And, and my how things have changed since my day, the visit to the midwife was with the new Vicar! Brett must have been excited for he even sent me a text to tell me!
Perhaps it sounded like a quaint throwback to a previous age? Just this week I re-read the following words from the diary of a certain Nehemiah Wallington: The tangible mercy of God. We may well ask, how tangible is the mercy of God in these days, at least for those of us who live at the top of the heap with regard to healthcare provision.
We might say, perhaps we should, that God has been Very Willing in this regard — that we live surrounded by the manifest Goodness of God in healthcare provision. Let us dare to assume that all that we have is the Gift of a gracious God who has had mercy on us, and not our own greedy acquisition. How our hearts should well with gratitude. Yet, so readily do we give praise and thanksgiving, but rather we are given to carp and complaint. Just the other evening I was sat with an old friend in conversation.
She was deeply upset about something — yet as we pondered together we realised that there we were, warm, exceedingly well fed, drinking an exceptionally fine wine — living lives of incomparable luxury, unimaginable even to our parents generation. And, more, where really was God in all of this?? And how for those at the other end — with lives of unimaginable suffering and toil, a simple smile, or courtesy would cause praise and thanksgiving to light up their lives.
Materially our lives are So full of light we might say, that we are blinded to it, seeing only the shadows Is not our problem finally that insofar as we think of God at all, it is impossible to comprehend God as The Prime Mover in all existence, when to our perception, the human and human agency seems to be all but everything As we have made life unbelievably secure in historic terms — albeit at a cost which I suggest we are only able to discern the extreme contours of — as we have barricaded ourselves against the contingencies of existence, God has become less and less present in our consciousness, but a faint note We must agree that it is most difficult for us to accept that God is at the centre of all things — we tend, even if we believe, to imagine that somehow we are at least equal partners.
How much of our so called Theological discourse uses this language of being equal partners with God. It is hard for us to stomach for our gaze is filled with what We have done. Human life is increasingly one devoid of the view of anything except that which we like to think of as our own making — even to the life of the unborn child.
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As Stanley Hauerwas puts it, almost of us are in practical terms atheists. Yet in some respects, this view is not new — human kind has long loved to stand back and admire the work of our hands. Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place.
It's suitable from birth, and has an easily removable layer system for fuss-free washing. Bill is a reference to William Shakespeare, with his mother being Mary Arden of Stratford and the rainstorm usually approaching from the south-westerly direction one of the main directions for incoming winds and storms to sweep into the UK from the Atlantic. Though there were niggly issues that just shouldn't have existed - the upstairs bedroom had no door on the bedroom, either at the top or bottom of the stairs so bang went any privacy!
Do not trust in these deceptive words: And so we are surrounded by signs of our own power and competence. Surely everyone stands as a mere breath. Surely everyone goes about like a shadow.
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; they heap up, and do not know who will gather. None of this has changed. He thinks that He will build a hose for God! It is only a small step to forgetting God altogether, as he does later when standing on the roof of his palace — above it all — and looks down to see his nemesis — Bathsheba.
He never intended for their to be a Temple, for he would build a Temple for himself. Sheer and Abundant Gift — the Word made flesh tabernacling amongst us — that we might become the dwelling place of God! And HIs Life erupt from us in praise and thanksgiving And so we spend our days, so busy for God, doing His work we tell ourselves. Blessed be the name of the LORD. We live in an age where the gulf between those who Bless the name of the LORD in and through all things — those who Understand the strange nature of all existence as Sheer gift — and those who whether in practise or in thought, curse God, is greater than ever.
The test is Always and everywhere Praise and Thanksgiving, for each and every day.
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