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Lym Zim

As Lym Zim approaches its closure, here is a pictorial look back at what YOU have achieved over the years since we launched in April 2003 at the request of several parishioners who sought a charity where they could be sure the funds were spent wisely and reached the intended recipients would serve as reminder of some of YOUR achievements!

From 2003 to 2010 we supported a Cheshire Home in Harare caring for severally disabled children by equipping their bare physiotherapy room and later building a residential and disability resource centre for disabled young people throughout Zimbabwe. 

With Cheshire now able to function well we moved on to support Emerald Hill School for the Deaf and a group of deaf children at Pedro Arrupe centre based at the very rural Jesuit Mission Station at Musami. We installed electricity and water and reroofed the houses and generally improved the living conditions.

For as long as possible, Lym Zim will continue to support the girls at Emerald Hill and other school projects. Fund raising is low key due to my poor health and I will be unable to make and sell the usual 1000 Christmas cards.

As always, it is to thank you from so many in Zimbabwe and give you assurance that you are in their prayers every day.

Luke 21: 5-19

In today’s gospel reading, we heard Jesus predict the destruction of the beautiful Temple in Jerusalem, and he uses very vivid language  to describe it; earthquakes, wars and famines, persecutions, horrors, betrayals and violent death.

Many people think that throughout this whole passage, Jesus was talking about the end of the world. In their minds eye they’ve drawn a time line which joins the violence with the immediate end of the world. They expect no gap between them.

But that wasn’t the case at all. Jesus’s main point here, was the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem and  the difficulties which his followers would face in the time just before this. And we should notice that Jesus didn’t say just how long before.

So it’s a pity that many fundamental religious groups have used this passage to teach that particular catastrophes signal the immediate end of the world as we know it.

They’re wrong. And perhaps if they were a bit more consistent they’d pay a great deal more attention to some very clear teaching of Jesus that nobody will know the day or the hour

Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple which actually took place about 40 years after his death. He read the political circumstances accurately, and he could see that the Romans wouldn’t put up with the Jewish problem for much longer.

So he warned his followers that they would face much danger at that time. He also said that he wouldn’t, be there, bodily, to lead and encourage them.
They would face trials, beatings and death, but he emphasised that they had to be patient.

False teachers, natural disasters and frightening rumours would tempt them to panic and to suspect that the present age was rapidly ending.

But he said they must resist the temptation to draw that conclusion, because it isn’t for us to know when God’s new creation will be complete. When God’s dimension of reality and ours will be joined and His Kingdom will exist on earth, just as it is in heaven.
Jesus promised his disciples that they would be given what they needed to say during those times when they would be on trial for their lives because of their allegiance to him.

And as we read the accounts of the experiences of the first Christians, between the time of the resurrection and the fall of the Temple ,we can see quite clearly that  they were promises which were honoured. Many early Christians would testify that Jesus had indeed been with them and given them words to say.

But our gospel reading this morning has much to say to us as well. There’s a temptation for those of us who don’t face persecution, to become cynical. It’s easy for us to suppose because nothing much is happening, that the Kingdom of God is just a fancy dream. We might feel inclined to dismiss, as difficult to understand picture language, the kind of account which we’ve just heard. But once more we need to hold the tension of what it means to live as a Christian. We need to be aware that things can and often do, change dramatically and very quickly. And so, perhaps we should reflect on this passage and prepare ourselves.

Many Christians today face persecution every bit as severe as that which the early church endured.  Just think of what’s being experienced by our brothers and sisters who live in fundamental Islamic countries.  And those Christians need more than the support and prayers of those of us who live in more fortunate places; they also need to hear the voice of Jesus recorded in Holy Scripture. The voice which says the words of encouragement:
“ Don’t let anyone deceive you; be patient, stand firm and I will give you my wisdom”. The words which Jesus used to encourage his first followers are words which he still uses to encourage us today.

We’ll get more from this passage when we see it in its original setting. Jesus could see what was around the corner waiting to break out in AD 70, and he encouraged his followers to stand firm.

For ourselves, we may be called to live in less troubled times, but we may still see the destruction of cherished and beautiful symbols; just as the Jewish people saw the destruction of the Temple, with all its symbolism for them.

Many of us have lived through times when old values seem to be thrown away. We may well feel that the world has lost its sense of direction, and is breaking up in front of our very eyes.
We see churches being vandalized and destroyed. And we don’t need to look very far for examples.

We see whole generations of children growing up in what is supposed to be a Christian country, but without the slightest knowledge about God and Jesus Christ.
Children who’ve been taught that the biggest wrong is getting caught, we see family life disintegrating as young people pursue what they see as happiness through material gain.  And we may well be laughed at and mocked for continuing with our faith, when many people, even of our own generation , have given up on what they see as meaningless mumbo jumbo.

Our calling then is to hold on to Jesus himself and to continue to trust that through him, in his good time, the new world will be born through this pain.
God, in Christ has won the victory. Evil has been defeated even if sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. There will continue to be mopping up operations throughout time until that great day comes when God will finally draw the curtain on history.

Jesus told us to be sure of that, He didn’t tell us that we should spend our time looking out for particular circumstances and double guessing God’s time plan.
So, the verses that we’ve just heard, remain precious promises to be learned ahead of time and to be remembered and held in moments of need.

May God bless us all to this end, Amen.

Luke 16: 19-31

Dives and Lazarus.

We’ve just heard a little story which Jesus told about a rich man who didn’t share with a poor man who was begging just outside of his house. In some accounts of this story, the rich man is called Dives, and so this tale is often called the story of Dives and Lazarus.

Now, I don’t suppose Dives was a really bad man, he was just blind to what was going on right under his nose, and when he woke up to the truth, it was all too late.

It’s quite common not to share, and if we feel a bit guilty, well, we can always give away a little bit from our surplus. A couple of pounds to a seller of the “Big Issue”, or an on-line donation on Red Nose day. That always makes us feel better; but is it actually much different from the way in which Dives probably let Lazarus have his scraps?

You see, in the end if we aren’t prepared to share we shall pay a heavy price. That’s what today’s little story should teach us.

We also need to realise that it’s not just about the rich refusing to share with the poor. It will be just as bad for a poor man who refuses to share what little he’s got. Let me tell you another story:

Some time ago in a remote Indian town four beggars used to sleep in the same derelict building, where they’d meet at the end of each day’s begging.

One evening they’d all returned home after they’d had a really bad day. No money at all. However, one of the beggars had a few scraps of meat from a butcher’s shop; another had a few carrots and onions, the third had some potatoes and turnips, and the fourth had a handful of lentils and some rice.

It wasn’t long before they realised that if they each put all of the different foods in to a pot and boiled them up than at least they’d be able to have some hot stew.

The pot of boiling water was soon ready, but the first beggar thought to himself:

“ It’s dark, and the others won’t see what I’m doing. If I just pretend to chuck the meat in they’ll never know, and then I can share the stew and keep the meat for myself.” And that’s what he did.

The other beggars thought exactly the same and then they all sat back waiting for the meal to cook. They were all secretly pleased with the way in which they’d been able to deceive the others whilst not sharing themselves. They weren’t so pleased an hour later when each one helped himself to a dish full of hot water from the cooking pot.

You see, when you refuse to share, the end result will always be bad for you. In the case of the beggars it was straight away. In the case of Dives it was after he’d died. But the end result was the same.

So, as Christians ought we to be giving money to beggars because we fear that if we don’t we shall share the fate of Dives? Should we be giving to the poor in order to gain some brownie points with God? Or, if we don’t have much money could we perhaps increase our standing with the Almighty by sharing our time or our energies with voluntary service?

I don’t think so, because you know, we should always examine our motives for sharing what we have, or for giving to charity.

It’s very easy, and quite wrong to make gifts and donations of money, goods or time in the mistaken belief that by doing so we’re actually gaining credit with God.

It doesn’t work like that. It might give us a warm glow, or ease our conscience, but it doesn’t cut any ice with God.

There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do to earn a place in heaven. All that’s necessary has been done by Jesus as he gave himself for us on a Roman cross outside of Jerusalem. And anything  we do, should be out of our reaction to the love of God which we see in the death of Jesus.

We give, and we try to love , in response to the love which gave itself for us. It’s when we sit and think about this that we can begin to make a bit of a response even when that response is poor and probably out of proportion to what we have.

We give and we share, because God loves us and gives and shares his life for us. We may, or we may not, feel full of compassion for those who need what we can share.

But what matters most, is that we sit down and consider carefully, and with prayer, what kind of response God wants us to make.

When we realise that we can bring nothing of value to God except our responsive love, and when we stand in tears at the foot of the cross, then God will gently show us what he would have us do. And perhaps to our surprise he’ll also provide us with the means to do it.

We are all called to respond to the love of Jesus by listening to his voice as he tells us how to respond in love to his love. As he moves us perhaps slowly and gently and step by step to share what he gives us.

As he fills our hearts with responsive love and a realisation that “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me .”

And when we get this right we are inevitably drawn ever more deeply into the joy and peace which Jesus promised to those who follow him.

Now, isn’t that Good News?!

Luke 12: 49-56

“They will be divided; father against son, and mother against daughter.”

Well, this doesn’t sound much like a teaching from gentle Jesus, meek and mild does it? It sounds more like what you might find going on at a family dispute over the will of a distant relative.

So, how on earth can we square this with the teaching of Jesus which says:

“Love the Lord your God with all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as yourself ”?

Let me tell you a true story.

When I was an Anglican curate I was asked to visit an elderly widow who was once married to a clergyman.

The parish priest had told me that she was very difficult; and I know that he found it hard to talk with her. But I visited her, and yes, at first, it was difficult. But I kept visiting, and when she was taken to hospital in Taunton I visited her there as well.

When she came home I continued to go to her house and before very long we started to get on just fine. She wasn’t difficult at all, and I soon realised that she was very sad, and actually very angry with The Church.

On one occasion she told me that she’d once asked her  clergyman husband whether he loved God more than he loved her, and he told her that he loved God most. Can you imagine the hurt which he caused his wife as he said that?

Now any clergy wife will tell you that they have to share their husband, and I know from my own experience that its sometimes a very hard thing for them to do.

And although I believe that a priest is called to serve above everything else, I don’t believe that by neglecting my own family ties I’m somehow serving God in a special way.

Surely, what Jesus is teaching in today’s gospel reading is that we need to be totally committed to him. And this will sometimes result in disagreement and division from people who are closest to us.

It doesn’t mean that we have to seek ways of telling them and showing them what committed Christians we actually are.

We do well to remember that Jesus didn’t start his public ministry until he was 30. Why do you think he waited that long? Do you think he was busy devising a mission plan, or talking things over in the Jewish equivalent of a PPC? I don’t. I think Joseph had died and Jesus, the eldest lad, was busy looking after his mother and his younger relatives, until they could manage without him.

It was after this, when they came looking for him, that he said “Whoever does the will of God is my mother, my brother and my sister”. But Jesus never neglected his family. Even as he hung dying on the cross, he commended his mother into the care of his friend John.

Of course, if we take our faith seriously we have to be totally committed, and this commitment will inevitably cause friction. Your partner or your children will find some of the things you feel you should do are very strange, to say the least.

There are plenty of things in my life which need attention. Plenty of places where my lack of commitment to God makes me desperately ashamed, so I’m not trying to paint a rosy picture here, I’m trying to explain how this teaching of Jesus can make sense in the everyday life of an ordinary 21st century Christian.

We don’t live in those parts of the world where we face terrible dangers for the sake of the gospel. Clergy here, don’t need to send their families off to a place of safety whilst they stay to look after a church because there isn’t anyone else to do it. Thank God that we aren’t brought to that kind of test.

But we do need to ask God to show us just where we deny him. Everybody does. Peter denied Jesus. Judas betrayed him, and all the rest ran away. We all run away each day of our lives and that’s why the challenge of Jesus needs to be so sharp. Perhaps we run away from Jesus by fleeing away from the world into a type of religious life which allows us to neglect those whom we should be loving. It’s easy to worship God in church; it’s harder to worship him by loving your neighbour.

We must never forget the chain reaction which Jesus taught. He said:

“ When you give  a cup of cold water to the least of my followers, you’re giving it to me, and through me to God”

This is what loving God means. This is how we show our commitment to Jesus.

It’s said that here in Western Europe we live in a post Christian age, but if there’s any truth in that then we surely need to relearn the simple but deep message that we cannot separate love of God and love of neighbour.A lesson which will once more enable us to go out with a message to challenge and change the hearts of those we meet. 

May God give us all the grace to learn this lesson.

Luke 12; 35-40

It’s wise to be prepared for events which can happen very suddenly; but problems can arise if we’ve prepared for something which never seems to happen. Because then we can begin to think that all of our hard work has been in vain.

And, the early Church had a problem just like that.

 The first Christians had been taught about the coming of a new age which would change everything. A time when Jesus would return and when the Kingdom of God would be fully established.

And in the gospel story which we’ve just heard, Jesus is teaching about the importance of being prepared for this. He underlined his point by using a little parable.

He told his followers that just as a rich man’s servants who waited up for him, not knowing when he would return from his party-going, would be rewarded; so would those who were prepared for the second coming ,find favour with God.

However, this hadn’t happened, and the longer the wait, the greater the problem became. And this can be a problem for us too. “It hasn’t happened”, we might say, and then we might be tempted to add, “And it isn’t going to happen in my life time either”.

From there, it’s a short step to forget about it, and not to make any preparations at all.

But the whole reason for being prepared is that, we just can’t know when all of this will take place.  Jesus himself said that only God the Father knew. And so, we wait.

But, you know, when you think about it, there’s a great deal of waiting in the Bible. Waiting for exodus from slavery in Egypt.  Waiting to return from exile. Waiting for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  Waiting for the coming of the Messiah. And now, waiting for the return of Jesus.

God’s people hope for salvation and the hope becomes a part of our story.  We have to struggle, because it seems that so often God just  doesn’t hear us.  Why do evil and suffering so often appear to be in control? Is God angry?  Is it our sin?  And yet we’re told that God will judge evil, and that he will redeem suffering.

So, perhaps in some way it’s the waiting that’s important.  Maybe it’s in looking for the kingdom of God and trying to live by its ways, that disciples are to become the people God hopes for.

As we hunger and thirst for righteousness so we become  more just and loving.  As we long for that time when everyone will know that they’re loved, so we begin to love our neighbours as ourselves.

Perhaps what we should take from all of this is the importance of our desire to be drawn more deeply into the ways of God and the mystery of Jesus.  Given the importance of the waiting, maybe this being drawn in is one of the ways in which we should prepare ourselves as we wait.

And just how do we do this?  Well, first of all, we have to be serious about our faith.  There may be a great deal about it which is beyond us just now, and there may be large chunks of it which make us feel frustrated and angry. If this is the case for you, take heart. It’s probably part of God’s way of drawing you in.

The most important thing is not great theological knowledge; no; it’s  

the realisation that we need to ask God to draw us more deeply into His life.

 He will do this, but it probably won’t be by means of a thunderbolt.  So keep your eyes and ears open for ways in which he answers your prayer.

When you pray, coincidences often happen.  You may feel drawn to speak to somebody.  To read something.  To visit somebody. Perhaps you’ll feel a strong desire to change the way in which you do something.  Maybe your daily routine needs changing.  But respond to these things in faith, and as you respond so other things will begin to connect with them.  God is indeed answering your prayer, and perhaps the miracle is that he’s doing it through the ordinary things of everyday life.

So, maybe we need to hold fast to the teaching which we find in the gospels. Time will end.  God’s kingdom in all its glory will arrive.  But as we wait and try to do his will; as we co-operate with him and allow ourselves to be drawn more deeply into his life then Jesus, through the Spirit, comes to us now.

 “Maranatha. Come quickly, Lord Jesus,” Amen.

The Lords Prayer

Luke 11;1-13 (Matthew 6: 1-18.)  The Lord’s Prayer.

In St Luke’s gospel the Lord’s prayer was given by Jesus to his followers when they asked him to teach them how to pray.  There’s no doubt that prayer should be at the centre of our lives, and yet like the first followers of Jesus, we all experience times when it seems  impossible to pray.

A Saint ,whose name I can’t remember, once said, “There’s only one way to God, and that’s through prayer”. But this raises a lot of questions as to what prayer actually is, and  I expect you’ve met God in many different ways. When some words from scripture seem to be directed at you personally. When you receive communion. We meet him in  each other, when we act lovingly. And we meet him in the beauty of nature.

So, we may take the view that the whole of our lives can become a prayer, and this makes much more sense of the statement that prayer is the only way to God. However, whenever you try to pray seriously in a formal manner, over a period of time, it isn’t long before you become aware that prayer can be tedious, boring and hard; and often seems to go unanswered.

Prayer is one of life’s great mysteries.  Most people pray at least sometimes, and some people pray a great deal.  At its lowest, prayer is shouting into empty space in the hope that that there might be someone out their listening.  At its highest, prayer mergers into love, as the presence of God becomes so real that we pass beyond words and into a sense of his generosity and grace. But for most Christians, for most of the time, it takes place somewhere in between these two extremes.

Sometimes we feel guilty because we think that we’ve forgotten to tell God something, or to pray for somebody who needs God’s help.  And so, we become tempted to try harder, and our prayer life starts to involve long lists of our own, to say nothing of the long lists produced by various church groups. Of course it’s important to pray for particular people and situations, but if we concentrate on this, then we shall feel guilty for much of the time that we pray,  because we shall always forget to remember somebody or something which needs to be held before God like this.

Jesus told us not to rush to God with lengthy shopping lists. In fact he criticised people who piled up a heap of words on the basis that the more they said, the more they were likely to be heard.  And yet, when we try to wait silently on God in prayer, it’s all too easy to allow our minds to be filled with lots of thoughts which quickly break up our prayer time.  So it seems that whenever we try to pray we run the danger of being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Well, we need a framework which will help us as we try to pray, and a framework is just what the Lord’s Prayer gives us. So, what I should like to commend to you this morning, is a method of praying which I find helpful, and which might be useful to you too.

Much of what I’ve said boils down to the suggestion that we don’t need to use a lot of words in prayer, but we do need to concentrate on God in order to bring to him all the things that we should.  And it’s when we’re settled  and quiet, that we’re most likely to hear God speaking to us through the thoughts and convictions and flashes of insight which can appear at those times.

When we’re serious about prayer we know that we must find a regular quiet time best suited to our own pattern of life. For me its very early in the morning. For some people it might be late at night .

So, perhaps some time over the next few days when you begin your prayer time,  use the Lord’s prayer as a basis for your conversation with God.  Begin by just saying “Our Father”.  Then stop.  Just concentrate on that, until you feel it’s time to move on.  There’s no need to say anything; you’re placing yourself in the presence of God your Father. Hold that thought in your silence and just wait for God.  Rest contentedly in His presence and don’t worry if you aren’t immediately transported into realms of spiritual delight.  God knows when you need that kind of consolation.  He also knows when it’s time for you to learn how to give your will to him as well.  And that means being prepared to sit in silence, content to leave to your heavenly Father, the consequences of your prayers.

When you move onto the next phrase,-who art in heaven-just repeat the process.  Perhaps as in your prayers, you acknowledge that God is in Heaven, and as you think about what that might mean, your understanding of heaven may change and grow.  And of course, God will use all kinds of things to speak to you about heaven as you acknowledge his presence there in your prayers.  You would probably be surprised at the vast amount of information which you already have buried deep in your mind about heaven. God isn’t in the least surprised, and is quite able not only to bring this information into your conscious mind, but also to modify and refine it.  But you have to give him a chance.

By now, I guess you’ll have realised that it might not be possible to completely say the Lord’s Prayer in the amount of time which you’ve made available.  Well, that doesn’t matter in the slightest .  Maybe Jesus intended this prayer to be repeated in its entirety, and of course that’s something which we all continue to do.  But I rather suspect that he’s also happy for us to use it as a kind of scaffolding. This prayer isn’t a magic formula.  It’s something we can mean with our minds as well as say with our lips, and it was given by Our Lord in response to his followers request.

Can there be any wonder then, that it’s such a powerful means of realising the closeness and love of God?  Amen.

Luke 10: 25-37

The Good Samaritan

The story of the Good Samaritan is probably one of the best known stories told by Jesus; but I want to tell you another story which I hope will help us look again at some of the deeper teachings which this parable contains.

Tom and Mavis were a retired couple who lived in a large block of flats in the middle of an estate which contained a lot of difficult and anti -social youngsters. They were both in their seventies and despite the fact that they were not very well off they were very happy.

They’d been married for over 50 years, and it would be true to say that they lived for each other. They were decent people and they’d both been brought up in a tradition which had taught them to treat other people as they themselves would want to be treated

Many of the youngsters on the estate took drugs, and were prepared to steal and cheat in order to get the money which they needed to support their habit They also seemed to take delight in being  rude and offensive to older people, and for some reason they’d made a special target of Tom and Mavis.

It was about 6 o’clock one Saturday evening in late November, when four of them carried out the mugging in the stairwell. They snatched Mavis’s handbag, and in the scuffle which followed Tom was stabbed. He died of his injuries early the next morning.
Mavis was devastated, and life seemed to be barely worth living. But she managed to give evidence at the trial, and very slowly she began to cope again. Two years passed before  she really began to pick up the pieces ,and then, almost three years to the day that Tom had died she once more found herself in the dark stair way where she’d been mugged.

She heard the groans before she saw the broken body of the lad who’d been kicked and beaten by his so- called “friends”. And in the dim light she recognised him as one of the hangers on to the group which had destroyed her life.

Although not directly responsible, he’d been there alright. And yet she didn’t hesitate. Perhaps it was because she’d trained and worked as a nurse , but there could be little doubt that her prompt action saved the young man’s life.

When she spoke of the incident afterwards  she admitted that although she recognised the boy and felt the hatred and the fear which his presence brought, there was something else within her which somehow just took over the whole situation.

For most of her life she’d practised caring for men and women who were ill or damaged, or in pain. Some of them were lovely people, but some of them had been very difficult indeed. However, it soon became second nature for her to care for everyone in need who came her way.

Now, I know that this story is only a poor substitute for one small part of the magnificent parable of the Good Samaritan, and that it also reverses one or two roles. But I hope it brings out one of the points which Jesus was making.

My neighbour may well be someone I don’t find easy to get on with, or I may be prejudiced against him or her for some reason. But if that is the case, then I have to learn to go out of my way to care for that person.

Christian love means being willing to understand other people; to listen to their needs and to care for them in practical ways. We don’t choose the neighbours in the street where we live  and we can’t choose whom we will and won’t serve. What we do choose is to allow God to show us who we are to serve.

This means giving hospitality to those who can’t return it; speaking to those who hold a grudge against us ,and perhaps hardest of all, loving those who hate us.

Well, this will often go against the grain. Most of us feel that we have a right to nurse grievances, to take our revenge  and to keep hold of our prejudices. So to become a good neighbour in the sense that Jesus talked about will be hard work. When we find it impossibly hard, as we sometimes will, then we need to come to the Lord, confess our weaknesses and ask him to change our attitude.

For you see, it’s not by doing good deeds out of a sense of duty, it’s when we do them as a spontaneous act of love that we most closely follow the example of Christ.

But when the heart is cold and our first instinct is to pass by, our will can make us turn around to do what we would rather ignore. And these acts of will, when they are often repeated, will lead at last to true acts of love.

This happened for Mavis. It can happen for us too.

Matthew 16: 13-20

Who do people say the Son of Man is?

Have you ever sat in a café with a friend when someone whom you didn’t know, came up and sort of joined in the conversation? When they’d gone, the first thing you probably said to your friend was:  “Who was that?”

The answer might have been interesting, but the fact remains, the person was probably unimportant to you. The really important information about someone else is that which we get as a result of a relationship. And, of course, only somebody with whom we’re in relationship, can let us know who we really are to them, and therefore what we might be to other people as well.

Most of us try hard to present a good face to the world and in the main we probably do a pretty good job of hiding those bits about ourselves which make us feel ashamed. It’s fairly easy to do this with someone whom you don’t know very well, but it’s very difficult to disguise selfishness, greed, arrogance or pride from someone with whom you share a great deal of your life.  Those who are close to us will see us as we really are, and their opinions are important because they will contain truth which hasn’t been deceived.

People saw Jesus as all sorts of things. Some saw him as a prophet, some as a preacher and no doubt many people saw him just as a miracle worker. And all of these understandings were true. But the opinion that he really valued was the one which came from Simon Peter. Someone who knew him well, because they’d shared so much together. Jesus was sure about his own vocation, but it was important to him that those people with whom he was in close relationship should recognise something else in him; something which made him very special indeed.

We know from the gospels that the disciples must have talked about Jesus amongst themselves. They must have shared their experiences of him with each other. We all do this about anyone who’s an important person in our group. But it was at Caesarea Phillipi that all of this came together for Peter and convinced him that his master was the Messiah.  And as he was brought to this point so Jesus was able to see that this revelation to Peter was nothing less than the work of God.

And what happened to Peter must happen to us as well. People will sometimes tell you about quick and dramatic conversion experiences; but perhaps to be brought to the point where you can confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, needs a bit more than a quick burst of emotion. Perhaps it needs being in the company of other men and women who are often as confused as you are, and with whom you can share your doubts and your fears.

Perhaps it means watching what Jesus continues to do and teach through other people.

Perhaps it means being in a relationship with Jesus, for a fairly long period, even if you aren’t really able to explain or understand just how you can be in such a relationship.

 And perhaps it means accepting that our conversion is an on-going business, and that we shall grow more and more in faith as we journey on.

Perhaps it means all of these things, together with an understanding that we’re just like Peter.  We too, are on a journey. We can be brought to an acceptance of Jesus as Lord and we can then deny him and doubt him. But like Peter we’ll be restored and forgiven each time that we go back.

 If we’re honest we shall all admit that we pass through times of doubt and difficulty after we’ve accepted Jesus as Lord of the Universe. It’s not as though we believe and that’s that. Our journey will continue with many ups and downs. There will be times of glorious certainty, but there will also be times, perhaps long times, of doubt and almost of despair when we may feel tempted to give up. But it’s at those times when the seed of faith may well be growing most strongly inside of us without our awareness.

Confessing Jesus as Lord is indeed not the end. It’s rather ,the end of the beginning ; the beginning of a life whose beauty and fullness will only become crystal clear when we pass through the gate of death and know even as we are known.

May God give us all the grace to live in this faith.