easier than learning.    Receiving, listening, learning involve indebtedness, an acknowledgement of need and that is an affront to human pride.
It was no accident that it was the London Missionary Society that sent me to Tuvalu in 1958.    London seemed the centre of our Christian world and we prided and congratulated ourselves that we had something precious to offer to the rest of the world.   We still do but only as we have the humility to acknowledge that we are indeed only on the periphery of that Christian world – as a glance at the globe will show – and have as much need to receive as to give, to listen as to speak, to learn as to teach.
For me the lesson of that half full church is that mission is not about giving or receiving but about sharing and it is a hard lesson to learn.    One of the hymns sung at that thanksgiving service began “The Church is wherever….” and only as we acknowledge that we cannot expect to flourish.

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Which Way UP?

In  an excellent serom in Radio 4′s Ascension Day service yesterday the preacher reminded us that in 200 years Christianity had turned the Roman Empire upside down.    What a pity that a hundred years later the emperor Constantine turned Christianity upside down!

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