• image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image

President's reflection

Drawing back into a simple trust in God 

“…you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” Mt: 11:25.

Listening to National Church Leaders on our Zoom meeting last week reinforced my local experience, looking after All Saints Anglican Parish in Geelong. 

The persistent pandemic is stretching us emotionally and physically. 

People are working hard to try and sustain a continuity of life. One sees so much kindness and sympathy as well as signs of the stress spilling over. 

As one Church Leader said about his hard working pastors, lay and ordained: “The cracks are beginning to appear”... 

Spiritually, now aware of this locally and nationally, one is drawn back to a simple trust in God and those daily actions one can offer that might be most helpful. 

Reflecting on this in relation to Matthew 11, especially vs 25-30, I remembered some of those who have helped me follow Jesus, in good times and hard times. 

CAMEOS AS REGARDS A SIMPLE TRUST IN GOD:

Jesus words encourage a simple trust in God.

A childlike trust… “you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” Mt: 11:25.

*

Up in the Riverina where some of my cousins are, I heard of a bloke called Jim who came into the local Church each Sunday. He would go up the front and stand there a while. Then just leave. 

One day he was asked about this. Jim said, “I say ‘Hello Jesus, this is Jim.’  Jesus knows who I am and what I need.”

...A childlike trust.

*

Looking at a book this week, I read of a child who prayed: “God, knowing You is my concern; everything else is Your concern”

In this context, of deep significance in our current anxious time, we have Jesus' beautiful promise:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mt.11: 28-30.

*

When I was training, I visited an older lady. She said the name of Jesus with such love in her voice that I just knew she had a deep trust and knowing of the One she spoke of.

And I knew that was a much deeper trust and knowing than mine then. She did not know, in that moment, she was my teacher. Nor did she make a big deal about her faith. It just shaped who she was and all she did.

She taught me that a benign way to convey the Gospel was just by saying the name of Jesus with all the love and reverence in our hearts. People notice; especially if their subculture is one of thoughtless misuse of our Saviours name.

*

When I asked folk in a parish once about moments and people of grace, a man, originally from India told me how his conversion to Christianity was because of the humble, pure love he saw in his wife.

Not just to him, but as a teacher, her yearning and devotion towards seeing her students flourish in their subjects and in their character as Godly citizens.

*

During the week, I had another International Zoom.

When I was at the UNFCCC COP25 on climate change in Madrid last December, I met many wonderful people. One was a Quaker woman called Lindsey who looks after the Quaker UN Office in Geneva and is engaged in all the detail of the negotiations towards a program to prevent global warming. She encourages us now to be visionary without fear and, in this context, to use words that give hope: “cherish; sacred…”

Jesus' words, vs 28-30, are rightly called the “Comforting Words” of Jesus. We hear them, in our Liturgy, as we prepare for the sacrament. They descend from our head to our heart as they are repeated, time after time. Their familiarity is comforting.

*

When I was at Williamstown Parish, there were lots of connections with the Sea Pilots.

I would take Holy Communion to old Captain Molyneux, a Master Mariner. From his years at sea and his persistent devotion, he had memorised the Service in the Book of Common Prayer. It was all in his heart.

Captain Molyneux is another who taught me by his simple trust in God, expressed in devotional practice. Taking account of Jesus words in this Gospel, nowadays, as I am sure is true for other adults, I try to look at the world through the eyes of little children. What I focus on aims to help make a better world for God’s “little people”, including our grandchildren.

What we can do is limited, of course, but, as Gandhi said: “The problems are huge. What we can do may seem insignificant. Nevertheless, it is essential that we do it!!”

So, with a simple trust in God, we do what we can.

*

One more story, as we pray for the Church in Pakistan.

I was with its Bishop Humphrey Peters at the UN Review of Pakistan’s Human Rights record in Geneva. What is called “the Universal Periodic Review”. (I had been in Pakistan earlier on a Pastoral visit with the Christian Conference of Asia).

Bishop Humphrey and I exchanged hats. Somewhere in N Pakistan there is a Geelong beanie, perhaps still on + Humphrey’s head.

With the hat I received came a story from the recent time of Taliban troubles. One day a Taliban Military leader was brought to a Hospital run by the Church in Pakistan, up near the Afghanistan border. Injured, he had no alternative. He was admitted and immediately began to complain about the Cross in his hospital room.

“That has to go! I can’t stay in a room with that!”

“Sorry sir. We want to look after you. We will care for you as best we can. That Cross is who we are as a Christian Hospital. It needs to stay...”

The Taliban man was too crook to argue… Days went by... He received good care and slowly recovered. People had time with each other.

Whatever may have been the negative stereotypes with which they started, normal life broke out! Warmth, friendly banter together, a more relaxed atmosphere. In time, with good medical care, the Military Leader recovered.

The day he left, he conveyed a sobering message: “Your hospital was on our list to be destroyed, you all as well.... I have had you taken off the list"....

Little did the nurses and doctors know what might have happened had they reacted to their unexpected visitor in fear or hostility. Little did they know what they were preventing, as they did their work lovingly and capably, firm in their faith.

I don’t know the story from there. Whether there was a sustained change for all involved. How the Hospital is now? The Taliban leader?

+ Humphrey’s hat in the back of my car just reminds me to keep doing what I can “to make gentle our bruised world”, with a simple trust in God’s providence and presence.

Blessings, +Philip. 

 

Bishop Philip Huggins,

NCCA President

 

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio