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Vicar's Musings for Christ the king

24 November, 2013

There was an old hermit, very ascetical in body and holy in spirit, but somewhat unclear in his thoughts. This man went to see Abba John to ask him about forgetfulness. Having received a word of wisdom he returned to his cell. But on the way back he forgot what Abba John had told him. So he went back and got the same word. But, once again, on the way back to his cell, forgot it. This happened several times. He would listen to Abba John and, on his way back to the cell, would be overcome by forgetfulness.

Many days later he happened to meet Abba John and he said, "Do you know, Father, that I have once again forgotten what you told me? I would have come back again but I had been enough of a burden to you already and did not want to over burden you."

Abba John said to him, "Go and light a lamp." The old man lit the lamp. Then John said, "Bring in some more lamps and light them from the first one." This too the old man did. The Abba John said to the old man, "Did the first lamp suffer any loss from the fact that the other lamps were lit from it?" "No," said the old man. "Well, then, so it is with me. If not only you, but the whole town of Scetis were to come to me to seek help or advice I would not suffer the slightest loss. So come to me whenever you wish, without hesitation." Anthony de Mello, Prayer of the Frog, p. 199.

The Christian gospel is for sharing. We should never hide it, or be ashamed of it, or keep it from others. It has been given to us, but it is not for us. It is a lamp that can so easily give light to others if only we are willing. Why are we so often afraid to do this? Why do we act as if we must guard this precious lamp from others and outsiders? Today is the Annual General Meeting of our parish. We will consider ministry reports, our finances, the question of welcoming ordained women at the altar of St Peter's. In the plethora of parish business, however, I hope we will keep in mind the light of Christ that shines in our midst. This week has been a particularly busy one, but I took the time out to sit and pray alone in church. My eye was drawn to the sanctuary lamp, and the fragile flame that continually flickers as a reminder of the real presence of Christ in our midst. This is the reason for all that we do as a church. The risen Christ is a reality, a gift that has been given to us, but it is a gift that is for others. Thanks be to God.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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