Go back to normal view

 

Daily Message
September 2021

1 September 2021 Rector’s Reflections Wednesday 1st September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at some of the different ways in which people try to describe or imagine God. Although we often use words to try and describe God, we are not limited to words. Yesterday, we looked at how some people might try to describe God in terms of mathematical equation.

Today, we’re going to look at another non-verbal way of describing God. Some people try to describe God not in terms of words or logical reasoning, but in terms of feelings and emotions. How does God make us feel? How might our feelings tell us something about God? Our emotions and feelings are certainly one source of information about the world around us, although they need to be interpreted with care. I wonder if you’ve ever had a “gut feeling” that something was n’t quite right? Or perhaps come into a room or a meeting and been immediately sensed “the atmosphere”? In recent years, increasing attention has been given to what has been called “emotional intelligence” : that intelligence which seeks to be aware of our emotions, and the emotions of those around us.

So might we be able to use our emotions and feelings to explore the nature of God? I think many people who believe in God would say that that there are times when God feels “present” to us, or when we feel “near to God”. Similarly, some people can have a “sense” of God’s presence in a special place, for example an ancient church building, or while worshipping God with others. We cannot see God’s presence; we have not reached the conclusion that God must be present as the result of a process of reasoning; and yet we feel that God is there. Again, some people feel “scared” of God, while others feel that God “loves” them. But as already mentioned, the feelings we might experience need to be interpreted with care. Our feelings are influenced by our habits and our culture, as well as purely physical factors, such as how tired we are or the food we have eaten. Feelings tell us something about ourselves, but they don’t necessarily tell us anything about anyone or anything else.
I wonder how God makes you feel? If it helps to use words, what three words would you use to describe how God makes you feel?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to be more aware of our feelings, and the feelings of others.
2 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Thursday 2nd September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve been looking at some of the different ways in which people try to describe or imagine God. Yesterday, we looked at the possibility of whether we can use our feelings and emotions in order to try and understand who or what God might be like.

When we think about our feelings and emotions we are reflecting on our own experience. But what might it be like to try and imagine our life and our world not from our own perspective, but from God’s perspective? Might it be possible to attempt a “God’s eye” view of the world?

One possible way to approach this is to imagine that God is the author of a play, in which we are the actors. Several questions arise from this analogy.

We might ask ourselves : how much of the play do we know? Are we like actors who have come onto the stage for one particular scene, not knowing much if anything about what has happened prior to our entrance onto the stage, and similarly not knowing what’s going to happen once we have left?

If we are the actors and God is the playwright, does God change the play in response to what we might say or do? Is it a play with several possible endings? Has God written the play in anticipation of the possibility that we might forget our dialogue and start to ad lib a bit? Is God happy with this?

And where is God during the performance? Is God sitting there in the stalls, letting us get on with things? Or is God on stage with us, as one of the actors?
And what sort of play do you think it would be? A tragedy? A thriller? A comedy?

And of course critics have often felt free to suggest improvements to what authors and playwrights have written. If we imagine we are acting in God’s play, are there any changes which you would like to suggest to the plot or the script so far? Or are you content to wait to see what happens next?

Prayer for Today

Lord, give us the courage and the imagination to try and see ourselves as others see us; and help us to be open to the possibility of seeing the world with fresh eyes. Amen.
3 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 3rd September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at some of the different ways in which we might try to describe or imagine God. Although they try to engage with God in very different ways, they all have this in common : they seek to make a positive statement about what God might be like. In other words, they seek to build up a picture of God by saying God is like this or like that. But is it possible to take a completely different approach, which seeks to explore God by saying that God is not like this or that?

This approach is sometimes called “negative theology” or “apophatic theology”. What might this approach look like in practice? It might simply be about denying the validity of a particular way of engaging with God. For example, we might talk about God as if God was a being or life form, like the life-forms which we encounter here on earth. Negative Theology would look at this and say that actually God is absolutely nothing like any being or life-form we know : God is unique and completely other, and so it would be more helpful to say “God is not a Being”, because God’s being is beyond anything we could possible understand.

Negative Theology can go well beyond this and say that actually every image and idea of God has to be rejected, and we human beings need to enter “the darkness that is beyond understanding” and seek to become wholly united with the Divine. This approach is sometimes called Mysticism, an approach to living the spiritual life which seeks union with the Divine.

I wonder what you think about “Negative Theology”? Is it helpful to engage with God by seeking to reject all those things which God is not, hoping that at the end of the journey of exploration we will behold God as God truly is? Or is this too pessimistic a view of the powers of human understanding? Might our minds, limited as they are, be sufficient to give us an insight into the reality of God which is “good enough”? After all, we don’t know everything about our friends and family; but the fact that our knowledge is imperfect is not usually an impediment to a meaningful relationship. Or is it different with God?

Prayer for Today

Lord, encourage us to keep on learning about ourselves and our world; and give us the humility to recognise the limits to our understanding. Amen.
4 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 3rd September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at some of the different ways in which we might try to describe or imagine God. Although they try to engage with God in very different ways, they all have this in common : they seek to make a positive statement about what God might be like. In other words, they seek to build up a picture of God by saying God is like this or like that. But is it possible to take a completely different approach, which seeks to explore God by saying that God is not like this or that?

This approach is sometimes called “negative theology” or “apophatic theology”. What might this approach look like in practice? It might simply be about denying the validity of a particular way of engaging with God. For example, we might talk about God as if God was a being or life form, like the life-forms which we encounter here on earth. Negative Theology would look at this and say that actually God is absolutely nothing like any being or life-form we know : God is unique and completely other, and so it would be more helpful to say “God is not a Being”, because God’s being is beyond anything we could possible understand.

Negative Theology can go well beyond this and say that actually every image and idea of God has to be rejected, and we human beings need to enter “the darkness that is beyond understanding” and seek to become wholly united with the Divine. This approach is sometimes called Mysticism, an approach to living the spiritual life which seeks union with the Divine.

I wonder what you think about “Negative Theology”? Is it helpful to engage with God by seeking to reject all those things which God is not, hoping that at the end of the journey of exploration we will behold God as God truly is? Or is this too pessimistic a view of the powers of human understanding? Might our minds, limited as they are, be sufficient to give us an insight into the reality of God which is “good enough”? After all, we don’t know everything about our friends and family; but the fact that our knowledge is imperfect is not usually an impediment to a meaningful relationship. Or is it different with God?

Prayer for Today

Lord, encourage us to keep on learning about ourselves and our world; and give us the humility to recognise the limits to our understanding. Amen.
5 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 3rd September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at some of the different ways in which we might try to describe or imagine God. Although they try to engage with God in very different ways, they all have this in common : they seek to make a positive statement about what God might be like. In other words, they seek to build up a picture of God by saying God is like this or like that. But is it possible to take a completely different approach, which seeks to explore God by saying that God is not like this or that?

This approach is sometimes called “negative theology” or “apophatic theology”. What might this approach look like in practice? It might simply be about denying the validity of a particular way of engaging with God. For example, we might talk about God as if God was a being or life form, like the life-forms which we encounter here on earth. Negative Theology would look at this and say that actually God is absolutely nothing like any being or life-form we know : God is unique and completely other, and so it would be more helpful to say “God is not a Being”, because God’s being is beyond anything we could possible understand.

Negative Theology can go well beyond this and say that actually every image and idea of God has to be rejected, and we human beings need to enter “the darkness that is beyond understanding” and seek to become wholly united with the Divine. This approach is sometimes called Mysticism, an approach to living the spiritual life which seeks union with the Divine.

I wonder what you think about “Negative Theology”? Is it helpful to engage with God by seeking to reject all those things which God is not, hoping that at the end of the journey of exploration we will behold God as God truly is? Or is this too pessimistic a view of the powers of human understanding? Might our minds, limited as they are, be sufficient to give us an insight into the reality of God which is “good enough”? After all, we don’t know everything about our friends and family; but the fact that our knowledge is imperfect is not usually an impediment to a meaningful relationship. Or is it different with God?

Prayer for Today

Lord, encourage us to keep on learning about ourselves and our world; and give us the humility to recognise the limits to our understanding. Amen.
6 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Monday 6th September 2021

Thought for the Day

Last week we looked at some different ways in which people have tried to describe or imagine God. This topic is a perennial one : we could have a conversation with our ancestors about the challenge of engaging with God, and they would probably share questions and approaches very similar to our own.

This week I thought I would share a series of reflections on a very different sort of topic, a topic which is currently of relevance within the Church of England. Whether people will still be debating it next year and in the years ahead is anyone’s guess.

So what is the topic in question? Basically, it’s the future of the parish system, in the sense of keeping the tradition of having a network of parish churches serving their local communities. I’m going to look at the debate from the perspective of small rural churches, as this is the perspective with which I am most familiar.

I’m going to start with a few of the reasons why some people say that we need to move on from the inherited pattern of 1000s of small rural churches. One argument is about resources : with smaller congregations, there simply is n’t the money to keep all these churches going. Other organisations, such as banks, have shut many of their local branches, and the Church should do the same. Another argument is that nowadays, place does n’t matter as much as it used to : people can pop into their car to attend Church in another village or town, or worship online. Another argument is that the Church of England needs to be re-imagine itself , moving from “keeping the show on the road”, to intentional, Evangelistic effort. We should be making new Christians, and teaching them about being followers of Jesus; we should n’t be spending our time maintaining ancient buildings, where a handful of people come once a week to say their prayers and sing traditional hymns.

However, there are plenty of arguments on the other side of the debate, and we shall we looking at some of these in the week ahead!

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to value the treasures of the past, but also to be open to the possibilities of the future. Amen.

7 September 2021 Rector’s Reflections Tuesday 7th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at some of the arguments for and against the continuation of the traditional parish church system within the Church of England. Yesterday I mentioned a few of the arguments which lead some people to argue that the parish system should be brought to an end. Today, and in the days ahead, I want to mention some of the reasons why there are also people who argue the opposite case : that the current parish system is a great strength of the Church, and it should most definitely be retained.

However, I want to make three quick points before I continue. The first is to reassure you : the Diocese of Oxford is not about to get rid of parishes and parish churches! It’s not currently on the agenda for our Diocese; although there are other Dioceses where the future of the parish system is an open question. The second point is that you may have come across a movement called “Save the Parish” (see https://savetheparish.com) ; I am not affiliated to this movement, and the comments I make are simply my own thoughts. The third is that I recognise that it is very hard, perhaps humanly impossible, to keep the current parish system going across the country; it will need to evolve and adapt, if it is to survive.

So why might some people argue that the parish system should be retained? One argument is that the parish system recognises the importance of place in our lives. Where we live matters : it is part of our identity. As human beings, we live in a particular place ( or sometimes a couple of places!). The parish system makes three key points : places matter; every place is different, with its unique buildings, people and stories; and every place has its value. If you get rid of the parish system, you are disenfranchising those communities who have had their church closed, and favouring the community which has been permitted to keep its church open. It might be an efficient way of going about things, but is it pleasing to God? God loves each and every community : the parish system recognises this theological truth, and tries to make this truth a reality on the ground. The parish system is a visual reminder that every community matters; it means that no community is to be written-off.

Prayer for Today

Lord, thank you for the places in which we live- for their landscapes, for their stories, and for the people who call them home. Amen.
8 September 2021 Rector’s Reflections Wednesday 8th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at a few of the reasons why some people still feel there is value in keeping the traditional parish system going. Yesterday, we looked at the importance of place : where we live matters, and the parish system celebrates the places where we live, in all their variety.

Today I’m going to write about another reason to keep the parish system, a reason which is all about the sort of structures which can facilitate good decision making in the Church.

The parish system might be traditional and at times somewhat cumbersome, but it is arguable that it works to facilitate good decision making in the Church. Why might this be? To start with, it increases the number of people who are involved in making the decision : the more people involved, the more voices are heard, and the greater the amount of experience and wisdom which is brought to bear on the topic in question. Of course it can be quicker and simpler to delegate decision making to the experts at Head Office; but the experts will not represent all points of view, and experts can be wrong.

The experts at Head Office will also have fairly little sense of the current reality at the local level : they will tend to assume that they know what the problems are, as well as to assume what the correct solutions should look like. This is very different from those who are working at the parish level : people working at this level know what’s actually happening on the ground, and have the information to know what will work in their particular context.

Finally, people working at the parish level have to base their decision making on the reality of living out their Christian faith within the context of their local Christian community. In other words, there is the strongest possible link between the process of making the decision and the reality of living as Christians in the company of other Christians, as well as in the company of non-Christians who are friends and neighbours. Decisions taken at Head Office do not naturally have this link : the decision is largely a managerial function of being part of a larger organisation with its own set of priorities.

Prayer for Today

Lord, give us a willingness to listen to the voices of others, and the humility to accept that our own judgment is not always infallible. Amen.
9 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Thursday 9th September 2021

Thought for the Day

This week we’ve been looking at a few of the reasons why some people think that the traditional parish system should be retained. The parish system keeps the Church rooted in each local community, and it ensures that decision making involves the experience and wisdom of a rich variety of church goers.

It is also a powerful antidote against idolatry. What do I mean by this?

Idolatry is about the worship of a false God. It takes a variety of forms, and it is a perennial problem in religious life and practice. Within the Church, Christians are meant to worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, a God who is fully revealed to us in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, who himself was both God Incarnate and a human being. In other words, the Church is about worshipping God in Christ, and being faithful to him. This is the theory; but the reality can be very different. The Church can very easily end up worshipping other Gods : the God of Worldly Success; the God of Money; the God of Big Congregations; the God of Power; the God of Prestige. This can be a particular problem for a State Church such as the Church of England, which brings with a history full of power, wealth and privilege.

The parish system is an antidote to the worship of these false Gods. If you go along to a typical rural Church, you will find a small and fairly democratic community trying to keep things going on a shoe string, where making ends meet is a continual challenge. No one is a typical rural church us likely to say “Look how wonderful we are! Look how many people are coming to our Church! Look how successful we are!”

Small rural churches are about trying the best to be faithful to God, with the available resources, in a particular time and place. It is a humble form of Church, and this humility keeps us focused on God’s grace. It is a form of Church life which almost forces you to believe in the reality, power and goodness of God. Small rural Churches know that Church life is n’t about Big Congregations and Success. It’s about God : God at work in our lives and God at work in our communities. “Success” is neither here nor there.

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to be honest about the motives which drive our actions, and help us to rid ourselves of those motives which are not pleasing to you. Amen.
10 September 2021 Rector’s Reflections Friday 10th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at a few of the reasons why some people feel that we should keep the traditional parish system. Keeping the parish system going is a challenge and often a burden, but it ensures that no community is written off. It allows a very wide range of people to have a meaningful say in the life of the Church, and it focuses attention on the what is most important in our Christian lives : prayer, worship and the service of our communities. It probably makes little economic sense, and it is not a formula for worldly success. But worldly success is neither here nor there; what matters is trying to be faithful to God .

There is another reason why some people argue that the parish system needs to be kept in place. Most parishes have a physical church building at their heart. This building might be old or relatively new; it might be a building of great beauty or frankly a bit of an eyesore. But whatever the building looks like, it is a building which is there for everyone in the parish. And it is a building made holy through the prayers of all who have worshipped there over the years. It is a building full of the memories of countless baptisms, marriages and funeral. It might well house a war memorial, recording the names of those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our nation.

Our parish churches are buildings which draw people closer to God. Our church buildings help God to communicate with us in ways which we can understand. I think God often speaks to us through the sense of peace which we can experience as we sit on a pew, or on a bench in the churchyard. We sense that this building, and its surroundings, is different from the other buildings in our community. It is a place set aside for an encounter with God.

Of course, in theory we don’t need the parish system in order to retain our rich heritage of church buildings. But let’s be realistic : are many of our buildings likely to survive the dismantling of the parish system? I think not. It’s the parish system which keeps the buildings going.

Prayer for Today

Lord, we thank you for our church buildings, and for all who help to maintain them; help us to value our buildings, and seek fresh ways in which they be assets for the whole community. Amen.
11 September 2021 Rector’s Reflections Friday 10th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at a few of the reasons why some people feel that we should keep the traditional parish system. Keeping the parish system going is a challenge and often a burden, but it ensures that no community is written off. It allows a very wide range of people to have a meaningful say in the life of the Church, and it focuses attention on the what is most important in our Christian lives : prayer, worship and the service of our communities. It probably makes little economic sense, and it is not a formula for worldly success. But worldly success is neither here nor there; what matters is trying to be faithful to God .

There is another reason why some people argue that the parish system needs to be kept in place. Most parishes have a physical church building at their heart. This building might be old or relatively new; it might be a building of great beauty or frankly a bit of an eyesore. But whatever the building looks like, it is a building which is there for everyone in the parish. And it is a building made holy through the prayers of all who have worshipped there over the years. It is a building full of the memories of countless baptisms, marriages and funeral. It might well house a war memorial, recording the names of those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our nation.

Our parish churches are buildings which draw people closer to God. Our church buildings help God to communicate with us in ways which we can understand. I think God often speaks to us through the sense of peace which we can experience as we sit on a pew, or on a bench in the churchyard. We sense that this building, and its surroundings, is different from the other buildings in our community. It is a place set aside for an encounter with God.

Of course, in theory we don’t need the parish system in order to retain our rich heritage of church buildings. But let’s be realistic : are many of our buildings likely to survive the dismantling of the parish system? I think not. It’s the parish system which keeps the buildings going.

Prayer for Today

Lord, we thank you for our church buildings, and for all who help to maintain them; help us to value our buildings, and seek fresh ways in which they be assets for the whole community. Amen.
12 September 2021 Rector’s Reflections Friday 10th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been looking at a few of the reasons why some people feel that we should keep the traditional parish system. Keeping the parish system going is a challenge and often a burden, but it ensures that no community is written off. It allows a very wide range of people to have a meaningful say in the life of the Church, and it focuses attention on the what is most important in our Christian lives : prayer, worship and the service of our communities. It probably makes little economic sense, and it is not a formula for worldly success. But worldly success is neither here nor there; what matters is trying to be faithful to God .

There is another reason why some people argue that the parish system needs to be kept in place. Most parishes have a physical church building at their heart. This building might be old or relatively new; it might be a building of great beauty or frankly a bit of an eyesore. But whatever the building looks like, it is a building which is there for everyone in the parish. And it is a building made holy through the prayers of all who have worshipped there over the years. It is a building full of the memories of countless baptisms, marriages and funeral. It might well house a war memorial, recording the names of those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our nation.

Our parish churches are buildings which draw people closer to God. Our church buildings help God to communicate with us in ways which we can understand. I think God often speaks to us through the sense of peace which we can experience as we sit on a pew, or on a bench in the churchyard. We sense that this building, and its surroundings, is different from the other buildings in our community. It is a place set aside for an encounter with God.

Of course, in theory we don’t need the parish system in order to retain our rich heritage of church buildings. But let’s be realistic : are many of our buildings likely to survive the dismantling of the parish system? I think not. It’s the parish system which keeps the buildings going.

Prayer for Today

Lord, we thank you for our church buildings, and for all who help to maintain them; help us to value our buildings, and seek fresh ways in which they be assets for the whole community. Amen.
13 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Monday 13th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week I thought I would share some reflections on what the Bible might have to say to us about God. This is a huge topic, and I can do no more than scratch the surface. I’m going to look at one particular text from the Old Testament : Psalm 68. The psalms were poems used in prayer and worship in Old Testament times. We don’t know who wrote Psalm 68 or when it was written, but its inclusion among the official collection of Psalms shows that the Jewish people found it to be of help in their prayer and worship. I’ve chosen Psalm 68 because it is a fascinating psalm, which raises some interesting questions about God. It is also not quite so familiar as some of the other psalms, such as Psalm 23.

But let me start with a few key points about the Bible. The first is that the Bible is not one book : it’s a library of many different types of book, written over the course of a thousand years. Secondly, there is always room for debate over the interpretation of the Bible, whether we’re looking at a particular passage from one of its books, or at the Bible as a whole. Thirdly, both Jews and Christians have felt that the Bible is n’t just an ordinary collection of books. Both Jews and Christians have believed that God speaks to us in and through the Bible, and we can use the Bible to grow deeper in our understanding of who God is, what he has done in the past, and what he will do in the future.

How does God speak to us in and through the Bible? There is no one way to engage with the Bible : there are a multitude of approaches, and each approach has its own validity. Some people say that the Church should have control over the interpretation of the Bible, ruling out interpretations which are considered to be wrong or harmful; but others disagree, arguing that the individual believer should be trusted to interpret the Bible for themselves. Some Churches can have a tendency to look to the Biblical scholars to provide a definitive interpretation ; but the scholars often disagree among themselves!
I wonder what you will think of Psalm 68 , as we look at this text in the days ahead?

Prayer for Today

Lord, we thank you for the Bible, in all its rich variety; help us to engage with it in ways which draw us nearer to the truth about you, and about ourselves.
14 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections 14th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week I’m sharing a few reflections about what Psalm 68 might have to say to us about God. It’s a fascinating psalm, which provides plenty of food for thought.

The first verses of the psalm talk about God’s enemies. The psalmist prays that God’s enemies may be scattered, and a little later he hopes that the “ wicked perish before God”. He contrasts the fate of the wicked with that of the righteous, who are to be joyful and exult before God.

These words raise some challenging questions. Should we see God as having enemies, or should we see him as loving and forgiving everyone alike? If we accept that God might have enemies, what do these enemies look like and why are they to be considered to be his enemies? Do some people deliberately choose to become enemies of God?

The psalmist seems to suggest that God’s enemies are to be identified with “the wicked”. God himself is considered to be Absolute Goodness, and God wants human beings to share in his moral perfection. In the language of the psalm, this moral perfection is referred to as righteousness : hence “righteous” human beings are to be jubilant with joy, because their lives reflect the righteousness of God. But there is no rejoicing for the wicked : they will perish before God, “as wax melts before the fire”.

Are you happy with this idea? Are the wicked simply getting what is coming to them for their evil deeds? Or is God being too harsh? Many Christians down the centuries have associated God with the idea of judgment : at some future date, God will judge us all. Some people have been unhappy with this idea of God as Judge.

I wonder what you think : can you picture God punishing his enemies, or is this too barbaric and too simplistic a concept? Might it be that God’s enemies end up punishing themselves, by missing out on the blessing that would be theirs if they were to live their lives in accordance with God’s commandments?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to live our lives in ways which are pleasing to you, loving you and our neighbour with all our heart and mind and strength. Amen.
15 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Wednesday 15th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at Psalm 68, and seeing what this Old Testament text might have to say to us about God. Yesterday, we looked at the question of whether it is acceptable to think of God having his “enemies”, and the idea that God might judge us according to how we have behaved in our life.

Interestingly, the author of the psalm almost immediately moves on to a much more comforting picture of God. In verse 6, he writes of God as the “father of orphans and protector of widows”, and he goes to write that God “gives the desolate a home to live in”, and that “he leads out the prisoner to prosperity”.

In other words, God is a God of compassion, as well as a God of judgment, and he shows his compassion especially to those who are most needy and most vulnerable in society. This belief is central to Old Testament teaching about God, and it has become central to what many Christians have believed down the centuries.

I wonder what you think about this view of God? Would you agree that God is a God of compassion? What might this mean in practice, in the nitty gritty of a particular situation? Does God’s compassion extend equally to all people at all times, or does he have his favourites?

The belief that God is a God of compassion is certainly a source of great comfort. But just because it is comforting does not mean that the belief is itself true or self-evident. Some people look around the world, and see all the suffering there is, and find the existence of so much suffering quite incompatible with the idea that God cares for his world. Others might find it impossible to ascribe any emotions to God : God does n’t have a physical body or a nervous system, so how is it possible for him to feel anything at all? But others feel that it makes sense to ascribe emotions to God, and they are confident that God does indeed care for us.

I wonder what you think : do you think God can be said to be a God of compassion? Or is this simply wishful thinking?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to be compassionate towards one another, and to be compassionate towards ourselves. Amen.

16 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Thursday 16th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at some thoughts about God , which are prompted by a reading of Psalm 68. Yesterday we looked at the idea that God is a God of compassion : a God who cares for human beings, especially those who are most vulnerable. This idea is related to another idea about God, which I will look at today.

In common with many other Old Testament writers, the author of Psalm 68 was convinced that God acts in human history in order to bring about his purposes. An important section of psalm 68 refers to various events in the history of the Jewish people, when God “ went out before [his] people”, when he “restored [his] heritage when it languished “, and when he “scattered kings”. Later in the psalm, the author looks to the future, asking God once again to “show [his] strength… as [he] has done for us before”.

I wonder what you think about the idea of God acting in human history? Some people find this idea quite logical : if God cares for human beings, it is entirely logical to expect that he will act in human history in order to bring blessing to our world. If God is not prepared or is unable to enter into human time, this limits his love and care for us to a realm outside time altogether- a realm we might call Heaven. But what’s the good of a God who limits his blessing to a future blessing to be enjoyed after we die? Why would a loving God do this?

Other people would say that Historical Science has come of age, and serious historians nowadays simply would n’t dream of trying to explain the pattern of historical events by reference to an unprovable being (God) who , if he exists, exists quite outside the limits of space and time. Furthermore, if you propose that God caused such and such an event, how can you possibly prove such a proposition? An answer to this would be to say that would try to prove it in just the same way as you would try to prove any other hypothesis; and furthermore, it is quite conceivable that when God acts in history , he does so through the thoughts and actions of ordinary human beings.

I wonder what you think? Might God act in history, or have we outgrown this idea?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to see where you might be at work, in our lives and our world.
17 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 17th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been reflecting on Psalm 68, and looking at what it has to say about the nature of God, and what God does. The psalmist is convinced that God is a God of compassion, and that God can be seen to act in human history.

The psalmist is also convinced that God can be physically present in a particular place. The psalmist seems to point to Jerusalem as the “mount that God desired for his abode”, the place “where the Lord will reside forever”. The Old Testament is full of references to the idea that God is present in Jerusalem, and especially in the Temple.

I wonder what you think of the idea that God can be physically present in a particular location? Some people would say that God is, by definition, able to do anything, so he must have the ability to locate himself in a particular place and time, if he should wish to do so. It is common for human beings to regard particular locations or buildings as “holy” – places where God feels close to us. Where does this sense of “holiness” come from? Might it not be an experience of the reality of God’s presence in a particular place or building? I think many people do feel a sense of the presence of God on at least some occasion in their lives.

Other people find it hard to accept that God can be “present” in a particular place at a particular point in time. God is omnipresent throughout the Universe, and beyond; so how can he be said to be present in a particular place if in fact he is present everywhere? And how can we detect the presence of God? Is there a sort of God detection machine, a bit like a Geiger Counter, which will beep excitedly if God is present in a particular spot? And is it all a matter of what the observer wants to believe : in other words, if we consciously or subconsciously wish to find God in a particular place, we will say “Look, God is here!”. But thus does n’t mean that he actually is!

So is the idea of the “presence” of God no more than a poetic phrase to describe how we might feel about a particular place or building? Or is it more than that? Might God actually be present? I wonder what you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to seek you, with all our hearts and minds and strength. Amen.
18 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 17th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been reflecting on Psalm 68, and looking at what it has to say about the nature of God, and what God does. The psalmist is convinced that God is a God of compassion, and that God can be seen to act in human history.

The psalmist is also convinced that God can be physically present in a particular place. The psalmist seems to point to Jerusalem as the “mount that God desired for his abode”, the place “where the Lord will reside forever”. The Old Testament is full of references to the idea that God is present in Jerusalem, and especially in the Temple.

I wonder what you think of the idea that God can be physically present in a particular location? Some people would say that God is, by definition, able to do anything, so he must have the ability to locate himself in a particular place and time, if he should wish to do so. It is common for human beings to regard particular locations or buildings as “holy” – places where God feels close to us. Where does this sense of “holiness” come from? Might it not be an experience of the reality of God’s presence in a particular place or building? I think many people do feel a sense of the presence of God on at least some occasion in their lives.

Other people find it hard to accept that God can be “present” in a particular place at a particular point in time. God is omnipresent throughout the Universe, and beyond; so how can he be said to be present in a particular place if in fact he is present everywhere? And how can we detect the presence of God? Is there a sort of God detection machine, a bit like a Geiger Counter, which will beep excitedly if God is present in a particular spot? And is it all a matter of what the observer wants to believe : in other words, if we consciously or subconsciously wish to find God in a particular place, we will say “Look, God is here!”. But thus does n’t mean that he actually is!

So is the idea of the “presence” of God no more than a poetic phrase to describe how we might feel about a particular place or building? Or is it more than that? Might God actually be present? I wonder what you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to seek you, with all our hearts and minds and strength. Amen.
19 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 17th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been reflecting on Psalm 68, and looking at what it has to say about the nature of God, and what God does. The psalmist is convinced that God is a God of compassion, and that God can be seen to act in human history.

The psalmist is also convinced that God can be physically present in a particular place. The psalmist seems to point to Jerusalem as the “mount that God desired for his abode”, the place “where the Lord will reside forever”. The Old Testament is full of references to the idea that God is present in Jerusalem, and especially in the Temple.

I wonder what you think of the idea that God can be physically present in a particular location? Some people would say that God is, by definition, able to do anything, so he must have the ability to locate himself in a particular place and time, if he should wish to do so. It is common for human beings to regard particular locations or buildings as “holy” – places where God feels close to us. Where does this sense of “holiness” come from? Might it not be an experience of the reality of God’s presence in a particular place or building? I think many people do feel a sense of the presence of God on at least some occasion in their lives.

Other people find it hard to accept that God can be “present” in a particular place at a particular point in time. God is omnipresent throughout the Universe, and beyond; so how can he be said to be present in a particular place if in fact he is present everywhere? And how can we detect the presence of God? Is there a sort of God detection machine, a bit like a Geiger Counter, which will beep excitedly if God is present in a particular spot? And is it all a matter of what the observer wants to believe : in other words, if we consciously or subconsciously wish to find God in a particular place, we will say “Look, God is here!”. But thus does n’t mean that he actually is!

So is the idea of the “presence” of God no more than a poetic phrase to describe how we might feel about a particular place or building? Or is it more than that? Might God actually be present? I wonder what you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to seek you, with all our hearts and minds and strength. Amen.
20 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Monday 20th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week I’m starting a new series of reflections, which follows on from the subject of the last few weeks.

In the last few weeks, I have been sharing some thoughts on how we might describe or engage with God. I started with comment that broadly speaking, people tend to fall into one of three camps when it comes to engaging with the idea of God: some people think that God definitely does n’t exist (the atheists); some people are n’t sure (the agnostics); and some people think that God does indeed exist (the theists). Logically, it is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of God, so the existence of God is the nature of a hypothesis. We have looked at some of the reasons why many people believe that God does indeed exist.

We then looked at what the Old Testament might have to say to us about the existence and nature of God. We focussed our attention on Psalm 68, and saw that the psalmist envisaged God as a God of compassion, who intervenes in human history, and who can make himself “present” in particular places at particular times.

So we’ve looked at the God of the Philosophers, and the God of Old Testament. It’s now time to look at what the life and teaching of Jesus Christ might have to say to us about the nature and work of God. In other words, what does the New Testament have to say to us about God?

I wonder how you would answer this question? Jesus himself was a faithful Jew, steeped in the writings we know as the Old Testament, so we might well expect the New Testament to affirm everything which the Old Testament teaches about God. But Jesus was also capable to challenging the religious beliefs and practices of his day. Moreover, Christians have traditionally believed that Jesus himself was not merely a human being : he was also God . So how does the God of the New Testament relate to the God of the Philosophers and the God of the Old Testament? We will begin to explore this question in the days ahead!

Prayer for Today

Lord, help and guide as we seek to discover more about you, and help us to be open to new understandings and fresh insights. Amen.
21 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Tuesday 21st September 2021

Thought for the Day

This week I’m sharing a few reflections about what Jesus might have to say to us about the nature and activity of God. Does Jesus teach us to believe in a God very different from the God of the Old Testament? Would Jesus recognise the sort of God discussed by philosophers?

This is a huge topic and I’m going to focus on one part of the New Testament : the Sermon on the Mount. This is found in Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5 to 7. So if we read the Sermon on the Mount, what does Jesus seem to saying about God?

Perhaps the starting point is Jesus’ belief that the goodness of God extends to absolutely everyone : in short, God loves everyone. In fact, God’s love is so all encompassing that he even loves people who live immoral lives. In verse 45 of chapter 5, Jesus proclaims that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain upon the righteous and on the unrighteousness”. Because God cares for everyone, Jesus gives us the following instruction : “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This is challenging teaching indeed!

I wonder what you think of this view of God? You might find it comforting, in that it means that God loves sinners, and I think most of us have the self-knowledge to accept that we are indeed sinners. Each one of us has our faults and our failings, but God loves us anyway – this is good news indeed! On the other hand, does this compromise God’s moral integrity? Is it fair that God’s love extends to people who do bad things, and to people who deny his existence? Can we cope with a love so extensive and so inclusive?

Two further questions arise. The first is this : if God loves everyone, regardless of their behaviour or their attitude, why does God choose to do this? What are your thoughts? And there’s a second question : what does it mean for God to love everyone? Jesus provides us with some answers to this second question, and we will look at these in the days ahead.

Prayer for Today

Lord, challenge our prejudices and give us the courage to be open to the breadth of your love. Amen.
22 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Wednesday 22nd September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we are looking at some of Jesus’ thoughts about God. We’re looking in particular at Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew’s Gospel. Yesterday, we saw how Jesus taught that God cares for absolutely everyone, for sinners as well as for the righteous. I wonder if you think that this seems rather hard on the righteous? After all, if God cares for you whenever or not you try to live in accordance with God’s commandments, why bother being virtuous?

One response to this question is to point to another aspect of Jesus’ teaching about God : the idea that God will reward those who seek his approval.

In chapter 6 of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to those who will receive a “reward” from God. In this section of the Sermon, Jesus does not seek to describe the nature of this “reward” in detail : he is content simply to affirm its existence. So while God loves and cares for everyone, sinners and the righteous alike, he chooses to “reward” the righteous. I wonder if you would agree with this idea?

Some people would say that this is how it ought to be : what is wrong with the idea that God provides a reward for “good behaviour”? It provides an incentive for us to try and live a life pleasing to him. The exact nature of the reward is perhaps neither here nor there, as we can trust God that he will provide the reward best suited for each individual, and that he will do so at the point in time which is most appropriate for us. Some of our reward might be enjoyed in this life; some of it might be stored up for the life of heaven.

But others might challenge the idea of God “rewarding” those of whom he approves. Why does God need to do this? Surely we should do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, and not because of any reward we might receive. And can we be sure that God does in fact “reward” the righteous? Many righteous acts seem to go completely unnoticed.

I wonder what you think : does God indeed “reward” the righteous?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help and guide us as we seek to lead our lives in ways that are pleasing to you. Amen.
23 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Thursday 23rd September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount, to see what it have to say to us about Jesus’ teaching on the nature of God. We have seen how Jesus taught that God cares for everyone, sinners and righteous alike, but that he “rewards” those who try to follow his commandments.

The idea of “reward” suggests that God knows us individually : he knows who we are and what we have done. It seems that Jesus taught that God does indeed know each one of us. In chapter 6 of the Sermon, Jesus uses the language of “seeing” as well as the language of “knowing” : God “sees” us, and God “knows” what we need before we ask him, presumably because he is aware of who we are and the particular circumstances of our life.

Some find this a comforting doctrine, which flows logically from Jesus’ teaching that God cares for everyone. How could God care for everyone if he did not also know each one of us as individuals and understand our particular needs?

Others find the doctrine rather unsettling. Do we really want to believe in a God who sees absolutely everything that we get up to? And what does this say about God? Does it turn God into some sort of eternally vigilant school teacher? Surely God should trust us, and give us the freedom to get on with our own lives without his continuous supervision? How can we grow as human beings if God is continually looking over our shoulders?

Another interesting question concerns the nature of the language which we are using. God does not have a physical brain or physical eyes. So what does it mean to say that he “knows” and “sees”? Perhaps God is able to “know” and to “see” without having a brain or eyes, simply because he is God; or perhaps he does indeed have a brain and eyes, but these are very different from any brain or eyes which we might recognise. Or perhaps the language of God “knowing” and “seeing” is simply a poetic way of saying that he cares for us.

I wonder what you think : are you happy with the idea that God “knows” you and “sees” you?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to remember that your knowledge of us is never separated from your love for us, and give us the courage to approach you without fear. Amen
24 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 24th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve we looking at some of Jesus’s thoughts about the nature and activity of God. We’ve been looking at the Sermon on the Mount, and seen that Jesus taught that God cares for everyone equally, but “rewards” the righteous. We have also seen that Jesus taught that God can be said to “see” us and to “know” us.

Jesus also sometimes described God as “Father”, for example using the phrase “your heavenly Father” when talking to his followers. Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God has encouraged many Christians down the centuries to use the language of Fatherhood when offering their prayers to God : prayers often start “Heavenly Father, …….”, or sometimes “Father God ,……”

Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God raises at least two questions. (There are also questions relating to the doctrine of The Trinity, but I’ll leave these to another occasion!) First, what might Jesus have meant by referring to God as “Father”? It might be helpful to give some of the background to the use of the word “father” in Jesus’ time. In the Old Testament, “father” could mean fatherhood in a biological sense, but it could also be a term of respect for a figure whose life or teachings were considered to be authoritative. It could also be a way of saying that God cares for us as a father cares for their son. So Israel could be described as God’s “son”, not because of any biological fatherhood, but because God loved Israel as a human father loved his own son. Jesus seems to have experienced a particularly intimate relationship with God, a relationship characterised by profound love.

The second question is different: should we continue to use the word “Father” to describe God in our own time and culture? For some, this is n’t much of a question : Jesus used the word “father” to describe God, and so we should use it too. But does “father” suggest that only men matter, or that God is somehow male? Is it possible for God, who does not have a physical body, to have a gender at all? In our time and culture, would it better to talk about God as our “Mother and Father”, or “Our Loving Parent”? What do you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to the find the language we need to know who you really are, and to understand your role in our lives and our world. Amen.
25 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 24th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve we looking at some of Jesus’s thoughts about the nature and activity of God. We’ve been looking at the Sermon on the Mount, and seen that Jesus taught that God cares for everyone equally, but “rewards” the righteous. We have also seen that Jesus taught that God can be said to “see” us and to “know” us.

Jesus also sometimes described God as “Father”, for example using the phrase “your heavenly Father” when talking to his followers. Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God has encouraged many Christians down the centuries to use the language of Fatherhood when offering their prayers to God : prayers often start “Heavenly Father, …….”, or sometimes “Father God ,……”

Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God raises at least two questions. (There are also questions relating to the doctrine of The Trinity, but I’ll leave these to another occasion!) First, what might Jesus have meant by referring to God as “Father”? It might be helpful to give some of the background to the use of the word “father” in Jesus’ time. In the Old Testament, “father” could mean fatherhood in a biological sense, but it could also be a term of respect for a figure whose life or teachings were considered to be authoritative. It could also be a way of saying that God cares for us as a father cares for their son. So Israel could be described as God’s “son”, not because of any biological fatherhood, but because God loved Israel as a human father loved his own son. Jesus seems to have experienced a particularly intimate relationship with God, a relationship characterised by profound love.

The second question is different: should we continue to use the word “Father” to describe God in our own time and culture? For some, this is n’t much of a question : Jesus used the word “father” to describe God, and so we should use it too. But does “father” suggest that only men matter, or that God is somehow male? Is it possible for God, who does not have a physical body, to have a gender at all? In our time and culture, would it better to talk about God as our “Mother and Father”, or “Our Loving Parent”? What do you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to the find the language we need to know who you really are, and to understand your role in our lives and our world. Amen.
26 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 24th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve we looking at some of Jesus’s thoughts about the nature and activity of God. We’ve been looking at the Sermon on the Mount, and seen that Jesus taught that God cares for everyone equally, but “rewards” the righteous. We have also seen that Jesus taught that God can be said to “see” us and to “know” us.

Jesus also sometimes described God as “Father”, for example using the phrase “your heavenly Father” when talking to his followers. Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God has encouraged many Christians down the centuries to use the language of Fatherhood when offering their prayers to God : prayers often start “Heavenly Father, …….”, or sometimes “Father God ,……”

Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God raises at least two questions. (There are also questions relating to the doctrine of The Trinity, but I’ll leave these to another occasion!) First, what might Jesus have meant by referring to God as “Father”? It might be helpful to give some of the background to the use of the word “father” in Jesus’ time. In the Old Testament, “father” could mean fatherhood in a biological sense, but it could also be a term of respect for a figure whose life or teachings were considered to be authoritative. It could also be a way of saying that God cares for us as a father cares for their son. So Israel could be described as God’s “son”, not because of any biological fatherhood, but because God loved Israel as a human father loved his own son. Jesus seems to have experienced a particularly intimate relationship with God, a relationship characterised by profound love.

The second question is different: should we continue to use the word “Father” to describe God in our own time and culture? For some, this is n’t much of a question : Jesus used the word “father” to describe God, and so we should use it too. But does “father” suggest that only men matter, or that God is somehow male? Is it possible for God, who does not have a physical body, to have a gender at all? In our time and culture, would it better to talk about God as our “Mother and Father”, or “Our Loving Parent”? What do you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to the find the language we need to know who you really are, and to understand your role in our lives and our world. Amen.
27 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 24th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve we looking at some of Jesus’s thoughts about the nature and activity of God. We’ve been looking at the Sermon on the Mount, and seen that Jesus taught that God cares for everyone equally, but “rewards” the righteous. We have also seen that Jesus taught that God can be said to “see” us and to “know” us.

Jesus also sometimes described God as “Father”, for example using the phrase “your heavenly Father” when talking to his followers. Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God has encouraged many Christians down the centuries to use the language of Fatherhood when offering their prayers to God : prayers often start “Heavenly Father, …….”, or sometimes “Father God ,……”

Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God raises at least two questions. (There are also questions relating to the doctrine of The Trinity, but I’ll leave these to another occasion!) First, what might Jesus have meant by referring to God as “Father”? It might be helpful to give some of the background to the use of the word “father” in Jesus’ time. In the Old Testament, “father” could mean fatherhood in a biological sense, but it could also be a term of respect for a figure whose life or teachings were considered to be authoritative. It could also be a way of saying that God cares for us as a father cares for their son. So Israel could be described as God’s “son”, not because of any biological fatherhood, but because God loved Israel as a human father loved his own son. Jesus seems to have experienced a particularly intimate relationship with God, a relationship characterised by profound love.

The second question is different: should we continue to use the word “Father” to describe God in our own time and culture? For some, this is n’t much of a question : Jesus used the word “father” to describe God, and so we should use it too. But does “father” suggest that only men matter, or that God is somehow male? Is it possible for God, who does not have a physical body, to have a gender at all? In our time and culture, would it better to talk about God as our “Mother and Father”, or “Our Loving Parent”? What do you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to the find the language we need to know who you really are, and to understand your role in our lives and our world. Amen.
28 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 24th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve we looking at some of Jesus’s thoughts about the nature and activity of God. We’ve been looking at the Sermon on the Mount, and seen that Jesus taught that God cares for everyone equally, but “rewards” the righteous. We have also seen that Jesus taught that God can be said to “see” us and to “know” us.

Jesus also sometimes described God as “Father”, for example using the phrase “your heavenly Father” when talking to his followers. Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God has encouraged many Christians down the centuries to use the language of Fatherhood when offering their prayers to God : prayers often start “Heavenly Father, …….”, or sometimes “Father God ,……”

Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God raises at least two questions. (There are also questions relating to the doctrine of The Trinity, but I’ll leave these to another occasion!) First, what might Jesus have meant by referring to God as “Father”? It might be helpful to give some of the background to the use of the word “father” in Jesus’ time. In the Old Testament, “father” could mean fatherhood in a biological sense, but it could also be a term of respect for a figure whose life or teachings were considered to be authoritative. It could also be a way of saying that God cares for us as a father cares for their son. So Israel could be described as God’s “son”, not because of any biological fatherhood, but because God loved Israel as a human father loved his own son. Jesus seems to have experienced a particularly intimate relationship with God, a relationship characterised by profound love.

The second question is different: should we continue to use the word “Father” to describe God in our own time and culture? For some, this is n’t much of a question : Jesus used the word “father” to describe God, and so we should use it too. But does “father” suggest that only men matter, or that God is somehow male? Is it possible for God, who does not have a physical body, to have a gender at all? In our time and culture, would it better to talk about God as our “Mother and Father”, or “Our Loving Parent”? What do you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to the find the language we need to know who you really are, and to understand your role in our lives and our world. Amen.
29 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Friday 24th September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we’ve we looking at some of Jesus’s thoughts about the nature and activity of God. We’ve been looking at the Sermon on the Mount, and seen that Jesus taught that God cares for everyone equally, but “rewards” the righteous. We have also seen that Jesus taught that God can be said to “see” us and to “know” us.

Jesus also sometimes described God as “Father”, for example using the phrase “your heavenly Father” when talking to his followers. Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God has encouraged many Christians down the centuries to use the language of Fatherhood when offering their prayers to God : prayers often start “Heavenly Father, …….”, or sometimes “Father God ,……”

Jesus’ use of the word “Father” to describe God raises at least two questions. (There are also questions relating to the doctrine of The Trinity, but I’ll leave these to another occasion!) First, what might Jesus have meant by referring to God as “Father”? It might be helpful to give some of the background to the use of the word “father” in Jesus’ time. In the Old Testament, “father” could mean fatherhood in a biological sense, but it could also be a term of respect for a figure whose life or teachings were considered to be authoritative. It could also be a way of saying that God cares for us as a father cares for their son. So Israel could be described as God’s “son”, not because of any biological fatherhood, but because God loved Israel as a human father loved his own son. Jesus seems to have experienced a particularly intimate relationship with God, a relationship characterised by profound love.

The second question is different: should we continue to use the word “Father” to describe God in our own time and culture? For some, this is n’t much of a question : Jesus used the word “father” to describe God, and so we should use it too. But does “father” suggest that only men matter, or that God is somehow male? Is it possible for God, who does not have a physical body, to have a gender at all? In our time and culture, would it better to talk about God as our “Mother and Father”, or “Our Loving Parent”? What do you think?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to the find the language we need to know who you really are, and to understand your role in our lives and our world. Amen.
30 September 2021 Rector’s Daily Reflections Wednesday 22nd September 2021

Thought for Today

This week we are looking at some of Jesus’ thoughts about God. We’re looking in particular at Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew’s Gospel. Yesterday, we saw how Jesus taught that God cares for absolutely everyone, for sinners as well as for the righteous. I wonder if you think that this seems rather hard on the righteous? After all, if God cares for you whenever or not you try to live in accordance with God’s commandments, why bother being virtuous?

One response to this question is to point to another aspect of Jesus’ teaching about God : the idea that God will reward those who seek his approval.

In chapter 6 of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to those who will receive a “reward” from God. In this section of the Sermon, Jesus does not seek to describe the nature of this “reward” in detail : he is content simply to affirm its existence. So while God loves and cares for everyone, sinners and the righteous alike, he chooses to “reward” the righteous. I wonder if you would agree with this idea?

Some people would say that this is how it ought to be : what is wrong with the idea that God provides a reward for “good behaviour”? It provides an incentive for us to try and live a life pleasing to him. The exact nature of the reward is perhaps neither here nor there, as we can trust God that he will provide the reward best suited for each individual, and that he will do so at the point in time which is most appropriate for us. Some of our reward might be enjoyed in this life; some of it might be stored up for the life of heaven.

But others might challenge the idea of God “rewarding” those of whom he approves. Why does God need to do this? Surely we should do the right thing simply because it is the right thing, and not because of any reward we might receive. And can we be sure that God does in fact “reward” the righteous? Many righteous acts seem to go completely unnoticed.

I wonder what you think : does God indeed “reward” the righteous?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help and guide us as we seek to lead our lives in ways that are pleasing to you. Amen.