Monthly Archives: September 2020

27 September – The Resurrection of the living

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Pentecost 17

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Matthew 21:23-32

In a sentence
While we associate resurrection with ‘life after death’, its purpose in biblical narrative is the possibility of new life before death

Our reading from Ezekiel today is perhaps the best-known passage from the book. It is obviously a ‘resurrection’ text – which ought immediately to raise an alarm, for when the meaning of something in the Bible is ‘obvious’ it is highly likely that we are missing something.  So let’s look to the passage to see what might be less than obvious.

Ezekiel’s vision unfolds in a couple of steps. First, he sees the valley of bones, he addresses those bones as commanded, he hears the rattle of bones upon bones, and he sees them come together and life breathed into them.

At this stage we have what we might call a ‘nature’ miracle. Something about the usual order of things has been denied: order has been dragged from disorder, life returned to what was dead. The vision then – and it is only a vision – suggests that God is able to do this, to raise the dead to life.

It is helpful to note this ‘nature miracle’ dimension of the vision because it is typically claimed that God can do miraculous things like this. More than that, it is claimed God can disrupt the natural order in this way because God is creator of that order. Control over the world in this way springs from the fact that God created the world in the first place. These are less ‘interventions’, then, than they are re-creations, re-orderings of the chaotic world.

This is to say that creation occurs as much within time as it is the beginning or possibility of time. It is not ‘easier’ to raise the dead than it is to get the whole show on the road in the first place. The beginning of time, and a truly new beginning within time, are the same kind of thing. The distinction between creation and resurrection, then – as manifestations of sheer power – is not a distinction in God. Most succinctly, resurrection is creation.

Ezekiel’s vision moves past sheer creative power, however. To this point, the vision suggests that God can raise ‘the dead’, although we don’t know who the dead are. As is usual in relation to all the wacky things Ezekiel is commanded to do in his ministry, the meaning of his vision is now explained: the bones are not merely the remnants of the dead in general but are specifically Israel’s bones: the bones of ‘the whole house of Israel.’

This unsettles two things which might seem to be ‘obvious’ in the whole vision.

The first unsettling is that this apparent violation of natural law is also a violation of moral or divine law. Almost the whole of Ezekiel’s preaching to this point has had to do with the failure of Israel, and the justice of God’s condemnation and rejection of them. The power exercised here, then, is not merely a power to undo nature’s course by bringing life to the dead. It is the power to undo the effects of divine judgement itself. Not only natural law but God’s law is violated in this resurrection, which is much more interesting than the occasional miraculous conjuring trick.

The power of creation or re‑creative resurrection, then, is not the power to ‘make stuff’ or to re-make it. It is the power to forgive, to reconcile, to gather unto God even what – on account of its own failures – God has rejected. We might say it succinctly: with this God, to create is to reconcile and to reconcile is to create.

The second unsettling of the obvious to note here is that these are the bones of ‘the whole house of Israel’. What is strange here is that the house of Israel is not dead yet. Indeed, many have died – during the Babylonian conquest and before that – but Ezekiel’s ministry is not to those dead alone but – if at all – also to the living.

This is to say, then, that Ezekiel’s vision has to do with the resurrection of the living. Those who are still breathing are as if dead when they hear Ezekiel’s preaching. Death stands now not as the end of life but as a way of life. It is not a good way of life – and it is a way which God promises in these visions to ‘create us away from’ – but those who have died and those who still breathe stand before God as equally in need of God’s own life-giving Spirit. Or, to put it differently, there is before God no real distinction between the living and the dead, and their need. We tell ourselves that being alive is better than the alternative but this is not a joke God ‘gets’.

That joke hides from us something implicit in most of our resurrection-talk, and misleading: that the dead are lying around waiting to be raised to life, that they know they are dead. In fact, they are not ‘waiting’ for anything, for they are dead and the dead don’t do anything – wait or otherwise.

We might think that this is one point at which the living and the dead differ – that the living are hoping for something, waiting for something, working on something. Yet if, in Ezekiel’s terms, the living also are in need of resurrection, perhaps we might put less store in what we hope and wait and work for. It is not that these things do not matter; they will be the form, the shape, of our salvation. But the content or the substance of salvation – what it is to be free from fear and free for each other – is, as St Paul puts it,

‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived…                      (1 Corinthians 2.9, from Isaiah 64.4)

This is to say that what resurrection to life might be – even here and now – is not the answer to any question we might have. It is not the political utopia we dream of, not the return to normal post-virus we long for, not a pie-in-the-sky promise to distract us from our fear of dying.

What is promised here is something which will make the lives we live – as good and worthwhile as some of them might appear to be – seem like death. Our struggles for the good and the right, the clamour of our politics, the urgency of our prayers will seem like the mere rattle of bones on bones which cannot yet imagine that they are destined to breathe and laugh and dance.

The word to Israel then is God’s word to us:

O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord…
I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin,
and put breath in you, and you shall live;
and you shall know that I am the LORD.

…And the breath came into them,
and they lived,
and stood on their feet,
a vast multitude.                                  (Ezekiel 37.5,6,10)

Sunday Worship at MtE – 27 September 2020

The worship service for Sunday 27 September 2020 can be viewed by clicking on the image below. Other worship services can be found in the list below or at the MtE YouTube channel

MtE Update – September 25 2020

  1. The most recent Synod eNews (Sept 24)
  2. Our Intro the Old Testament studies are in recess now until after the school holidays — you’ll be very welcome if you would like to join us then!
  3. This Sunday September 27 we return Ezekiel for one of the last few reflections we’ll draw from him, considering this time the Valley of Dry Bones! In addition, we’ll hear Psalm 130 for the day and the set gospel reading see here for some commentary on the Matthew text.  
  4. A brief account of ministry of the saint(s) commemorated this Sunday can be found here: September 27 – James Watson  

February 2 – Simeon & Anna

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Simeon & Anna, witnesses to Jesus

Simeon and Anna appear in the second chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Forty days after his birth and according to the Law, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem so the he might be named, and Mary could undergo the Rite of Purification of the mother.

When they entered the Temple, there were two people who recognised God’s son. Faith was not dead in Israel, there was still a remnant.

We are first of all introduced to Simeon. We are told he is a righteous and devout man who was waiting for God to deliver Israel. Luke tells us that Simeon had the Holy Spirit upon him and that he had been told he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Therefore, the Holy Spirit had prompted him to come to the Temple because God’s Messiah had come.

Upon seeing Jesus, he took him in his arms and speaks a prophecy. This has become known as the ‘Nunc Dimittis’, from the first words of its Latin translation, ‘now dismiss’. Simeon was ready to die. He had seen the Messiah, God’s salvation.

Simeon was familiar with the scriptures and his insight flowed from this knowledge. He was referring to a passage from Isaiah about waiting for the restoration of Jerusalem; for the coming of the Messiah, the Christ, who God had promised. Jews of that time had taken the scriptural prophecies to mean that they, the Jews; either those who kept the Torah or those born Jews, would be saved, but they had not recognised that God spoke about him bringing salvation to the whole world, Jew and Gentile. In giving the prophecy of Simeon, Luke is letting his non-Jewish listeners know that Christ came to save all who believe. Simeon tells Mary that although the offer of salvation is for all peoples, it will not be received by everyone. Luke uses this theme throughout his Gospel.

The second person we meet is Anna. Anna means grace. She is called ‘Daughter of Penuel’. Penuel is the place where Jacob wrestled with the angel and means ‘I have seen Gods face, yet my life is preserved.’

Anna we are told is an elderly woman. She is either 84 years old or a widow for 84 years which would make her over 100 years old. She is described as a prophet and had given her life to prayer and fasting, both night and day. We are told she never left the Temple. Anna thanked God and then told everyone about the Messiah.

There is much we can learn from these two elderly saints. While the authorities carried on with their religious duties these two prayerful people recognised in Jesus that the Messiah had come to the Temple. Simeon tells us that the challenge of Christ causes people to reveal their true attitudes. Some will speak against the sign of God’s love, it searches their hearts, some will be scandalised by a salvation that can only be achieved by way of a cross.

Simeon can now depart this life in peace, but Anna wants everyone to know that the Messiah has come and had come for all who receive him.

Rev Peter Welsh

January 30 – Lesslie Newbigin

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Lesslie Newbigin, Christian thinker

The Right Reverend James Edward Lesslie Newbigin, CBE (1909-1998).

Newbigin was born 8 December 1909 in Northumbria (North Britain) to a devout Christian family. This was not a faith he shared, for during his time at boarding school he had “abandoned the Christian assumptions of [his] home and childhood.” This changed when he attended Cambridge University and became a member of the Student Christian Movement. At the end of his first year of study Newbigin spent his summer at a Quaker service center in South Wales, one that catered to the miners of the region. In the midst of the hardship he witnessed, Newbigin had a vision,

“a vision of the cross, but it was the cross spanning the space between heaven and earth, between ideals and present realities, and with arms that embraced the whole world. I saw it as something which reached down to the most hopeless and sordid of human misery and yet promised life and victory. I was sure that night, in a way I had never been before, that this was the clue that I must follow if I were to make any kind of sense of the world.”

Though a long quote, this vision became the central point of all that followed in Newbigin’s life and work.

Upon graduation from university, Newbigin became part of the SCM staff and here he met and married Helen Henderson (they would have three children). He would train for the ministry within the Presbyterian Church before becoming a missionary to India (1936). He served as a “district missionary” in Kanchipuram for the period of WWII and was instrumental in working towards the creation of the Church of South India. In 1947, he was appointed Bishop of Madurai and Ramnad.

Newbigin was instrumental in the ecumenical movement, working as General Secretary of the International Missionary Council (IMC) and drafter of many ecumenical statements. He was responsible for overseeing the integration of the IMC and the World Council of Churches (WCC). At the conclusion of his secondment to the WCC, Newbigin returned to India, and served as the Bishop in Madras until his retirement in 1975.

After returning to England, Newbigin taught theology of mission and ecumenical studies along with Hinduism at Birmingham University. He transferred his ordination to the United Reformed Church, and in 1980-88 became the minister of the URC, Winson Green, Birmingham. This church had had no minister for 40 years and was housed in a building that had stood condemned for 30 years. The neighbours were from the Indian subcontinent and the West Indies, and the church stood opposite the gates of HM Prison Birmingham. This experience confirmed for Newbigin the missionary context of western society.

Newbigin was the keynote speaker and bible study leader at the first (and only) National Conference of Australian Churches held in Melbourne February 1960. 350 attended the 10 day conference and 175 participants (46% of the total number) were members of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational denominations in Australia. The conference signalled a renewed emphasis on the mission for the local congregation. In his closing remarks Newbigin stressed that the ecumenical encounter was, “for the sake of the gospel and the witness that you have to bear to the Australian nation.

The conference was timely and influenced the work of the Joint Commission on Church Union formed by the three denominations. The November 1962 report, The Church its Nature, Function and Ordering was a key document that led to the formation of the Uniting Church 15 years later. Members of the Joint Commission and participants in the conference included Alan Watson, J. F. Peter and John C. Alexander (Presbyterian), Frank Hambly, Hubert H. Trigge, and Bertram R. Wyllie (Methodist) and J. D. Northey (Congregational). Colin Williams and J. Davis McCaughey were also involved as conference members lived in at the 5 denominational colleges within the University of Melbourne. Harvey Perkins was conference secretary and with others continued to provide leadership in the ecumenical movement in the following decade.

Proposals for the united church included the recommendation that ordained ministers be named Presbyters, leadership to include bishops and that the consideration be given to forming a concordat with the Church of South India. It could be that Newbigin’s role as Bishop of the Church of South India contributed to this proposal. After further debate and consideration each of these proposals were not agreed to when the Basis of Union was adopted.

He initiated The Gospel and Our Culture Movement in the early 1980s, which would become better known as the missional church movement in the USA. Newbigin died in 1998, as one of the key and most creative ecumenical and missionary thinkers of the twentieth century. A prolific author, a good number of his books have stood the test of time, but if I had to recommend one as compulsory reading it would be his 1953 “Household of God.”

Rev Dr John Flett / Dean Eland

January 29 – Andrei Rublev

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Andrei Rublev, person of prayer

Very little is known for certain about the life of Rublev. The date of his birth is probably between 1360 and 1370. It is recorded that he died 29/1/1430, though even that is questioned. He was a Russian Orthodox monk, and it was the custom for iconographers to sign their work only as “A Monk of the Eastern Church”. Attention was to be focused on the subject of the icon, and not who painted (or wrote) it. Only a very few particularly talented and significant iconographers were remembered by name and their work identified. Rublev was certainly one of these.

He appears to have lived most of his life in the Trinity-St Sergius Monastery near Moscow. He may have come from a family of artisans, as the name Rublev comes from “Rubel” a particular tool in Russia. There is a legend that he was shy and calm by nature. The first reliable record is dated 1405, when he painted icons and frescoes in the Annunciation Cathedral, which still stands in the Kremlin in Moscow. Most of his work was destroyed. Although we know little about Rublev himself, we know a good deal about the turbulent times in which he lived. Warring princes destabilised the country, weakening it and making it vulnerable to invasion by Mongols and Taters. Plague swept through Russia early in the fifteenth century, and it was a time of brutality and corruption.

Rublev rose above all this to paint works that are marked by simplicity and peace. His most famous icon is the Old Testament Trinity, which is also adjudged by many as the greatest icon ever painted. It was done about 1410, and has a story of its own. Icons were protected by a finishing treatment of olipha (basically linseed oil), which darkened over time, and which, together with soot from candles and general dust and dirt, meant that a century after they were painted they were obscured. Rublev’s Trinity was over-painted several times in an attempt to preserve it, but eventually it was discarded.

In 1905 new techniques for cleaning old icons were developed, and some restorers happened upon this old board. A small test strip revealed exquisite work and it was sent to Moscow, where it lay until the revolution. In 1918 the first Minster for the Arts in the Communist government had it restored to its present condition and hung it in the Tretyakov Museum in Moscow, where it still resides, with several other undisputed works of the master. Apart from technique, the work of Rublev reveals deep insight into Orthodox theology and devotion. This is brought out in the film of his life made by Tarkovsky in 1966. The film was immediately suppressed by the Soviet Government, but was shown to great acclaim at the Cannes Festival of 1969. A censored version was then allowed into the Soviet Union, but it was cut even further for the American market in 1971. The version now available is disjointed, but shows Rublev as a man of prayer, deeply affected by the chaos of his time, and only rising to greatness after much suffering.

The Trinity icon depicts the Trinity as the three angels who appeared to Abraham at Mamre, and presents them as equal, bound together in a community of love. There is a space at the table so that person praying before this icon can be included in the life of heaven through the Eucharistic chalice that sits on the table.  This divine energy cannot be shaken, no matter what disasters may occur on earth. Surrounding all is God’s peace and light and life.

by Rev Dr Rob Gallacher

January 29 – Alan Walker

These weekly “People to Commemorate” posts are a kind of calendar for the commemoration of the saints, reproduced here from a Uniting Church Assembly document which can be found in full here. They are intended for copying and pasting into congregational pew sheets on the Sunday closest to the nominated date.

Images (where provided) are of icons by Peter Blackwood; click on the image to download a high resolution copy of the image.

Alan Walker, faithful servant

Born in Sydney in 1911 the eldest of two boys, he was proud of the Walker heritage. John Joseph Walker was sent to Australia in the early 1800s as a convict, as was a young woman Ann Gill who became his partner. Their son John was an unruly young man but was converted through a Methodist preacher in 1838. He joined the local Methodists and began to preach. Alan’s father was an evangelist and he responded to his father’s appeal to people to give their lives to Christ at a service at the Boolaroo Methodist Church. He became the youngest student ever to be admitted to theological training in 1930. Due to the financial situation he had to pay his way, which he did through a profitable fruit and vegetable run.

He did well at theological college and asked to do university studies at Sydney University which he did while serving brief terms at Hornsby, Croydon and with the Young People’s Department. Some key lay people at Croydon recognised his potential and offered to send him to England for a year to gain experience in ministry with leading ministers there. He was about to get married but they agreed he could take his new wife if he raised the cost of her fare. He was given a one-way fare and living expenses for three months. After that he was on his own financially. In 1938 he was enabled to spend time on the staff of each of the leading mission churches throughout the country. He was impacted especially by the ‘big three’ of English Methodism, namely Sangster, Soper and Weatherhead. During this time he went to Europe, witnessed a Hitler rally in Germany, and attended a Faith and Order congress in Switzerland where he met William Temple.

On returning to Australia he was appointed to Cessnock, a coal-mining town. He learned to understand the people and community he served, he made use of the mass media of radio and newspapers, as a pacifist he had to cope with controversy, and he developed links with the Trade Union movement. During this time he gained a master’s degree in sociology published as Coal Town: A Sociological Survey of Cessnock. Next he was appointed to Waverley.

There he continued to develop his media ministry, built a community centre with a range of programs and the congregation grew. He was chosen to represent the Methodist Church at the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam in 1948 and the Australian government at the United Nations in New York in 1949.

He was asked to head up the Methodist Church’s “Mission to the Nation” which was launched in April 1953 in the Melbourne Town Hall. He travelled the nation speaking to huge crowds and attracting a great deal of media attention. A National Christian Youth Convention was held in January 1955 as part of the Mission to the Nation. He was then invited to the US to serve the Board of Evangelism of the Methodist Church for a year in 1956. This was followed by becoming visiting professor of evangelism at the Boston School of Theology for a semester and then returning to Australia by ship via Europe and the Suez Canal.

In 1958 he began as superintendent minister of the Central Methodist Mission in Sydney. He emphasised worship, social witness and evangelism as he sought to minister not just to the congregations but to the city. He instigated programs such as Teenage Cabaret, College for Christians, Singles Society and School for Seniors. The television program “I Challenge the Minister” gained high ratings. Vision Valley conference centre was established. The most notable development was Lifeline, the telephone counselling service that became a worldwide movement. In 1970 he became President of the NSW Methodist Conference, which included conducting “Newness NSW” missions and the Valley Festival. He was constantly in the media speaking on social issues, most notably opposing the war in Vietnam and Apartheid in South Africa. He had many overseas trips speaking to different groups: to the US in particular but also memorable ones to Southern Africa.

After 21 years at the Mission he became director of World Evangelism for the World Methodist Council from 1978 to 1987. He and his wife Win literally travelled the world proclaiming his holistic gospel that held together the personal and social dimensions of the gospel. This is best expressed in his most important book, The Whole Gospel for the Whole World (published by Abingdon in 1957). He wrote over 20 books and numerous articles especially the Easter and Christmas editorials for the Sydney Morning Herald. At an age when most people are retired he established the Pacific College (now Alan Walker College) of Evangelism at North Parramatta and served as principal until 1995 when he finally retired. He is remembered as a powerful speaker and leader who proclaimed Christ, spoke out on social issues, and established Lifeline. He was an evangelist, a prophetic voice and a person with a pastoral heart who became one of Australia’s living treasures. His voice and life are heard today in the need to keep evangelism and social justice, personal and social holiness together, along with worship and pastoral care.

Contributed by Chris Walker

Lectionary Commentary – Sunday/Ordinary 27A; Proper 22A (October 2-October 8)

The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Series I: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 see also By the Well podcast on this text and Psalm 19

Series II:

Matthew 21:33-46 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Philippians 3:4b-14

Lectionary Commentary – Sunday/Ordinary 26A; Proper 21A (September 25-October 1)

The following links are to the Revised Common Lectionary commentary pages of Howard Wallace and Bill Loader, and are suggested as preparation for hearing the readings in worship for the Sunday indicated above.

Series I: Exodus 17:1-7 see also By the Well podcast on this text and Psalm 78

Series II:

Matthew 21:23-32 see also By the Well podcast on this text

Philippians 2:1-13

20 September – Life in free fall

View or print as a PDF

Pentecost 16

Ezekiel 33:10-17
Psalm 145
Matthew 20:1-16

In a sentence
Most of our life is spent in ‘the air’, but we can be confident that God’s hand is always there to catch us

If you have read Ezekiel up to the point of our text for today you could not help but be struck by the almost relentlessly critical and threatening nature of his preaching.

After the opening vision of the ‘appearance of the likeness of the glory of God’, the text has been dark and anguished. The ‘glory of the Lord’ takes up a sword, first for Judah and then for the nations.

With Chapter 33 there comes a distinct shift in Ezekiel’s message. Jerusalem has fallen and, though it has been briefly touched upon in the midst of his earlier, darker sermons, the possibility of forgiveness and a new relationship between God and Israel comes to the fore.

And yet, there is a sense in which this last part of the book is the true beginning of Ezekiel’s preaching. Clearly this is not the case chronologically, beginning as he does by interpreting so darkly the approaching loss of Jerusalem. But this shift in his preaching is the beginning in terms of the motivation or the ‘engine’ of his preaching.

The wrath of God – a notion some of us find trouble even entertaining today – does not merely destroy, does not obliterate. The wrath of this God is expressed in the context of the covenant: from the covenant to the covenant.

The wrath of God is, then, oddly and unexpectedly creative. Creative intent is present in all that God does. It is God’s intent in the face of the chaos of the primal waters over which God moves to bring the order of the first creation; it is God’s intent in the face of the deterioration of life in Israel and the storm clouds of Babylon’s approach. God is creative as much as judge as God is creative as originator and restorer.

To offer an image which might make this easier to understand, we could say that if God casts the people away – and surely God can do this – it is always, as it were, in an upward direction, such that the people must eventually fall again, back to God.

Such a ‘flight’ of the people of God is a useful metaphor for the relationship between God and the people in Ezekiel’s preaching. Falling objects are unable to do anything to change their trajectory. Just think of those ‘funny home videos’ in which, once the hapless lad has left the mat of the trampoline in a certain direction, there is nothing he can do to stop himself sailing over the fence into the neighbours’, or ending up hanging upside down from a tree. Falling is perhaps the quintessential experience of helplessness and so also the quintessential experience of chaos and nothingness.

What Ezekiel has been describing to this point has been Israel ‘in the air’. And so there is, in fact, nothing to be done. Babylon is coming, the covenant has been broken, and Israel is in freefall.

As we have seen, Ezekiel takes this experience and uses it to speak of God’s freedom to be for or against the people. Ezekiel interprets the chaos of history – our worst fears for ourselves and the worst we can do to each other – as a sign of our distance from God. For reasons we’re heard before God is even understood to be the cause of this suffering, in a carefully qualified sense of ‘cause’.

But the message of hope to which the book of Ezekiel now comes is that, if God has tossed the people into the air, they are not tossed to the wind. God braces to catch them again – to catch us. This is the gospel at the heart of Ezekiel’s preaching, that the beginning and the end of all things are in God’s hand and that, if we find ourselves falling, it is back into the hands of God.

To find ourselves falling is a totally disorienting experience. It is indeed an experience of utter helplessness, and we spend much of our time and energy trying not to be helpless. And so falling is what it is like to hear that we carry a terminal illness, or to lose a job, or for a marriage to fail, or for a child to die. In such moments there nothing to hold on to, nothing with which to brace ourselves, which is not also falling with us.

There is something of this in what we are experiencing at the moment. We are unable to fast-forward the clock so that the virus is behind us, unable to re-establish the patterns that make us feel safe, and exposed also to deep problems in the world and in ways of doing things we thought – not that long ago – weren’t too bad. We simply have to endure the fall.

But were we to dig deeper, we might come to suspect that life as a whole – even at its best – is a kind of freefall, even if we spend most of it trying to find something to grab onto.

If that were the case – if it were that, in sickness and in health, whether poor or rich, whether young or old, we were always ‘falling’ – then in the end there would be not much difference between being held in God’s hand and still being in the air yet destined again to land there again, and we would not worry too much about where we are.

Rather, we might simply allow that most of life is spent up in the air, and get on with the business of learning to fly.

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