9 Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, 12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Today’s reading from Henri Nouwen was titled The Root of Patience. I’m a very mixed bag as far as patience goes. I can be very patient at work with someone who is new to something; when it is someone who I think should be more than capable of doing it, I can be less so. Perhaps though, I should be forgiving this latter group their trespasses as others forgive my trespasses against them.
For one of my blind spots is probably St Paul. Yes, there are some parts of the writings of St Paul that I cherish – but generally I am in that first category – new to it, needing to know the language; the context; how to start opening up what seems to have been written long ago for a different age and make it relevant to life today.
Today’s challenge was to look for a calendar of proposed service to others or positive changes to my own spiritual life. Matthew 6:1 precludes me from doing the former, at least in public, and perhaps the latter. But perhaps the ship has already sailed on that by reading this book and writing publicly about it?
Oh, and finally, a musical treat. Tonight we had the Advent Procession at St Albans Cathedral. What a wonderful, God-filled experience it was. Lit by candle, we looked at exile and restoration. Through the seven great ‘O’s of Advent (to which I’ll no doubt be returning later in Advent), we looked at creation, the fall, Moses being given the law of God, the founding of the line of David, the lamentations of the exiled chosen people for Jerusalem, the promise of restoration (yesterday’s reading from the book, in fact), and the announcing of the Saviour.
Somehow I felt closer to God this year than I have in previous years – despite “working” as usual as a sideman and worrying about people setting fire to their service sheets. Was it singing O come, o come Emmanuel and Lo, he-e co-omes wi-ith clou-ou-ouds de-e-ace-end-ing again? Yes, it was. But it was also sitting back to listen to the choir sing what appears to be even the simplest of pieces – yet this is deceptive simplicity. Written by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, as one of the commenters on this YouTube video says, it is not possible for me to listen to this without a shiver down my neck.