If we live faithfully, much of our ministry involves sowing
seeds, whose fruit we never see. This is a particular ministry of
cathedrals with anonymous visitors, but it is also true of the
smallest parish church, and of each of us personally. We have to
learn to wait patiently for the gospel to bear fruit.
THIS Advent, the readings focus on discipleship. John the
Baptist's words are straight to the point, but only Matthew gives
the reason for his call to repent: the Kingdom of heaven has come
near, bringing with it a new citizenship, a distinctive way of
Just what do we do, day by day, to live as people of Advent
hope? Our task is to work out how to live as it the Lord is coming
What do the readings say about kingship? Jeremiah records that
kingship derives from God, who rescues his people from being
scattered like lost sheep; kingship is about wisdom, bringing
justice and righteousness to the land and people, creating the
security that facilitates well-being. This is, however, only part
of the story.
LIVING and working at Durham Cathedral, I find it hard to
envisage a situation where the building is destroyed, no stone left
upon another, and all thrown down. The cathedral has stood for
nearly a millennium to the glory of God. Countless visitors
describe it as a prayed-in place, in which they feel (sometimes
surprisingly, even involuntarily) drawn closer to God.
THE fictional but truth-telling story of Job is, at one level,
all about words.
We pray for God to kindle the flame of love in our hearts,
so that we have the same faith and power of love as the saints. The
kindling in Zacchaeus's life was Jesus's seeking and knowing
acceptance of him. That kindling welcome lit a fire of
transformation of Zacchaeus's way of life - just as, in the lives
of the Thessalonians, God's grace kindled steadfastness and faith
in the face of persecution and affliction.
Today is the Last Sunday after Trinity. We end this season with
salutary and sobering readings. At the same time, we pray in the
collect that we may to learn through patience and the comfort of
God's holy word to embrace and ever hold fast the hope of eternal
WHEN someone will not take no for an answer, a friend says:
"What don't you understand, the N or the O?" I can imagine the
judge shouting something similar to the woman in Jesus's
In the Gospel, Jesus was in the territory between Samaria and
Galilee, a route normally avoided by faithful Jews, who shunned the
Samaritans, whom they considered apostate. It does not take much
stretch of the imagination to identify these very familiar enmities
and fears in the world today.
So often, people ask God for something, and, faced with
troubles, almost immediately pronounce the prayer unanswered.
Habakkuk dared to express his doubts and fears, and, despite his
impatient question, waited patiently for God's timing.