The second anthology written by W. W. Gibson

To the Reader

I introduce this book with the earnest hope that in its pages you may find an understanding of the creator of the universe – our God – a God who, as shown to us in the New Testament, is not only a God of great power and influence, but also a God of humility, capable of intense love towards the people he has created. A God who has a supreme purpose, and a complete plan for the whole of his creation. A God who guides us towards the fulfilment of that plan; which is somehow connected with an entirely new kind of existence; which, in some way (like the universe itself) has no ending. Whether or not we take part in this plan seems to depend on whether we are worthy to do so; our worthiness depending on how we have conducted ourselves in this life.

W.W. Gibson

O Breath of God, breathe on us now,

And move within us while we pray;

The spring of our new life art thou,

The very light of our new day.

O strangely art thou with us, Lord,

Neither in height nor depth to seek;

In nearness shall thy voice be heard;

Spirit to spirit thou dost speak

Alfred Henry Vine

1845 – 1917

God and evolutive creation (extracts)

Because we have a considerable measure of freedom, we are able to move towards union with God or to separate ourselves from God. Above all, we can refuse to let our lives be patterned on the model of the whole of creation by refusing to give ourselves to others and to God, by refusing to love, by closing in on our own self – sufficiency. In this way we are capable of frustrating the plan of the universe to the extent we are involved in it as elements of the universe. We can let God work as he wills in us, we can allow Jesus to bring us into his own perfect union with the father, or we can shut ourselves up in our own individuality and refuse to love. If we choose the latter option, we are also refusing to be, because our own continued being depends on our willingness to give up ourselves. Creative union always involves a sort of voluntary death, a giving up of oneself in love to find more being. A refusal to take part in the mutual self-giving which is the pattern alike of the creation of the universe and the life of God is the basic form of evil in man. Because union on the human level and higher can only be brought about through love, our response cannot be forced and so we may either hasten or delay God’s creative activity.

We must ask the question "Does creation add something to God, or does it ultimately have no effect at all on his complete self-sufficiency?" I suggest that the answer is clear. Creation is an expression of God’s perfection. Yet by the act of love with which he creates, God limits his self-sufficiency by making something which is not himself, so that his love gives an immense value to what he makes and he produces something which he could have by no other means. We must hold two truths together: God entirely self-sufficient and yet the universe brings him something vitally necessary.

R.B. Smith, B.A., B.D., Ph.D.

(Bachelor of Arts. Bachelor of Divinity. Doctor of Philosophy)

In human beings, evil is not in free-will, but in free-will misused

The place of evil in a world of evolution (extracts)

The universe is an evolutionary process and, speaking theologically, interpreting God’s creative act as a creating by means of evolution.

If the universe was a fixed system or if it were something that moved in a cyclical fashion without any real progress, then evil would be something which is inexplicably ‘there’, and a search for its place or origin would be a hopeless task. However, in the perspective of evolution it is now possible to trace the development of evil, and to see what function it has in the world process. Evolution contributes to the solution of the problem by giving us a vastly increased insight into the nature of the mystery. It is a fact that there is both a greater quantity of evil and a more serious quality of evil to be found at the higher stages of evolution than at the lower ones. In particular, human evil is a far more serious matter than pre-human evil.

Through the continuing process of evolution, God is bringing his creation to ever higher states of being. God does not intervene directly to interrupt the process of his creation, but rather he directs it by the force of his attraction from ahead, and by the working of Christ. In such a process, where God does not directly compel but urges, and where he depends on the reactions of his creatures for the furtherance of their creation, evil appears necessarily in the cause of evolution – not by accident, but through the very structure of the system. God could only create a world which is evolving towards a free union of persons; therefore, we must maintain that evil is to some extent unavoidable as a side-effect.

The actual turning against God, which is sin, could only be a free act of mankind. God is preparing, through his evolutive creation, something of great value which could not be had any other way. Therefore, natural evil is, at least to some extent, a necessary consequence of his purposes. An evolutive creation must include

Disorder and a tendency to regression, and involves the possibility of human sin with all its consequences. God cannot stop it short without stopping his act of creation. However God will not tolerate evil ultimately, but he is in fact working to bring it to an end. In Christ he is working within his creation to overcome evil. When creation is complete, evil will have been completely overcome.

God can make a better creation than this world, but at the same time this is the best of all possible worlds because it is this world that God is leading to a perfect consummation. The limitations of the present state of creation mean that God cannot immediately overcome all evil and bring us to perfection. Human action in overcoming evil is immensely important. We cannot leave the future entirely to God, because his plan for us includes our co-operation in our own future. God does not compel us to him, but his love draws us. WE may either co-operate of rebel. If we respond in the direction of ever-increasing knowledge and consciousness, and of love for one another, instead of rebelling, evolution will be more quickly advanced.

What is the final end of humanity? If the universe were such that man was headed towards total death, then it would be revealed as senseless and incapable of producing the sort of creatures it has produced. Christianity provides a final assurance for human action. The death and resurrection of Christ are evidence that God can overcome evil, and that he has acted to overcome it; human personality must press on towards its completion in Christ. In God’s acceptance of our efforts towards the transformation of ourselves, we shall find the final solution to the problem of evil.

R.B. Smith (see page 1)

God does something more wonderful than make things; he makes things make themselves.

In the Beginning

In the very beginning of the chaos produced from the ‘big bang’, all the elements which we can see as having emerged in evolution, and which are still emerging, were there. Anything that we recognise as existing now must have been there in the beginning. Consciousness, thought, spontaneity, and of course the life – principle, were all there. In the world nothing could ever burst forth as final across the different thresholds successively traversed by evolution which has not already existed in an obscure and primordial way.

Pere de Chardin (Jesuit priest)

Note:- See my comment on pages 91 and 92 in my first book. This comment was written before I read this extract from Teilhard’s book.

The Magic of Man’s Mind

In the study of the past man uses successional time as a yardstick: he estimates the age of the earth in terms of years conveniently measured by its movement round the sun. But those years were never experienced as duration as far as the planet was concerned, because there was nobody to experience them. To think of them as duration is therefore false in any sense except one. To man, now they can be imagined as duration, by the device of exporting his own time-sense into a period in which there was no time-sense.

H.A. Blair B.D (Bachelor of Divinity)

Chancellor of Truro Cathedral

In Christ something unsuspected comes to light: The humility of God.

The Mind and Evolution

It is quite easy to see what we would call ‘sin’ active in evolution, with its cruelty and waste: but we see it because moral values have emerged with the emergence of mind. Before there were moral values it is difficult to see that cruelty and waste has real meaning. Until mind sets up a pattern of what ought to be, cruelty and waste are simply parts of the way things are – neither good nor bad. It is because it does not conform to that ought-ness; and it finally decides that its own progress shall no longer be in nature’s way, but according to certain moral laws. So mind brings good out of an evil that was not of its own creating; it forgives the forces of evolution without condoning them. This agrees with the view of man in Christ as the cosmic redeemer: God in Christ redeems man, man in Christ redeems nature.

H.A. Blair. B.D.

Personality is of ultimate significance in the constitution of the universe, in personal relationships we touch the final meaning of existence as nowhere else.

History is the dimension of the cross as eternity is the dimension of the resurrection.

Jesus tells us how to become good Christians

If anyone wishes to be a follower of mine, he must leave self behind: He must take up his cross and come with me. Whoever cares for his own safety is lost: But if a man will let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self. What will a man gain by winning the whole world, at the cost of his true self? Or what can he give that will buy that self back?

St. John’s Good News

Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd is one who lays down his life for the sheep. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a wheat grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. But if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. If a man serves me he must follow me; my father will honour the one who serves me. Now my heart if troubled, and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? But it was for this very reason that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" "Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself".

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There are no other commandments greater than these.

Forgiveness is the answer to regretted sin, and redemption is rescue from the situation into which sin has led.

The Mystery of Evil

by a Jesuit

If God is willing to prevent evil but not able to do so; then he does not appear to be all–powerful. If God is able to prevent evil but not willing to do so; then he does not appear to be all-good.

If he is both able and willing to prevent evil; then why is there evil?

Concerning moral evil: God might, without blame, fail to prevent moral evil, which he in no way intended, if it would be the occasion of proportionate good which, logically, could arise in no other way.

Concerning non-moral evil: God might, without blame, directly cause non-moral evil for the sake of proportionate good if, logically, the good could arise in no other way. He might, without blame, fail to prevent it, and even intend it, if it were logically necessary for the achieving of proportionate good.

There seem to be ‘goods’ which, logically, could arise only on the occasion of evil – mercy and forgiveness seem to be examples of these ‘goods’.

Some virtues, such as fortitude, could be fully developed; it seems, only through an element of trial by evil of some kind.

Personal faith and trust in God could grow in certain ways, only through the testing of faith and trust in God’s total goodness and power occasioned by evil.

Because God is both infinitely wise and good, the only sufficient reason he could have for choosing a world is that the sum of its perfection is the greatest possible. Evil contributes to the world’s perfection in such a way that, without it, the world would not be the best possible. Actual evil is a necessary means to greater good and, ultimately, to the greatest good. The best world is the one which has the greatest variety and richness possible. Evil is needed if this world is to be the one of ‘most reality, most perfection and most significance’.

O Holy Spirit, God,

All loveliness is thine;

Great things and small are both in thee,

The star-world is thy shrine.

The sunshine thou of God,

The life of man and flower;

The wisdom and the energy

That fills the world with power.

Thou art the stream of love,

The unity divine;

Good men and true are one in thee,

And in thy radiance shine.

The heroes and the saints

Thy messengers became;

And all the lamps that guide the world

Were kindled at thy flame.

The calls that come to us

Upon thy winds are brought;

The light that gleams beyond our dreams

Is something thou hast thought.

Give fellowship, we pray,

In love and joy and peace;

That we in counsel, knowledge, might

And wisdom, may increase

Percy Dearmer, 1867 – 1938

Forgiveness of sins and the cure of disease are both represented in the gospels as aspects of Christ’s onslaught on the powers of evil.

From Doris, 13 April 1976

That is simply best what God willeth, and therefore to live here is best, whilst I do live here; and to depart if best when the time for my departure cometh.

My God my father while I stray

Far from my home on life’s rough way,

O teach me from my heart to say

"Thy will be done".

Though dark my path and sad my lot,

Let me be still and murmur not

Or breathe the prayer divinely taught,

"Thy will be done".

Let me my fainting heart be blest,

With thy sweet spirit for its guest.

My God to thee I leave the rest

"Thy will be done".

Renew my will from day to day,

Blend it with thine; and take away,

All that now makes it hard to say

"Thy will be done".

Then when on earth I breathe no more,

The prayer oft mixed with tears before,

I’ll sing upon a happier shore,

"Thy will be done".

Dr David Stafford-Clark says:- "Psychiatry aims primarily to understand mental rather than physical needs, it is especially concerned with those conditions in which human emotions, attitudes, and beliefs have been altered or disturbed by illness or adversity. Minds can be as distorted by sickness as bodies, and their functions can suffer and become as crippled and as painful".

(This is my own experience following a nervous breakdown from which I have never fully recovered physically or mentally).

Good Friday. 16 April 1976

O Sacred head once wounded,

With grief and pain weighed down,

How scornfully surrounded

With thorns, thine only crown!

How pale art thou with anguish,

With sore abuse and scorn!

How does that visage languish

Which once was bright as morn!

O Lord of life and glory,

What bliss till now was thine!

I read the wondrous story,

I joy to call thee mine.

Thy grief and thy compassion

Were all for sinners’ gain;

Mine, mine was the transgression,

But thine the deadly pain.

What language shall I borrow

To praise thee, heavenly friend,

For this thy dying sorrow.

Thy pity without end?

Lord, make me thine for ever,

Nor let me faithless prove;

O let me never, never

Abuse such dying love!

Be near me, Lord, when dying;

O show thyself to me;

And, for my succour flying,

Come, Lord, to see me free;

These eyes, new faith receiving,

From Jesus shall not move;

For he who dies believing

Dies safely through thy love

Paulus Gerhardt, 1607 – 76

(From Salve Caput Cruentatum, attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091 - 1153);

Tr.by James Waddell Alexander, 1804 – 59

The God of love my shepherd is,

And he that doth me feed;

While he is mine and I am his,

What can I want or need?

He leads me to the tender grass,

Where I both feed and rest;

Then to the streams that gently pass

In both I have the best.

Or if I stray, he doth convert,

And bring my mind in frame,

And all this not for my desert,

But for his holy name.

Yea, in death’s shady black abode

Well may I walk, not fear;

For thou art with me, and thy rod

To guide, thy staff to bear.

Surely thy sweet and wondrous love

Shall measure all my days;

And, as it never shall remove,

So neither shall my praise.

George Herbert 1593 – 1632

By a Jesuit

The existence of corruptible beings brings evil in its train. Evil being essentially a lack, a failure by something to be what it ought to be; and beings as such being essentially good, there must be more good than evil in the universe, since evil only exists as parasitic on good. God allows the corruptions and defects of individual things for the good of the universe as a whole. Often a thing may not be able to realize its own nature fully without damaging something else. Thus the occurrence of each kind of evil is permitted for the realization of another kind of good. God forbids evil, but does not prevent it from occurring, and when it does so he uses it for his providential purposes.

Extracts from "Five Questions in Search of an Answer"

By Dr David Stafford-Clark

Psychiatrist, writer and teacher,

T.V. personality, and co-author and

Producer of two award – winning

documentary films. Also Physician

in charge of Psychological medicine.

Guy’s hospital.

Even when stridently proclaiming a materialist philosophy, which inexorably rob his existence of ultimate meaning or purpose, man continues, despite himself, to behave as though what he did mattered, and that there is a meaning in life. Careful and objective study of man’s life reveals him in search, not only of immediate physical satisfactions, but, beyond these, in search of some sort of point and purpose in living at all.

If God exists, there can be no substitute for him. If he does not, existence itself is without ultimate meaning.

Christianity can supply the ultimate purpose, the ultimate hope and the ultimate standard of values for human society as a whole; it is the one answer to the human need to believe which both explains and justifies this need; and for medicine and psychiatry, Christian standards remain indispensable.

It would seem that pain, built failure and ultimately death, are in some way made less severe mitigated by medicine, but man cannot completely escape from them, nor would he be the same creature, with the same opportunities, vision, and possibilities, if he could.

To make amends, atonement, forgiveness, love and freedom by payment, redemption, are similarly an essential part of the divine answer to the human predicament. They are the complementary aspects to the hopelessness of humanity by itself. There is in fact an inevitability of failure, at the purely human level, balanced by an abiding possibility of redemption through love, at the divine level, which man needs and which he is bound to seek.

For the first Christians, and indeed for all of us, the facts witnessed and recorded of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth have to be recognised as crucial. No discussion of the world and man’s place in it can be adequate that does not take Jesus into account; not simply as a divine eruption in to history, mysterious as that must be, but also in one way as a natural and inevitable happening within it. The shadow of the cross and the mystery of the resurrection hang forever over what might otherwise seem the blindness of our human fate.

As far as anything is certain about the gospels, two things emerge again and again with un mistakable clarity, Jesus of Nazareth believed that he was the Christ, Messiah, and the son of God; and he also believed that part of his task was to reveal by his own divine incarnation an aspect of the loving and merciful God who was his father. If he was right about these two things, then the answer to the whole mystery and agony of the human predicament is indeed to be found in Christianity. If he was not, Christianity is yet one more beautiful but tragic myth.

The central idea of Christianity is that of a God who freely chose to live on our terms and amongst us in that one syllable of recorded time of which the gospels tell; and who embodied in his life the principle that love between living creatures always was, and always will be, the supreme factor which gives the universe its value.

Having repeatedly announced and exemplified this fact in his own life, the man made God and God made man finally suffered death by torture; but even then only after scorn and ridicule had been heaped upon him, simply because he remained true to the ideal of love throughout his life. But if it was necessary for God to become man, and die man’s cruellest death, in order to prove not only his love for man, but also the necessity of man’s love for him and for other men, then we are bound to ask what is the nature of this human predicament which demands so terrible a gesture to enable man to forgive God for creating him in a form inseparable from suffering? An answer is to be found in one of Christ’s own statements about the conditions for knowing and truly loving God. He said we must learn to love others as ourselves. Whenever we can come anywhere near to doing that, we begin to find some release from indignation, from bitterness, and from anger. We have yielded up that last all-important thing, the right to put ourselves and our own criticism first. Yet this of course was also exactly what Christ did himself. He yielded up his natural self-concern, his agony in the garden, even finally and deliberately his human and personal existence. Moreover he did it within the terms and conditions of human suffering in all its desperate reality.

Faith, if it is there, cannot finally be denied, even though its expression may change and the outwards forms of worship may cease totally as far as attendance at Church or regular use or acceptance of the sacraments is concerned. Hope, likewise; we cannot live without some kind of hope, and since we do not choose to die without having ridden our mortal ticket to the end of the line, then we are bound to acknowledge the hope which somehow lives in us.

And the greatest of these three is charity. That was how Jesus put it, the only son of a loving father who demanded of him and by him atonement for all of us. How much irony, how much desperation there is in that simple statement. And although so little has survived for us to know of what Jesus said and did, we see him as a man transcending the limitations of mankind; in his extraordinary wisdom and love in the sermon on the mount, in his extraordinary love, courage, and ability to reach the hearts of even the most stiff-necked, unyielding, obdurate and sadistic of his hearers when he delivered from their eager destructiveness the tired, dishevelled woman taken in adultery. They were longing for a chance, not simply to break up his meeting in the synagogue and enjoy the dreadful delights of a lynching, the public stoning of a helpless human being trapped in the judicial evil of the mosaic law; they were exultant above all because at last they had caught this man, who called himself the son of God, in a position in which he had either to deny the greatest prophet and law-giver of the Jewish people; or alternatively to stand by and watch one of the most hideous enactments of the cruelty of that law. And we can imagine Jesus thinking what to do, desperately and intensely, for a short while, while he traced patterns in the dust with his finger: and then he turned to them and said, "Let him that is without guilt among you cast the first stone". And faced by that, not one of them could do it; and then he turned to her and said, "Daughter does any man here condemn you?" and she replied, "No Lord, no one". No suggestion that she hadn’t sinned in the first place, no suggestion that it didn‘t matter: Simply the certainty that what mattered more was that he and his father loved her, had forgiven her, and had shown it in an unanswerably perfect way.

What do all these affirmations, challenges, and truly troubled inquiries add up to? They add up to a necessity to examine whether all this is for nothing. Is it for nothing that we were born, that we live and that we die? Is it for nothing that we love and that we suffer? Is it for nothing that we have legends and mysteries? Is it for nothing that we pray? Is it to no one?

For myself (and in the last analysis for whom else can I speak?) it is not for nothing. I cling to the hope of love, the hope for all the world. That was the hope of Jesus that is the hope of all religion. Truly for me, and I believe for all men, the hope of love is the only hope; the only foundation for belief. For me the hope of love is better than the certainty of justice.

In an assumption that life cannot ultimately be without meaning or purpose, the search for this purpose may well be possible: Can this perhaps explain the necessity of faith as a foundation of religious belief?

This suggested the first of the five questions; as well as the form of the book as a kind of compassionate inquisition, never straying too far from the basic postulate assumption of truth; for the human predicament remains for us at least the finally most crucial and poignant one, if only because we see it so clearly and so well. It is the predicament alike of the individual and of society: To be capable of perceiving what is ideal, and yet achieving only what the limitations of instinct, opportunity, and human vulnerability will permit; of conceiving what is good and yet achieving less and less of what is conducive to good. To aim high, to fall short, and to die without having reached one’s goal, these are all aspects of our human state. And yet in our human state, they are perhaps all we can expect.

Yet, tragically and superbly defiant, we insist to the end upon expecting more. Whether our expectations include eternal life, or simply more satisfaction of relief in this one: Whether we work, or pray, or look to sex, drugs, or violence for a release from despair, we are driven alike by some silent merciless necessity. This we must examine together in our individual minds.

If it be true that the business of the scientist is to ask ‘How?’ and of the artist to ask ‘Why?’, then it will remain for us all to see what we can make of the answers. Our conclusion cannot finally exclude a belief in God, nor indeed need we exclude it: But neither need we rest content with the forms of belief as yet revealed to us.

To see the essential value of human beings in terms of love and identification with them, rather than as objects to be exploited or denied, is to bring oneself within range of understanding violence which is within every one of us, which can indeed destroy every one of us; but whose understanding, if we can bear to share it, can give us a solution in which love can triumph over fear.

From Doris. 20 April 1976

God greatly loves the world, not just the few,

The wise, the great, the noble and the true.

Or those of lowered class or race or hue.

God loves the whole dark needy world, do you?

What deep wounds close without a scar?


The Power of love (Dr. Stafford-Clark)

Somehow, we have to learn to love others as ourselves: Unless we do this, we not only doom others but are doomed ourselves. But if we do this, there is no problem of racial or any other kind of prejudice which need overwhelm our judgement. If we can only renounce our innate determination to regard ourselves as unique and of supreme importance, with everything else going to the wall, we can tackle this. But unless we are capable of this renunciation of self-centredness, then we cannot tackle it at all. Love and humility are the only answer to this problem and they must be calmly and vigorously maintained in the face of prejudice, in the face of indignation; of segregation, of all arguments, all answers about what is good and what is sound, and what is practical for society and so forth. Humility, then, and acceptance, is part of love; and love alone can pay the price for the abandonment of prejudice – and its natural outcome. The essential feature is the inescapable self-centredness, separaten ess, and tragic personal pride of each individual one of us; whereby we do not love others as ourselves. If we can begin on that, we can begin at last to face, and then, perhaps, one day finally to solve, the problem.

Man, who has grown up intellectually, must now grow up morally and spiritually – or perish.

Dr. Stafford-Clark’s views on the miraculous healing of Jesus

As a doctor I have come to see a more natural approach to the healing miracles than the superstitious awe with which they are all too often greeted. The most remarkable thing about the miracles is simply that they represented feats which at that time, and to a lesser extent now, were impossible for mankind at the natural level of existence. But doctors do not find anything particularly remarkable about the ability of Christ to heal: Many aspects of healing are still outside their present knowledge, and remain to this extent miraculous. The evidence in the New Testament can therefore be taken as showing that the actions of Jesus in dealing with sickness were human actions wrought in and by his human nature, but with this difference: That his was the one human nature in which the full love of God met its effective response and was completely conveyed to others. This in turn reveals the qualities and powers inherent in human nature when God’s love is permitted to work out its full purpose through man.

Heal us, Immanuel; hear our prayers;

We wait to feel thy touch:

Deep-wounded souls to thee repair;

And, saviour, we are such.

Our faith is feeble, we confess;

We faintly trust thy word:

But wilt thou pity us the less?

Be that far from thee, Lord.

Remember him who once applied

With trembling for relief;

Lord, I believe! With tears he cried.

O help my unbelief!

She, too, who touched thee in the press,

And healing virtue stole,

Was answered: Daughter, go in peace,

Thy faith hath made thee whole.

Like her, with hopes and fears we come,

To touch thee, if we may:

O send us not despairing home,

Send none unhealed away.

William Cowper. 1731 – 1800


The search by logical reasoning for understanding of the basic truths and principles of the universe, life, and morals; and of human perception and understanding of these.


Calmly reasonable, bearing unavoidable misfortune unemotionally.

The following extract is from the book "Philosophical Theology", by F.R. Tennant (1866 – 1957) author; and teacher at Cambridge University. Mr Tennant believed that the reality of God could be established by philosophical reasoning from the evidences of nature, rather than from the religious experience.

Besides possessing a structure that happens to render it habitable by living creatures and intelligible to some of them, the world is a bearer of values, thus showing a relationship evincing affinity with beings such as can appreciate as well as understand. Nature is everywhere producing beauty. And nature’s beauty is of a piece with the world’s intelligibility and with its being a theatre for moral life; and thus far the case for a belief in God theism is strengthened by the appreciation of aesthetic beauty considerations. The natural world is so structured as to have produced based on reasoning. Morally correct rational and ethical life; and this is something that must be accounted for in any reasonable explanation of the universe. Nature, then, has produced moral beings. Nature and moral man are not at strife, but are organically one. The whole process of nature is capable of being regarded as instrumental to the development of intelligent and moral creatures. The universe might at one time have been a mere formless chaos; but it now has form and order, and not only this but an evolving order in which one stage is built upon another to produce in man a consciousness of the universe which also looks beyond it to a transcendent purposive mind. It is this total fact that demands explanation. All this being so the explanation points to the world being attributable to the design and creativeness of a being whose purpose is, or includes, the realisation of man of moral values; and the emergence of the human spirit, leading to an awareness of a divine purpose in life.

Come, let us with our Lord arise,

Our Lord, who made both earth and skies;

This is the day the Lord hath made,

That all may see his love displayed.

From Doris 29.4.1976

There is nothing so small but that we may honour God by asking his guidance of it, or insult him by taking it into our own hands.

A letter to the Daily Mirror - 29 April 1976

Mirror’s heading:- When the curtains will be drawn"

Writer of letter:- Mr Francis Griffin, Old Tovil Road, Maidstone, Kent

In the hope that it may give solace to others with a cross to bear, I feel I must tell you about my stepson’s wife. At the age of thirty, she has to face the prospect of certain blindness within the next two years. She knows this. She has been told there is no hope of averting it.

She carries on with a fantastically philosophical outlook. She is gay, sweet-tempered and faces, with unbelievable fortitude, the fact that all too soon, the "curtains will be drawn" for always.

She even denies herself the joys of motherhood because she would not be able to give her offspring a hundred per cent care and attention. She goes about life with a tranquil resignation that puts us petty grumblers to shame.

She held my hand and said to me "The colours and the contours crow less well defined as time goes by, and I must look and look, for all too soon I must live on memories".

And then she said, "But when the time comes and I can no longer look on beautiful things, the breezes will carry the scent of flowers and I shall live in eternal springtime".

I could only gently press her hand for there are no words to express my feelings.

Mirror’s reply:- A touching tribute to a brave woman, sir

Comment:- If it be God’s will, may this brave and noble woman not lose her sight, because she is indeed worthy of a miracle.

On the R.A.F. memorial in York Minster

As dying and behold we live. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. They went through the air and space without fear, and the shining stars marked their shining deeds.

The last words of Edith Cavell on Oct. 12 1915, in Brussels. Just before she was executed by the Germans.

"Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone".

(Obtained from York Minster)

At Gillamoor on the Yorkshire moors there is a place where a wonderful panorama of the moors is laid out before one. It is called "Surprise View", and on a wall nearby is the following poem by J. Keble (1792 – 1866)

Thou, who hast given me eyes to see

And love this sight so fair,

Give me a heart to find out thee

And read thee everywhere

(This is the last verse of hymn 43 in the Methodist hymn-book)

Just as everything serves some purpose of other, so man serves a purpose in the scheme of things and realizes his full nature in it. This is to develop his inborn capacities so far as he possible can.

C.M. Bowra

Imagine yourself alone in the midst of nothingness, and then try to tell me how large you are.

Eddington A.S.

God and the universe

Why is matter disposed as it is rather than otherwise?

We ask why is a car moving, not how.

As minds we do not ask why there should be any such thing as mind, although we do ask why there should be any such thing as matter obeying the particular laws which we find matter to obey. Minds accept intelligence as fact. We can conceive that matter is explicable by reference to a creative divine mind, and no questions arise as to why that divine mind should exist. As minds we can think of an eternal and infinite self-existent mind behind the physical universe within which our own finite minds have emerged. The dilemma proposed by the cosmological argument is either the existence of the universe as ordered by God or not explicable at all. If the existence of the universe as ordered cosmos is explicable or intelligible, it must be so in virtue of its dependence upon an eternal self-existent reality which is of the same order as the conscious mind. Whilst the cosmological argument presents us with the options: The universe as brute fact, or as divine creation; it does not provide any ground for preferring one to the other. The cosmological argument does, however, point to the possibility of God as the ultimate intelligibility of the universe. But this does not constitute a demonstration of God’s existence. Either the universe is an inexplicable fact; or its existence with the structure that it has, is intelligible in the only way in which it could ever be intelligible to us, namely through its dependence upon a reality that is ultimate in the order of mind.

For I was: I was alive: I could feel: I could guard my personality, the imprint of that mysterious unity from which my being was derived.

St. Augustine.

All creatures of our God and King,

Lift up your voice and with us sing:

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

Thou silver moon with softer gleam:

O praise Him, O praise Him.

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,

Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,

Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,

Ye lights of evening, find a voice;

O praise Him, O praise Him.

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,

Make music for thy Lord to hear,

Thou are so masterful and bright

That givest man both warmth and light:

O praise Him, O praise Him.

Dear Mother earth, who day by day

Unfoldest blessings on our way,

The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,

Let them his glory also show:

O praise Him, O praise Him.

And all ye men of tender heart,

Forgiving others, take your part,

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,

Praise God and on him cast your care:

O praise Him, O praise Him.

Let all things their creator bless,

And worship him in humbleness,

Praise, praise the father, praise the son,

And praise the spirit, three in one:

O praise Him, O praise Him.

St. Francis of Assisi, 1182 – 1226:

Tr. By William Henry Draper, 1955 – 1933

Extracts from the book "Selected to live" by Johanna – Ruth Dobschiner, a Dutch Jewess, who describes her escape from the German S.S. and Gestapo during the second World War. She now lives in Scotland. She was converted from an orthodox Jew to a Jewish Christian through reading the New Testament whilst in hiding from the Germans.

Reading the New Testament almost unconsciously I entered a part of history previously unknown to me, yet strangely familiar. It still dealt with the people of Israel, but new characters had entered the scene, names I had never been taught, events which had never been mentioned at home or in school lessons. Yet all the stories were so obviously Jewish and revealed a loving God. Why had I previously been so totally unaware of all these personalities? Why did these Christians have a bible which dealt with my people? One person outshone all others in these stories – a new prophet born in Israel. I liked this stranger to me. He was honest, thorough and fearless in the face of the fiercest opposition. He was interested in the under-privileged, the sick, the poor, the elderly. He was cautious among the rich, respecting their difficulty in finding a way for personal contact with their God. He hated and furiously condemned religious exhibitionism and outward piousness. I learned to respect him for his deep insight into human nature; for his dealings with men and women of varied characteristics. He was very close to God and called him Father. Although a Jew like myself, he practised his faith in an unorthodox manner, and yet it impressed those around him more than the traditional way of the Fathers. He began to call others to join him and they just left everything in their homes, and even their daily work, to obey his compelling command. I was deeply moved. He preached new and strange things regarding the approach to almighty God. He said he was the way, the truth and the life, and that no one could come to the father but by him. These statements lifted him above all previous prophets. If he was the promised messiah, we should accept and worship him as such. He definitely was somebody special. I admired him greatly, especially the way he stood up for righteousness, purity and every straightforward thought and word.

It hurt me that he was constantly misunderstood by so many and called unkind names. If I had been alive then I would have gone with him on his travels. He had the right idea about God and life in general. He could have taught me a great deal. His life became part of mine. The readings about him, and incidents concerning him, became more important to me than anything else. He had become my hero. The events of his life progressed in a most extraordinary way. He got himself into awkward places and situations, actually refusing the easy way out and saying that he had come into the world for a purpose, and that purpose was to die finally like a criminal. He came to overcome death with life. He was tremendously humble and even concerned for the eternal destiny of his enemies. He prayed for them when they took him up a hillside to nail him to a wooden cross; all my deepest feelings were roused in sympathy for the meek sufferer, and in disgust and bewilderment with my own people. How could they do such a thing! It was their fault that heavy nails were hammered through these hands which only had done kind deeds and blessed so many. How could he endure such pain; his body hanging there, his feet pierced as well, and his poor arms almost pulled out of their sockets by the weight of his body. No death in the bible was described so fully. This faultless being; this godly prophet. His own people had wanted it, my people. Why? Surely all these followers could have stood by him! In the end all had left him to go the last bit of the road alone! His mother stood and watched it all. How could she have done it? She stood by to watch with him, to comfort him by her presence, to let him feel that he wasn’t alone. Incredibly, too, he was concerned for her. He had said to one of his friends, "son, see your mother". He wanted him to take care of her, and for her to have someone to take care of. How considerate of him to arrange comfort and friendship for those he had to leave. He was no coward; he even prayed for those who hated him. When one of the occupants of the other crosses asked him very sincerely if he would remember him when he reached the kingdom he was talking about, Jesus told him that today he would be with him in paradise! What a magnificent statement! Did these people standing around still not realise that his Jesus was no ordinary human being? That he was God’s son?

After being freed by the Americans Johanna-Ruth is baptised.

No, I had no qualms about my baptism tomorrow. I joyously looked forward to this high honour and privilege to confess him openly as my Lord and my master. At ten minutes to ten I presented myself in the vestry. Did I need any encouragement? No, I felt so wonderfully happy and privileged as if I was walking through the gates of heaven itself. The Minister called my name. I felt alone but uplifted and strangely drawn to Christ. Humbly I knelt, and closing my eyes I experienced a high and holy moment indeed. God had placed his hand upon me and he seemed to assure me "I shall not leave you comfortless, I will come to you" (John 14.18). He had come to take the place of my own dead father*. Till this day he has acted as such.

The Minister’s voice broke through my thoughts, "Johanna-Ruth Dobschiner, I baptise you in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen." I felt the cold water make the shape of a cross on the forehead, and I heard the congregation singing the Aaronic Blessing from numbers 6, verses 24 to 26, "The Lord bless thee and keep thee, the Lord make his face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee, the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace, Amen". I returned to my seat. I could feel the everlasting invisible mark on my forehead. Whatever the future may hold for me, I knew that I would walk in God’s hand.

*killed by the Germans

Johanna-Ruth attends her first Holy Communion.

The Church looked more awesome than usual. The pews were packed. At the front was a long table containing the bread and wine. Carefully I listened to all the minister had to say. Lifting the communion cup with the wine he blessed it, and explained that it reminded us of Christ’s blood which was shed for our sins. When he broke the bread, he said it was to remind us of Christ’s body, broken for us for the remission of our sins.

Christ’s body, Christ’s blood! It was cruel that he had to endure all that for us. What hardship and loneliness he must have experienced! The physical pain, these rusty nails and a crown made of thorns, must have been terrible. How could the people have been so cruel to one who was only love, goodness, kindness, gentleness and purity? Probably because the light of his life showed up the black evil in their lives. That must have been why they put him to death. Evil hates kindness. Darkness hates light. It has been so from time immemorial. It will always be like that until Christ returns, to reign forever.

The plate of bread cubes came my way. I put one gently in my mouth. Poor Christ, his body broken, broken for us, for me. Now his risen presence came to feed us all. I bowed my head. Thank you, Lord! Abide in me forever, I prayed.

Johanna-Ruth’s uncle Bas is killed by the Germans

Yes, dear child, the rumours you have heard are really true. They have shot our dear Uncle Bas. "That body of Uncle Bas! What wear and tear it had endured! At last it is at rest. But his burning spirit is alive. I believe that he is very close, inspiring me to continue his work." They took him from prison in Amsterdam for something he knew nothing about, and shot him. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends". There is no greater love available than this. The highest degree of love is sacrifice. Would I ever be capable of true love, selfless love, which entails true sacrifice? I was convinced that sacrifice like this would be possible in times of peace. Sacrifice does not involve big heroic acts only, but can be called for in day to day living. "Lord make me worthy of such sacrifice, privileged to live at such cost". This was my prayer.

Johanna-Ruth returns to her former home.

(All her relations had been murdered by the Germans)

Here it was, my home....I stood long and silently, with all my memories before me. My eyes saw father, mother, the boys, Uncle Michael, Edith, Ruth.... I wasn’t among them, I was only an onlooker. I saw them going up and down those terraced steps. Would anyone lift those curtains? Who would look down? I’d often been called for dinner while playing here on my bicycle or with conkers. But these weren’t our curtains? "Oh Johanna, don’t give in", I encouraged myself; "look up, not just to those windows, look higher, higher!" "I will life up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help" (Psa. 121.1)

My times are in thy hand,

Why should I doubt or fear,

My father’s hand will never cause

His child a needless tear.

My times are in thy hand! Let it be so! I’ll get nowhere without thee, oh Lord, and life isn’t worth living without thee either. I’ve put my hand to the plough, I won’t look back! I am determined to trust thee implicitly. I’ve proved thee faithful, Lord, and believe entirely that thou art the Immanuel, God with us! In life, with all its ups and downs. Only eternity will reveal the complete truth to us, but I do believe. Thou art Immanuel!

Jesus, I fain would find

Thy zeal for God in me,

Thy yearning pity for mankind,

Thy burning charity

In me thy spirit dwell;

In me thy mercies move:

So shall the fervour of my zeal

Be the pure flame of love.

Charles Wesley, 1707 – 88

2 Corinthians chapter 6. (verses 3 to 10)

Paul gives an account of his hardships

We do nothing that people might object to, so as not to bring discredit on our function as God’s servants. Instead, we prove we are servants of God by great fortitude in times of suffering: in times of hardship and distress; when we are flogged or sent to prison, or mobbed; labouring, sleepless, starving. We prove we are God’s servants by our purity, knowledge, patience and kindness; by a spirit of holiness, by a love free from affectation; by the word of truth and by the power of God; by being armed with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; prepared for honour or disgrace, for blame or praise; taken for impostors while we are genuine; obscure yet famous; said to be dying and here we are alive; rumoured to be executed before we are sentenced; thought most miserable and yet we are always rejoicing; taken for paupers though we make others rich; for people having nothing though we have everything.

Sent by Doris 26 May 1976

Love brings out the best in us, it lifts us from the groove of selfishness and self-absorption, it has the power to move – the hardened heart, and gives a meaning to this crazy life be it love of brother, husband, sister, friend or wife.

Much we have to learn of love, it teaches us to share, to sacrifice, to sympathise, to give and to forbear – without it man would soon be a dull and soulless clod, cherish this most precious thing, for it is the gift of God.

Jesus teaches in the temple.

‘Yes, you know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of myself; No, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me’.

We cannot hope to have on this earth all we desire, through suffering the soul is born, and faith tried in the fire, God’s secrets are too wonderful for us to understand, but this we know; that joy and grief walk hand in hand.

The Church’s one foundation

Is Jesus Christ her Lord;

She is his new creation

By water and the word;

From heaven he came and sought her

To be his holy bridge;

With his own blood he bought her

And for her life he died.

Elect from every nation,

Yet one o’er all the earth,

Her charter of salvation

One Lord, one faith, one birth,

One holy name she blesses,

Partakes one holy food,

And to one hope she presses,

With every grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder

Men see her sore oppressed,

By schisms rent asunder,

By heresies distressed;

Yet saints their watch are keeping,

Their cry goes up: How long?

And soon the night of weeping

Shall be the morn of song.

Mid toil and tribulation,

And tumult of her war,

She waits the consummation

Of peace for evermore,

Till with the vision glorious

Her longing eyes are blest,

And the great church victorious

Shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union

With God the three in one,

And mystic sweet communion

With those whose rest if won.

O happy ones and holy!

Lord, give us grace that we,

Like them the meek and lowly,

On high may dwell with thee.







Samuel John Stone

1839 - 1900

Only a few of you, my brothers, should be teachers, bearing in mind that those of us who teach can expect a stricter judgement.

The letter of James Chap 3.V1.

Jesus of Nazareth

The world becomes alive and is immediately present in the story of Jesus, as told by the writers of the Gospels. All the people who encounter Jesus bear the stamp of this world: The priest and the scribe, the Pharisee and the Publican, the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick, the righteous and the sinner. They appear in the story in a matter-of-fact and simple fashion, chosen at random and of great variety, and appearing in no particular order. Yet all the characters, however great their diversity, present a very human appearance. In their encounter with Jesus – whatever they experience in this encounter and whatever their attitude towards it – they come to this amazing event, their meeting with Jesus, as fully real people.

Jesus belongs to this world. Yet in the midst of it he is of unmistakeable otherness. This is the secret of his influence and his rejection. He is a prophet of the coming kingdom of God. Yet he is in no way completely contained in this category and differs from the customary ways of a prophet.

This Rabbi (Jesus) differs considerably from the other members of his class. Even external facts reveal this difference. Jesus teaches not only in the synagogues, but also in the open field, on the shores of the lake, during his wanderings. And his followers are a strange mixture. There are even among them those people whom an official Rabbi would do his best to avoid. Women and children, tax collectors and sinners. Above all, his manner of teaching differs profoundly from that of the other Rabbis. The reality of and authority of his will are always directly present, and are fulfilled in him. He even dates to confront the literal text of the law with the immediately present will of God. He speaks words of wisdom with the utmost simplicity. In all his utterances Jesus draws into the service of his message the world of nature and the life of man, and those everyday experiences which everyone knows and shares.

Every one of the scenes described in the Gospels reveals Jesus’ astounding sovereignty in dealing with situations according to the kind of people he encounters. This is apparent in the numerous teaching and conflict passages, in which he sees through his opponents, disarms their objections, answers their questions, or forces them to answer for themselves. He can make his opponent open his mouth or he can put him to silence. (Mat 22.v.34). The same can be seen when he encounters those who seek help: Wondrous powers proceed from him, the sick flock around him, their relatives and friends seek his help. Often he fulfils their request, but he can also refuse, or keep the petitioners waiting and put them to the test. Not infrequently he withdraws himself (Mark 1.v.35), but, on the other hand, he is often ready and on the spot sooner than the sufferers dare hope (Mat 8.v.5, Luke 19.v1.), and he freely breaks through the strict boundaries which traditions and prejudices had set up. Similar characteristics can be seen in his dealings with his disciples. He calls them with the command of the master (Mark 1. V16), but he also warns and discourages them from their discipleship (Luke 9.v.57, Luke 14. v.28). Again and again his behaviour and method are in sharp contrast to what people expect of him and what, from their own point of view, they hope for. He withdraws from the people, as John reports, when he is to be made King (John 6. v.15). In his encounters with others we see time and again that he knows men and uncovers their thoughts, a feature which the Gospels have frequently elaborated to the point of the miraculous. The two sons of Zebedee meet with this quality when Jesus turns down their ambitious desires (Mark 10.v.35). Peter experiences it when, in answer to his confession of the Messiah, he is given Jesus’ words about the suffering of the son of man, and when, wanting to make Jesus forsake his path, he gives the sharp retort: "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men" (Mark 8. 27 – 33). The same is expressed by the scenes which describe Peter’s denial (Mark 14.v.29), and the betrayal of Judas (Mark.14. v.17). It is important to note that in all of these instances the same feature recurs, by which the historical Jesus can be recognised.

The Gospels call the immediacy of Jesus’ sovereign power his "authority". They apply this word to his teaching: "They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority and not as the scribes". (Mark 1. v.22, Mat 7. v.29). They also use it for the power of his healing word (Mat. 8. v.5). In his encounters with the most different people, Jesus’ "authority" is always immediately and authentically present. But the people to whom he talks and with whom he deals are also there, undisguised and real. They all contribute something towards the encounter with him. The righteous contribute their righteousness, the scribes the weight of their doctrine and arguments, the tax collectors and sinners their guilt, the needy their sickness, the demoniacs the fetters of their obsession and the poor the burden of their poverty. All this is not eradicated or irrelevant, but it does not count in this encounter. This encounter compels everyone to step out of his customary background. This bringing to light of men as they really are takes place in all stories about Jesus. It happens each time, however, simply and as a matter of course, without in any way being forced, without that awkward compulsion towards self-disclosure which is well known from a certain type of later Christian sermon.

Jesus’ aid bears, therefore, the stamp of a genuine involvement and a passionate tackling of the situation, when he is wrathful over the power of disease (Mark 1. v.41) and commands the demons (Mark 1. v.25); but also in the blessing when he calls the children to himself and lays his hands upon them or upon the sick (Mark 10. v.13, 7. v.31).

The authority of Jesus is equally recognisable in his words and in his deeds, also in the consistency with which he sticks at it and keeps on it to the very end; both when he takes up a certain position, contends and helps, and when he withdraws and with-holds himself, not only from his opponents, but also from his followers.

To make the reality of God present: This is the essential mystery of Jesus. This making – present of the reality of God signifies the end of the world in which it takes place. This is why the Scribes and Pharisees are offended: Because they see Jesus’ teaching as a revolutionary attack upon law and tradition. This is why the demons cry out, because they sense and inroad upon their sphere of power "before the time" (mat. 8. v.29). This is why his own people think him mad (Mark 3. v.21). But this is also why the people marvel and the saved praise God.

Extracts from the book "Jesus of Nazareth", by Gunther Bornkamm, Professor of New Testament, University of Heidelberg.

Reflections on the Beatitudes

As Jesus uses the words, poverty and humility have their original meaning. The poor and they that mourn are those who have nothing to expect from the world, but who expect everything from God. They look towards God, and also cast themselves upon God; in their lives and in their attitude they are beggars before God. What unites those addressed in the beatitudes and pronounced blessed, is this, that they are driven to the very end of the world and its possibilities: The poor, who do not fit in to the structure of the world and therefore are rejected by the world; the mourners, for whom the world holds no consolation; the humble, who no longer extract recognition from the world; the hungry and thirsty, who cannot live without the righteousness that God alone can promise and provide in this world. But also the merciful, who without asking about rights, open their hearts to another; the peacemakers, who overcome might and power by reconciliation; the righteous, who are not equal to the evil ways of the world; and finally the persecuted, who with scorn and threat of death, are cast bodily out by the world.

Whenever two or more of us are gathered in his name, there is love.

I hoped that with the brave and strong

My portioned task might lie;

To toil amid the busy throng,

With purpose pure and high:

But God has fixed another part,

And he has fixed it well;

I said so with my breaking heart,

When first this trouble fell.

These weary hours will not be lost,

These days of misery,

These nights of darkness, tempest – tossed,

Can I but turn to thee,

With secret labour to sustain

In patience every blow,

To gather fortitude from pain,

And holiness from woe.

If thou shouldst bring me back to life,

More humble I should be,

More wise, more strengthened for the strife,

More apt to lean on thee;

Should death be standing at the gate,

Thus should I keep my vow;

But, Lord, whatever be my fate,

O let me serve thee now!

This hymn was written by Anne Bronte who died of consumption in Scarborough. She is buried in Scarborough, and to this day, 127 years later, her grave is still full of fresh flowers, and well cared for. The following inscription is on her tombstone.


Lie the remains of

Anne Bronte

Daughter of the

Rev. P. Bronte

Incumbent of Haworth, Yorkshire

She died aged 28

May 28th 1849

Whit Sunday 6th June 1976

O Thou who camest from above

The pure celestial fire to impart

Kindle a flame of sacred love

On the mean altar of my heart!

There let it for thy glory burn

With inextinguishable blaze;

And trembling to its source return,

In humble prayer and fervent praise

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire

To work, and speak, and think for thee;

Still let me guard the holy fire,

And still stir up thy gift in me.

Ready for all thy perfect will,

My acts of faith and love repeat,

Till death thy endless mercies seal,

And make the sacrifice complete.

Charles Wesley, 1707 – 88

Jesus said. (To his disciples)

John 14 (v.26):- But your counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

The Acts of the Apostles. (Chapter 2. Verses 1 to 4)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a violent wind, the noise of which filled the whole house where they were sitting; and there appeared to them tongues like flames of fire that came to rest on each of them, and they were all filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The world of Jesus

In the fourth century B.C., the teachings of Plato and Aristotle gave philosophy a new surge of life; and this philosophy was the dominating factor in the Greek – Roman civilization, bringing enlightenment, tolerance and moderation.

During the time of Jesus the Jews had become widely scattered amongst the Greek and Roman cities, and the law of the Jewish community was seen as the ideal way of rule by the Greek philosophers; replacing to a large extent the many religions and the numerous Gods that were already in evidence in those countries.

By the third century B.C, the Old Testament had been translated into Greek, and large numbers of Greeks were converted to Judaism.

In Palestine, however, the Old Testament was expounded in Aramaic, and confrontation with Greek thought was avoided, though Greek was used when dealing with their co-religionists from all parts of the then known world.

Later Christianity spread through the Roman Empire as a result of the teaching in the Greek synagogue – communities. It was the entirely new fusion of religion and morality affected in Jesus’ teaching which gave a religious justification to the moral requirements of everyday life. These requirements in themselves were not unknown to Greek – Roman civilization, but, because of this new religious justification, they had an effect in the life of the Christian congregations which made a deep impression on the surrounding world.

The letter of Paul to the church of Rome (Chap 1. v.1 to 17)

Paul a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God, the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his son, who through the spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:-

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s longing to visit Rome

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the Gospel of his son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the Gospel also to you who are at Rome.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Romans (Chap 5)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

The Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes, of the Bible

The Sadducees:- were an older party than the Pharisees, and probably originated in the time of Solomon. They recognized the written law as binding, but were reserved as regards to oral traditions. They denied the immortality of the soul and did not believe in the reward of good deeds and punishment of bad deeds after death. They believed neither in the resurrection of the dead, nor in Angelic beings of spirits, nor in predestination. Their thinking was realistically sober. They were the part of the rich, of the chief priests, the landed nobility and the property owners, and were conservative in outlook. To preserve their property and influence, they pursued a policy of accommodation towards foreign powers. They were concerned about the preservation of old traditions, and national institutions. Men were provided by them for the highest offices of Jewish internal Government (High Priests, the supreme council and treasurers). During the Jewish revolt against Rome in A.D.70, the Sadducees waned into insignificance.

The Pharisees:- were known as "the separated ones" because they kept away from any who were ritually unclean. They came from the class of craftsmen. They were devoted to the study of the Torah (the law of God in the Scriptures, which was the basic law of the community). Mostly they earned their living in various poorly paid jobs, but they produced scholars who were listened to and respected because of their learning, and not because of their birth. The leaders of the Pharisees (later called Rabbis), taught in the synagogues, and founded houses of learning. They originated in 2 B.C., and under Herod they lost their influence in the affairs of Government, but considerably increased their following. At the time of Jesus they were the biggest grouping of Jews in the country, but formed only a minority in the supreme council. Jesus was closer to the Pharisees than to any other sect of the time. They believed in spirits and angels and the resurrection of the body. They believed that what happens in the world stands under God’s sway, but the choice of deciding between good and evil rests with man. They also believed in a judgement of the righteous and sinners, and retribution after death. They preached penitence and repentance of sin as a way of bringing in the kingdom of God. Paul was a Pharisee.

Scribes:- were sympathetic to the Pharisees, and were legal experts. The name Scribe was the title of an office and belonged to those who were versed in the law of the land. They deeply studied the Torah for professional interest.

The Temple in Jerusalem

Built by Herod it was begun in 20 B.C. and was ready for consecration after 10 years’ labour. But it was not completed until A.D. 64, shortly before the revolt against the Romans in A.D. 70. After the temple was destroyed by the Romans and Jerusalem fell, the wailing wall of the temple was left standing, and was the place where the Jews were allowed to bewail the loss of the temple. Behind the outer barrier of the temple, beyond which neither the Gentiles nor the Roman occupation forces were allowed, was the inner court. Jewish women were allowed to enter its eastern part, but the western part was reserved for male Jews alone; for only they could take part in the cult. In front of the temple stood the altar of burnt offerings; inside was the golden altar of incense, the seven branched candlestick which was always kept alight, and the table of the showbread on which twelve new leaves were laid each Sabbath. The holy of holies, which was separated from the rest of the temple by thick curtains, could be entered only by the high priest when he was to perform the act of expiation for Israel on the Day of Atonement. The ark of the covenant, which had once stood on this spot in the temple of Solomon, had been lost when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C., when the temple was rebuilt two generations later, this spot was left empty. So from that day forward the blood of the goat, which was sacrificed by the high priest on the great Day of Atonement for the sins of Israel, was sprinkled over a stone on which the ark had once stood, instead of over the ark itself. Every day an incense offering was burnt in the temple and an unblemished one-year-old lamb sacrificed on the great altar of burnt offerings. Since pilgrims, who often came long distances, were unable to bring with them an animal for sacrifice, facilities were provided in the forecourt of the temple where they could buy an unblemished animal. This business gave rise to all sorts of trading, particularly since the Jews also had to change their money here into Tyrian coinage, which was the traditional currency of the temple. On the great festivals – Passover in Spring, Pentecost seven weeks later, then Tabernacles and The Day of Atonement in autumn – the city was packed with crowds of the faithfully who had come to pray (exceeding 25,000). In the Spring of A.D. 70 (Passover) the crowds were surprised by the Roman troops, and bitter fighting ensued right into the temple area, but eventually the building went up in flames and Judaism lost its visible centre in the world. But it managed to survive this frightful catastrophe and continues its existence to the present day.

The Synagogues

The first definite evidence for Jewish synagogues comes from the 3rd century B.C. They existed in every place where Jews were living; and in larger cities such as Jerusalem, Rome, Alexandria or Antioch. There were several synagogues where services were held and the law was studied and the children given instruction. Throughout the Roman empire the synagogue enjoyed official recognition and civil protection. The administration of the external affairs of a synagogue was in the hands of a committee of three members. The leadership was vested in the president who was responsible for the regular ordering of the services. He was assisted by the attendant who had to carry out the administration of scourging to anyone who had violated the law. At the entrance stood jars of water, so that everyone going into the synagogue could carry out the ritual cleansing. The scrolls stood in a niche and were brought out at worship. At least ten men had to be present before a service could begin. Like any other Jew, Jesus was free to take the floor in the synagogue and speak to the congregation. In St Luke’s gospel we are told that in his home town of Nazareth, Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him, and from it he read from chapter 61. Verses 1 and 2:- "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord". To the great amazement of his hearers, the sermon which Jesus then added consisted of only one sentence: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing".

The rights which the synagogue enjoyed in the Roman Empire remained intact, even after the Jewish war; and many Gentiles were so impressed by the simple services that they gathered in the synagogues, and were admitted into the congregations.

We think sometimes that at least we have a claim on God’s forgiveness. This is a mistake. Jesus’ message is: God will forgive. We are right to expect it, though we have no right to expect it. No right, that is, in the sense of a legal claim. This has its parallel in everyday experience, as Jesus said, for we, like children with a fond father, know for certain that we will be forgiven, though we know with equal certainty that we have no claim to forgiveness. It will be granted because God is good, not because we are good. It is God who loves us first and enables us to be good. When a sinner cries out to God for mercy, God has ‘already’ shown it to him and he is reborn. We are forgiven, not because we are worthy of forgiveness, but because, through God’s grace, we accept the forgiveness of which we never can be worthy. Were it otherwise, forgiveness would not be an act of grace at all, but something earned. We would have no need of Christ.

Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights.

R.G. Ingersoll

1833 – 1899

Jesus said:-

"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God".

Jewish Feasts

The feasts are to commemorate various events in the history of Yahweh’s dealings with his people.

The Feast of the Passover:- takes place in the Spring and is in remembrance of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Unleavened bread is eaten because there was no time at the exodus to wait for the dough to be leavened.

The Feast of Weeks:- commemorates the making of the covenant on Sinai. Bitter herbs are eaten because the Egyptians had made life bitter for the Israelites forefathers.

The Feast of Tabernacles:- takes place in the autumn and is to remind the Jewish people that their forefathers had to live in booths which they had to build on their journey through the wilderness. Booths are built and lived in during the feast.

The quiet man of Nazareth

A quiet man was he,

In a quiet country place.

He lived so very quietly,

The saviour of the race.

A quiet man with wood,

His town had a quiet air.

It was well known that nothing good

Had ever come from there.

A quiet man he died,

Breathed a last, deep, quiet breath.

He should have stayed at home, they sighed,

In quiet Nazareth.




The mourners came at break of day,

Unto the garden-sepulchre,

With darkened hearts to weep and pray

For him, the loved one buried there.

What radiant light dispels the gloom?

An angel sits beside the tomb.


Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all


Psalm 34.v.19

Let no man’s thoughts be ruled by death.

(Thomas Mann)

A Jewish Child

He was a Jewish child,

He had a Jewish nose,

He read the Jewish bible

And wore all Jewish clothes.

He kept the Jewish law

With Jewish thoroughness,

His Jewish manna wouldn’t let

Her Jewish boy do less.

He loved the Jewish feasts,

The Jewish temple too,

He prayed the Jewish Psalter,

A proud and Jewish Jew.

The father who cares

Chirruping birds God feeds,

He sees their needs.

He watches when they fall,

He knows them all.

Lilies more beauty don

Than Solomon.

Men good and bad obtain

Bright sun, sweet rain


Out of love God bids the sinner turn and live,

But he must play his part.

Even God all merciful cannot forgive

The unforgiving heart.


Was he like us?

He learned as other children learn

That knives are sharp and fire will burn,

He learned to talk then sing a song

Learned right from left and right from wrong

One day he would be wise and good,

But this took time, as well it should.

He did not want it sooner than

The time it takes to make a man

Jesus’ death and resurrection

If he died but did not rise,

Speak to me not of triumph but disaster.

If he rose but did not die,

Worship with me a ghost but not our master.

The authentic marks of Jesus’ humanity are not found in his physical appearance or in his susceptibility to hunger, thirst, or weariness... (but) in his consciousness. Unless he had a human consciousness, he was not a man. If he did not think and feel, about himself and others, as a man does; if he did not take man’s lot for granted as being intimately, entirely, and irrevocably his own; if he did not share, at the very deepest levels of his conscious and subconscious life, in our human anxieties, perplexities, and loneliness; if his joys were not characteristic human joys and his hopes, human hopes; if his knowledge of God was not in every part and under every aspect the kind of knowledge which it is given to man, the creature, to have – then he was not a true human being, he was not made man.

Can we imagine Jesus saying to himself, ‘I am not a man’, or asking himself, ‘am I a man?’, any more than we can imagine our entertaining such thoughts about ourselves?...He must have learned as we learn and have grown as we grow. His joys must have been human joys and his sorrows the immemorial sorrows of men like ourselves. He must have known loneliness, frustration, anxiety, just as we do. He must have felt temptations to doubt and fear. He would have loved others in the way men love their fellows – more, we shall say, but not differently. He, too, would have shrunk from death, the breaking of familiar ties with beloved things. His knowledge of God, for all its sureness and its peculiar intimacy, would have been the kind of knowledge it is given men to have of their creator and father. If all this were not true, would we be able to say that he was truly man? For the real marks of a man are not his shape and appearance, or the way he walks, but the way he feels and thinks in his heart, the way he knows himself, others, and God.

John Knox

As Jesus grew up he advanced in wisdom and in favour with God and men.

Luke 2.v.52

Jesus as man

His goodness was something he had to fight for. He was tried and tempted as any man. He suffered, not simply because he was already good, but to prove his goodness as we all need to do. This was the overwhelming impression Jesus made on his followers: He went about doing good. When they first came into contact with him, they met a completely mature, loving, selfless human being, someone who was empty of vanity and full of God, someone whom it made sense to follow when he preached the kingdom because the kingdom had taken possession of him. He was a worthy spokesman (or Prophet) of God’s word. No one could convict him of sin. He did not belong to the world of darkness: He was all light.

Jesus cries from the cross

"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mat. 27. V.46.)

The sinless sufferer on the cross, in his oneness with his brethren, felt their wrong-doing as his own, confessed in his forsakenness that God would have nothing to do with it save destroy it, felt that it separated between men and God, and that he was actually away from God...that he was his recoil and quiver should still have loved us so intensely that, when he felt the gulf fixed between God and sinners, he thought himself on our side of the breach and numbered himself with the transgressors – that is the marvel.

This is the essential significance of Jesus undergoing the baptism of repentance. He is one with sinners. It is because he is so good and loving that he is strong enough to stand on our side of the divide.

When Jesus emerged from the desert, his main task in life loomed ahead of him: To preach the kingdom of God, with what results he was not immediately able to see. One thing he was determined on: He would be God’s servant, his true obedient son, even if, at the end of the road, suffering and death awaited him.

Luke 10. Verses 23 and 24:- Jesus intimates that he is the Messiah.

"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and Kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it; to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."

The Lord’s Prayer

God’s name must be hallowed; his rule must hold sway over the heart, and his will be done; all anxiety must be laid aside and absolute trust be put in God who will provide for us; we must be forgiving as God is, and trust him in all adversity. The demands of God’s kingdom are absolute.

Pass me not, O gentle saviour,

Hear my humble cry;

While on others thou art calling,

Do not pass me by.

Let me at a throne of mercy

Find a sweet relief;

Kneeling there in deep contrition,

Help my unbelief.

Trusting only in thy merit,

Would I seek thy face;

Heal my wounded, broken spirit,

Save me by thy grace.

Thou the spring of all my comfort,

More than life to me,

Whom have I on earth beside thee?

Whom in heaven but thee?

Frances Jane van Alstyne, 1820 – 1915

Extracts from "Jesus who became Christ" (A truly great book)

(By Peter de Rosa – Author, vice-principal and senior lecturer in theology at Corpus Christi College, London. The international institute for religious education.)

Jesus a man; a first century Jewish layman. He became Christ. How can he have anything to say to us? What is Christ for us today? The answers to these questions must change as the ever-renewed fashions in theology demonstrate.

As our knowledge of all things increases and our technology advances, and scientists probe deeper into the unknown; so it is with theology, we need to make sense of the past just as, by organizing our sensible impressions, we make sense of our present experience. It is essential to ensure that what happened once upon a time is of significance today. We need to know not only what was said in the past, but what they would have said had they been alive today in answer to our problems. Only when we know this are we in touch with the situation as it is today.

Is there a special form of the Gospels? Have the Evangelists deliberately set out, before everything else, to influence us, to guide our reading by telling us what the nature of their story is? The answer to both these questions is yes. Mark tells us in the very first sentence; "This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ". Unless we realize this we will misread their writings; every sentence of them. The Gospel story is foreknown to be consummated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is to say it has no end. It is the proclamation of the presence of Jesus alive in the midst of this believing community that continues to live by him. The resurrection conditions the way the Evangelists relate everything; hence it conditions the way they want us to respond to everything they tell us. They aim, above all else, to evoke faith in us and to guide the exercise of faith. The Gospels are a written proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Everything sub serves this end: To give testimony that Jesus of Nazareth was truly from God and that God has raised him from the dead.

The Gospels are documents of faith, they were written long after the death of Jesus because it was the resurrection that made the disciples grasp what ‘the facts’ really were: God had all the time been at work in him in ways that they now began to marvel at. They had possessed eyes but they had not seen. The resurrection meant that it was not too late for them to see for the first time. Earlier they had been faithless; earlier, therefore, they had been untrue to Jesus. Now they had found faith. They will scrutinize everything he said and did, everything he hinted at, all the testimony that the Old Testament gave to him. Out of all this will be woven, in a most creative way the Gospels: The primary documents of the Christian faith.

The Gospels are a supreme example of the expressly acknowledged involvement of the early Christian community in the process of judging Jesus, of interpreting everything he said and did after he was ‘unmasked’ or detected as the Christ. With all the imagination and creative flair they had at their disposal, they brought the past of Jesus’ life up to date, in the light of Easter faith, as the permanently saving word and deed of the Christ of God.

The kingdom of Jesus’ preaching consists of a new relationship now made possible between God and man, a relationship which brings with it immeasurable joy. This kingdom is characterized by meekness, mercy, poverty, purity of heart, and forgiveness of enemies. Those entering the kingdom may have enemies, but they are enemies to no one. They must be a neighbour to everyone, even to their enemies. They who are subject to the rule of God are anxious, not about this world’s goods, but only about doing God’s will. God’s will comes first, and everything else follows from that. A man must abandon his piety. The kingdom takes priority over the rigorous keeping of the laws. A child is the image of one who enters the kingdom; he knows he has earned nothing: He accepts what is offered him with simple gratitude.

Jesus teaches that whoever wants to enter the kingdom must make a dramatic and far-reaching decision. The new law for the imminent kingdom is a law of love. Only the Gospel of love and not a series of enactments and prohibitions can lead to the fulfilling of the law. Jesus aims to bring about a complete reformation of the inner man, a renewal of the heart. The whole Gospel must be preached to everyone. We must not hide the Christian ethic on the plea that the Gospel’s demands are too difficult or unrealistic.

Jesus demands of everyone who wishes to be his disciple and to enter the kingdom, a radical conversion or change of heart. Entrance into the kingdom depends upon a man renouncing everything for its sake. So great is the joy he experiences on finding it that he gives up everything to make the purchase.

Jesus was trying to evoke this radical decision in all his hearers all through his ministry and he was satisfied with nothing less. The kingdom of God was already in process of coming, and a person had to respond to him by becoming absolutely poor and chaste and meek. Any disciple of his had to show an absolute generosity, self-denial and willingness to forgive, a love which embraces everyone, even enemies, and especially the despised and the outcasts. Christ’s disciples must be like their master and take up their cross; they must be prepared to endure every form of (contumely) (disgraceful treatment), and insult on the way to crucifixion.

In the Gospels, there are not two standards but one: The ideal standard of the kingdom. There are no first – and second – class travellers on the journey to God: All of us must strive to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. If we are to be faithful to the new age that breaks into the world with the coming and consummating death of Christ. The Gospel insists that we should all leave everything, sell everything, give everything, and obey in everything for the sake of the kingdom. Any lesser standard is a refusal of Christ, a refusal to be like God.

According to Jesus, no law can fulfil the demands of love, but love can fulfil the demands of law unthinkingly and with relish because the love is essentially free. And love can reach the heights and the depths where law cannot gain a foothold. It is not possible, Jesus realized, to save mankind by forcing them to keep laws. By stressing law, the law is probably not kept. It is by emphasizing not law but love that we receive the strength from God to keep the law.

"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". The demand is unconditional; it is made of everyone all the time.

Jesus was against those who used religious practices to cover up the uncleanness of their hearts. His denunciation of the Jewish leaders and priests was long and vehement. This was because they were totally opposed to the gospel of grace. They rejected the image of God as love and forgiveness to which Jesus committed himself when he offered pardon to the poor and the despised.

The Scribes and Pharisees, so scrupulous in their religious observances, neglected justice and mercy and faith; they spotted the splinter in their neighbour’s eye and could not see the plank in their own. It was to such people that the outcast Christ said: "The tax-collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom before you".

Jesus’ image of God is as "The father who cares". Keeping in mind God’s care for us, we ought to live blissfully and without anxiety. The person who is anxious about tomorrow loses the joy of living today. We are forbidden by Jesus to live in tomorrow. We must live now, always and only now. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Of course, we must plan for tomorrow, but only on condition that we don’t stop living today. If we seek first of all the kingdom of God our Father, everything else will be ours as well; we will be really rich. We must pray for everything we need in secret to our Father who sees in secret. We must pray unceasingly but without anxiety, he will take care of us, knowing as he does all our needs. The secret Father-God is always there. He rewards us secretly with his love. If we ask him, he gives us the Holy Spirit to speak through us. This Father-God reveals to us a secret wisdom which the "wise and understanding" do not even suspect.

Such is the serenity of the teaching of Christ. The world has found it too soul-searing and too revolutionary, which is perhaps why it has seldom been tried.

Be merciful, says Jesus, because you have received mercy. Forgive because you have been forgiven by God your Father. We will be treated as we treat others. We will be examined – sentenced or acquitted – by the same criteria we have applied to our fellows.

In Mark, the earliest Gospel, Jesus says to God in the hour of his agony: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what will, but what thou wilt" (14.v36).

Almost all we know about Jesus is summed up in this moment. So close is he to God he says, "Abba, Father". His confidence in God is absolute. He feels that if he appeals to God, he will send him twelve legions of angels – enough to conquer empires. But a son must be obedient to his father’s will and Jesus had a profound awareness of God as holy and good. He came to share with us the relationship in which he stood to God, the relationship of son to father.

Christian faith is a giving of oneself to Jesus crucified and living. It entails commitment to Jesus, not simply as the one who preached the kingdom, but as the one in whom the kingdom has come. The primary confession of Christian faith is: Jesus is not dead but the living Lord. In the Christian belief a man sees God and his will for him. In this light, he is able to find his way in this ambiguous (doubtful uncertain) and often frightening world. Only when we commit ourselves to Christ, do we find his word is true and his power to heal is a power over us. By his word, we come alive today; by his power that reaches into the heart, we undergo a lasting, spiritual reformation. Jesus gave sight to the blind; hearing to the deaf, healing to the possessed as signs that God’s kingdom was in process of coming. The meek and humble of heart were able to read the signs correctly.

Miracles are there as part of the Gospel in which God’s glory is manifest, a glory which we can share today. They are written down so that we can test for ourselves that what they say is true: Jesus crucified and living is the life, the light, the health, the joy of all the world.

People need to be practically convinced that the resurrection is continuing every moment. Jesus is, as it were, always dead and awaiting resurrection in us. He rises not once but every day like the sun. He is resurrected in us or he lies cold in the tomb of our hearts. Will we give Jesus new life? Will we show forth his glory today? Will we carry on his healing activity wherever we go? These are the questions provoked in us by the timeless, Christian Gospel.

Without his disciples, Jesus is powerless and faceless, a beautiful corpse. An empty tomb holds little interest for people nowadays. They are far more interested in split atoms than in empty tombs; in spacemen up there, rather than in Christ who is up there or out there – somewhere else, anywhere, but not here.

Jesus is alive in us. He will be among us wherever two or three are gathered in his name. He is here in the interchange of love between people, in the hope we inspire, in the joy we bestow. The Christian community exists only to show forth his love, his sensitiveness and concern, his longing for his Father’s glory.

Whenever Christ’s work is done, whenever someone is recovered from despair or cared for and loved, Christ is risen and we can sing our alleluias.

Jesus was an extraordinary human being, full of God. He did work wonders through the faith he evoked. But the first question posed by the miracles is this. Is the living Christ still working in us what those miracles signify? Are we ourselves in Christ’s name, miracle-workers? Can we work real miracles? When a disciple of Christ holds out the hand of true friendship to a stranger, the withered hand is healed. When he gives someone a reason for living when he had none before, or when he so demonstrates the power of Christ’s spirit that someone believes, then he has raised the dead. When someone is an outcast, and Christ’s disciple brings him ‘home to the human race’, he has healed the leper. God’s rule is thereby extended.

The living Christ makes a promise – that his followers will do greater works than he did. Having passed over to the Father, Jesus sends his spirit on us. If to belong to the kingdom is to participate in the new life consequent upon the overthrow of sin and death, then, in the name of Jesus risen, his disciples are able to offer this life, victory and healing to others.

Jesus spoke in parables, these parables were something entirely new. In all the rabbinic literature, not one single parable has come down to us in the period before Jesus.

Jesus did not use examples, as other Rabbis, to illustrate his teaching; his parables were his teaching. They do not simply enlighten the mind; they demand involvement and response. Jesus listeners become part of the parable. By making the correct response, they gain entrance into the kingdom.

Jesus came to shatter the comfortable life that people had built for themselves on the foundations of their own achievements, and to replace it with the new life of the kingdom. A teacher a saint of extraordinary quality, he naturally met with tremendous opposition. In the face of this opposition, he went on preaching, without wavering, the message of divine forgiveness which he himself embodied in his pursuit of the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

We know a very great deal about Jesus of Nazareth who became Christ. Apart from the essential facts of his life – that he was baptized by John worked wonders, preached God’s kingdom, spoke in parables, acted out a great deal of his teaching in symbolic actions like the cleansing of the temple suffered and died on the cross – we know him as a distinctive individual. He was, above all, a man who felt himself to be in a position of such unique intimacy with God that he dared to address God as ‘Abba, my Father’. He fostered this intimacy in a life of continual prayer.

Jesus preached the kingdom. But the kingdom (or rule) of God was not something from which he himself could be detached. Through his own words and wonderful deeds the kingdom was in the process of drawing near. Here is a man so close to God that he is doing, on God’s behalf, the most important thing his race had ever been called to do. Naturally, as a Jew Jesus could not imagine anything more important, than what was to be accomplished by his own people, God’s elect. When, in John’s Gospel, Jesus preaches not God’s kingdom but himself as the resurrection and the life, as the source of eternal life to all who come to him, we see this as a legitimate extension of Jesus’ own preaching. Jesus was quite clearly conscious of his oneness with God and of the identification of his work with God’s work.

Strengthened by his intimate communion with God, Jesus spoke with a sovereign authority that Moses himself, the most renowned leader in Jewish history, could not equal. The Scribes and Pharisees were certainly no match for him. Jesus was a man completely sure of himself because he never doubted his loving relationship to God his Father.

A man of God, he attached, often with deep irony and prophetic vehemence, the inhuman, legalistic system which was frustrating the word of God. The law, intended to express the saving will of God and to set men free, was at that time being used by lawyers to undermine the prophetic principles of mercy, justice and truth. So clearly did Jesus perceive the absolute, constantly original demands of God, he insisted that even the Sabbath – most sacred to Jews – had sometimes to be put aside if love was to prevail. In his sense of the priority of human need, in his emphasis on loving care especially for the indigent (poor and needy, we see the figure of a man pre-eminently free and holy.

Jesus, holy and undefiled. This was how his disciples remembered him. He was a man who could not be deflected by so much as an inch from the sacred will of God. And, strangely, while he was undefiled himself, his single aim in life was to search out sinners. These became his special friends; the prostitutes, the publicans, tax collectors, the lowly. He who lived out the beatitudes of meekness, poverty, purity of heart, never ceased to tell the outlaws of Jewish society that God loved them. He was showing them God’s love in his own loving quest for them. And he ate with them to show in the most vivid way he could the interchange of life he wished for. He who was identified with God in his saving and forgiving love was identified with the poor and the wretched in their misery.

Despite the fact that the Gospels proclaim Jesus as Lord and son of God in power, his sheer humanity – so accessible and so vulnerable – shows through all the time. He was a man of faith, indeed the pioneer of our faith; A man of joy who had given his whole self for the kingdom’s sake.

He was a man of deep insight into human nature. He was a man of such personal attractiveness that people detached themselves from the dramatic figure of the Baptist to follow him. He was always full of peace and confidence in the future. When doubts were cast upon the outcome of his ministry – so narrowly based, it seemed, on a group of fishermen, publicans and prostitutes – Jesus spoke parables of the kingdom’s growth being as certain as that a mustard seed will grow into a big bush, and that a pinch of leaven will ferment a whole mass of dough. Never did Jesus appear to doubt that, though the harvest which is God’s kingdom may take a long time, require immense patience and seem sometimes to be non-existent, it was coming inexorably. Out of small, secret beginnings, God’s glory was in process of being manifested.

Jesus, on occasions, is lonely and surprised. He asks questions to discover things he does not know, and is surprised at some of the replies given him. He is tempted. He fasts and feels hungry. He prays throughout the night. He loves his friends and needs them, especially in times of tiredness and trial. He is courageous and deliberately faces up, (an unknown Galilean with a rough provincial dialect,) to the authorities in Jerusalem. He can be angry and sarcastic as well as bitter. He is disappointed when a trusted friend betrays him. He is terribly afraid and alone in the presence of death. He asks to be released from death if it is possible. But he goes on trusting in God in the immense desolation and darkness that floods his soul. Later, when he was nailed to the cross, we witness a free man whose whole bearing declares, "I lay down my life of myself. No man takes it away from me".

Jesus is not a neutral, anonymous human being, a man whose manhood has been blotted out by Glory. Nor is he, as he is depicted so often academic writings, someone who shares our essence but not our existence; someone who possesses our nature but none of its problems, its history, its experience. He was a man who led a very individual life and was involved in the history of a very individual people, his Jewish brothers.

Jesus’ human personality shines through the Gospels.

His action, his dream of God, his teaching on the kingdom and human brotherhood, make him very real. The essential Jesus is the man who, on being asked, "How often must I forgive, seven times?" replies "No, seventy times seven", that is, times without number. The essential Jesus is the man of whom it makes sense to report that he promised paradise to a dying thief as a reward for one kind word. After all the critical study of Jesus, the more sure we become that here is a real person in history, many-sided, often perplexing, certainly too great to be reduced to any common type, and not fully intelligible to us; but, for all that unmistakeably individual, strongly defined in lines of character and purpose, and challenging us all by a unique outlook on life.

Jesus’ resurrection is not a miraculous proof designed to convince us of Jesus’ divinity. It is the supreme source of life for Jesus, and so for us, too, because he is our wisdom and righteousness before God. Without the resurrection, there would be no Jesus Christ and so no Christianity. Christianity is not a system of ideas or holiness, but fellowship with Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection, there would have been no life for us or in us. Who would preach a glorious but dead Jesus? What life could a corpse communicate? What confidence could we retain in God’s fidelity to his covenant had Jesus remained forever dead? Only the resurrection provides us with the full basis for faith and a satisfactory image of God. Unless Jesus had been raised, we would have lost all confidence in God and ceased to look on him as father.

It is almost impossible to over-emphasize the closeness of Christ’s death and resurrection in the scriptures.

The resurrection does not cancel out or, in any way, annul the cross. It is not as if after Easter we need only preach the resurrection. Without the cross, the resurrection would be a piece of make-believe, an imaginary triumph over sin after an imaginary death. Equally, without the resurrection, the cross is nothing but a ghastly, unredeemed and unredeeming tragedy. In our lives, there is the cross aspect: discipline, self-denial. But we experience at the same time the resurrection, since it is not merely afterwards but in the discipline and self-denial that we can find God, hence life, joy and self-surrender.

Jesus was most true to himself in death when he surrendered himself for our sakes in love to God; and he lives on forever as the obedient son of God. This is what his perpetual stance is. This is his eternal reality in which he is consummated (or made perfect) forever. Belief in Christ’s resurrection is far from being the consequence of scientific investigation. It entails abandoning ourselves to the God of Jesus crucified; and he alone, our father, the God of the living, is able to show us the face of the risen Christ.

God the mystery comes to us through a man, like ourselves in everything except that he did not fail his father. It is dangerous to think in terms of ‘The manhood’ of Jesus being, as it were, inconsequential in comparison with his divinity; rather, Jesus Christ is our meeting point with God. In him, we find God and are reconciled to God. Failure to focus on Jesus of Nazareth who became Christ is a failure to know God.

Holiness is sometimes confused with inhumanness; the ‘supernatural’ as it is called, is expected to be weird, abnormal, and unattractive. Jesus has completely reversed this expectation. The son of God was no different from other men, except he lived human life most humanly, most intensely and most caringly. I return to this basic standpoint: The human and divine in Christ are distinct but do not constitute two. The human in Christ is the divine expressing itself in the only possible way. Jesus is the supreme instance of man being the Lord of creation. Were the divine to express itself in any other way than the human, we who are only human would not be capable of apprehending it.

Christians want to give their whole attention to Christ and his message. He is not any word of God; he is the fulfilment of Israel and God’s decisive word. It is a startling word. It tells of strength in weakness, wisdom in folly success in failure, divine in the human at its most human, redemption through the scandal of the cross, life in death – hence, meaning in everything, even the apparently meaningless.

We centre on God’s vanquishing of death, on Christ’s Passover by means of death to new life. It can be put like this: We focus on Christ’s death only because of the evidence there of a love stronger than death, a love that broke the bonds of death and overcame death’s absurdities.

The Gospel is good news only if it proclaims that death is vanquished. Jesus ultimately proved that he had always relied on God alone, the gracious God, the living God who raises the dead. Jesus went down into the pit (death) where only God can help.

At the crucifixion, God didn’t ‘do anything’; he didn’t step in and put things right. He ‘only’ let himself be found. Jesus shows to Israel and to his church that in the condition of this sinful, fragmented, war-torn world, God’s love often comes in the form of suffering. When suffering is made into a means of expressing love and even joy, it redeems. What Christ guarantees is that God himself can always be found, even in the suffering. This explains why there is not really a ‘problem of evil’ in the New Testament as there was in the old. There is ‘nowhere, where God is not’. This is the sense in which God does not change. He is not the untarnished, imperturbable, stainless steel God of Greek philosophy. Rather, he is unchanging in his covenantal love and fidelity. And he promises to sustain us in all our trials so that in the end we win through.

Christ is the image, the perfect mirror, the complete model of God. He, too, in all his dealings with us and his attitudes towards us is love and forgiveness. His message in word and deed was always that God loves and is gentle towards the sinner who humbly acknowledges his sin. God simply forgives without payment anyone who responds with love to his own unfailing offer of love. How did Jesus come to this startlingly original idea? Jesus did not know it all in advance, as it were. He didn’t come ‘from outside’ with a clear understanding of our problem and a ready-made solution to it. He found God in human need. He perceived God’s will in the response he felt called upon to make to this need. He recognized God as father. He came to this recognition because he took his fellows to his heart as his brethren. He so identified with sinners that he himself experienced God’s gentleness with sinners. God’s graciousness to them was first experienced as graciousness to himself who bore the fate of sinners. Jesus, the reconciled man, the man who did no sin, knew God’s forgiveness best of all because he knew it as God’s forgiveness of himself as our representative.

In death, his love overcame hate and won for him the spirit of love. This spirit he now spreads in the hearts of believers, enabling them to master sin through love and to imitate God as he did.

Faith can be grounded only on Jesus crucified, who is alive by God’s power; and he proves he is alive by enabling us to pass with him from death to life in our day-to-day experience.

The Christian message was first preached in its fullness when a humiliated and humbled Peter saw his crucified Lord looking upon him supportingly, forgivingly, lovingly, as he walked across the sea of death.

The church is not like Christ’s body: It is Christ’s body. Christ exists, but he cannot exist without, or in isolation from his brethren. This is not to say Christ doesn’t really exist or he only exists in the minds and hearts of believers. Paul means that we are necessary to Christ as our bodies are to us; our bodies constitute us. Christ is a member of the human family and therefore, incomplete, a non-entity, without his brethren. Only through them was he able to love and serve God in his lifetime. And God never envisages Christ in isolation from us, or us in isolation from Christ. We are all one in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the solitary isolated grain of wheat that must die in its aloneness; but, once it dies, there is a rich harvest of communion. Once he had passed over to his father he was able to bestow the spirit. For Paul, the resurrection took place when Christ became a living spirit. Now he diffuses his very being among his brethren without restriction. He is powerful. He communicates through his spirit, in ways quite closed to him when he was in the flesh. He is less distant from the world now than he ever was.

We know so little about life with after death that we can do no more than qualify it with predicates that are contrary to those we apply to life now. ‘What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power (1.cor.15:42-3). In other words, Paul knows nothing about what is called ‘The after-life’. He only trusts in God, the giver of life. However, Paul has richer insights to share with us than that.

The body is essentially the principle of relatedness and communion between human beings. To believe after dying must mean that these relationships are not severed but raised to a higher level than before. Christ’s own resurrection showed this. Christ, not distant now but near, not remote in what concerns his followers and needy people, but immediately accessible to everyone. He lives in them all as they live in and by their own bodies. This is to say, they are him. They are his body.

What are the risen Christ proves is that death leads not necessarily to the end of communion but to the restructuring of human relationships. This is why the question, ‘where will the risen bodies be and how will they all fit into heaven?’, is not Paul’s question. In the first place, Paul never says we will go to heaven, but that Christ (heaven) will come to us. Secondly, human relatedness, human bodiliness, will be enhanced, but to ask, ‘where?’, does not make sense. Or, at any rate, all we can do is trust God that we will be embodied in each other just as Christ is embodied in us today. That is quite enough for us.

Hark the glad sound! The saviour comes,

The saviour promised long;

Let every heart prepare a throne,

And every voice a song.

He comes the prisoners to release,

In Satan’s bondage held;

The gates of brass before him burst,

The iron fitters yield.

He comes the broken heart to bind,

The bleeding soul to cure,

And with the treasures of his grace

To enrich the humble poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of peace,

Thy welcome shall proclaim

And heaven’s eternal arches ring

With thy beloved name.

Philip Doddridge 1702 - 51

God, if he is known to exist, can only be known as the one who makes a total difference for us. For he is known as infinitely higher than us, in worth as well as power; and as having so made us that our own final self-fulfilment and happiness are also the fulfilment of his purpose for us. We cannot know that such a being exists and be at the same time indifferent to him. For in knowing him we know ourselves as created and dependent, creatures on the periphery of existence, whose highest good lies in relation to the divine centre of reality.

It was not right that he should appear in a manner manifestly divine and completely capable of convincing all men; but it was also not right that he should come in a manner so hidden that he could not be recognized by those who sincerely seek him. He has willed to make himself perfectly recognizable by those; and thus, willing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart, and hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart; he so arranges the knowledge of himself that he has given signs of himself, visible to those who seek him, and not to those who do not seek him. There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition.

Are we seeking power for power’s sake? Or are we seeking to make the world and our nation better places to live? If we seek the latter, violence can never provide the answer. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Rev. Martin Luther King

It fell upon a summer day,

When Jesus walked in Galilee,

The mothers from a village brought

Their children to his knee.

He took them in his arms, and laid

His hands on each remembered head;

Suffer these little ones to come

To me, he gently said.

Forbid them not; unless ye bear,

The childlike heart your hearts within,

Unto my kingdom ye may come

But may not enter in.

Master, I fain would enter there;

O let me follow thee, and share

Thy meek and lowly heart, and be

Freed from all worldly care.

Of innocence, and love, and trust,

Of quiet work, and simple word,

Of joy, and thoughtlessness of self,

Build up my life, good lord.

All happy thoughts and gentle ways,

And loving – kindness daily given,

And freedom through obedience gained,

Make in my heart thy heaven.

O happy thus to live and move!

And sweet this world where I shall find

God’s beauty everywhere, his love,

His good in all mankind.

Then, father, grant this childlike heart,

That I may come to Christ, and feel

His hands on me in blessing laid,

Love – giving, strong to heal

Stopford Augustus Brooke, 1832 – 1916

Faith flowers in the clear light of love.

St. Anselm’s concept of God

(1033 – 11-0) Archbishop of Canterbury

Something than which nothing greater can be thought. Thus it is forbidden to identify as God any being such that it is conceivable for this being to be surpassed in value. Although the formula "that than which no greater can be conceived" does not tell us what particular qualities must belong to such a being, yet St Anselm believed that the theologian can in fact to some extent describe the divine nature by listing those attributes which it is better to have than to be without. "What goodness, then, could be wanting to the supreme good, through which every good exists? Thus you are just, truthful, happy and whatever it is better to be than not to be – for it is better to be just rather than unjust, and happy rather than unhappy. Indeed the unfolding of the nature of God from the formula by means of an intuitive knowledge of those qualities which it is better to have than to lack, represents the concept as a whole.

Any universe (as distinguished from a chaos) must be orderly and to that extent "as though designed".

We see in nature, mind, arising out of matter (since the human brain is formed within a biological process), as well as matter being ordered by mind.

The Humanist point of view.

The existence of God is only the existence of a modification of consciousness in a fleeting form of organic life on the surface of one of the planets of a small star in one of the many millions of galaxies. The idea of deity is simply an idea in a number of streams of consciousness which are precariously dependent upon fleeting animal organisms. The idea of God is simply a thought or a sentiment in the consciousness excreted by a brief combination of nerve cells.

Peter Howard addresses clergy of all denominations in church house, Westminster (he was a hard-boiled, malicious, journalist who, after interviewing a Christian, moved from agnosticism to faith in Christ, and through personal contact, brought a revival of the spirit to millions of men in five continents. At his death, six cardinals and the leaders of fifteen nations recorded their gratitude for what he had done for them and the world).

“I am a revolutionary. My life does not belong to myself. I have no preconception of any kind, any day for the rest of my life, where I will go, what I will do or will not do, what I will say or not say, I want to be used by God if he will use me.

One of the things so wrong in so many of the Christian forces of today is that we think being nice, kind, sweet and owing allegiance to each other is Christian. I love my wife dearly. I have three children and I love them with all my heart, but none of these people is as important to me as Jesus Christ. He comes first in my life....

In my own life, if I am living straight and the maximum God shows me, people change. If people do not change, there is some sin, definite, concrete, which is preventing that happening around me.

(Note:- The underlined part is very true of myself. I am so made that I find it most difficult to overcome an inability to draw people to God.)

If people in their millions are not being changed and won to the truth of Christ, there is something wrong with the way Christians are living their Christianity. If we really wanted, we could find out what it is. Because the God I worship is a God who speaks.

Not every thought I get in my heart comes directly from God. Many of them do not. But I know from experience that if honestly and without preconception I open my heart to God and say, ‘what do you want me to do?’ then if there is something he wants me to do, he has a way of showing me. God will show us where the sin is if we are not effective. God will give us the answer to it.

I feel myself a man of many frailties and much weakness. I hope that before I die I shall have changed out of all recognition and be wholly different tomorrow from what I am today. Just as indeed I am different today from what I was yesterday.

But I tell you without soap or sentiment that as I begin each day by listening to God, it is a time of enthralment and fascination that I would not miss.

It is like a great shoal of silver fish flashing through your heart and mind – new ideas for people, fresh approaches to problems, deeper insight into the mood of the times, costly, daily, personal decision that is the price of shifting our force and our nation ahead. I try and snatch one or two of those silvery fish as they fly from the mind of God into the mind of men and women and children like ourselves.

Absolute moral standards for those who lack faith may be a good starting point if they wish to play their part with all of us in a revolution that will change this country and the world.

For my part, my life is given – and I mean given – to shifting the whole world to the cross.”

The British labour movement grew up through the nineteenth century with a mainly Christian philosophy.  All could say with Keir Hardie, the founder of the Parliamentary Labour party, “I myself found in the Christianity of Christ the inspiration which first drove me into this movement and which has carried me on in it.”

  Garth Lean

(Anglican and author)

Of Livingstone, H.M. Stanley wrote, “If I had been with him any longer I would have been compelled to become a Christian, and he never spoke to me about it at all”.

There are two revelations in Christianity – the revelation of God and the revelation of ourselves.  No man ever really sees himself until he sees himself in the presence of Christ; and then he is appalled at the sight of himself.

 Professor William Barclay


W. Gibson

If science is known by result – and this is in fact where its certitude rests – so, too, are the truths of religion.  The experimental tests of religion are more delicate and unstable than those of science; for the raw material – the heart of man – has not that implicit obedience to the law of its own nature which is observable in metals of minerals or even living tissues.  Inconveniently but gloriously, it has a free and unconditioned element.  Again and again, in the laboratory itself, the experiment is botched.  Yet where it is triumphantly concluded – in a Buddha, in a Lao-Tse, in a St. Francis of Assisi, in a St. Peter Claver or a John Woolman – the experimental proof of religion shines forth with a light no less clear than that of science.

The Christian

He is persecuted – and rejoices in it.  He puts Christ before his most loved family – and before life itself.  His life and witness are set on a hill, for everyone to see.  He is an infectious case.  He is disciplined.  He takes up his cross.

The programme of Christianity (Professor Henry Drummond)

Next to losing the sense of a personal Christ, the worst evil that can befall a Christian is to have no sense of anything else.  To grow up in a complacent belief that God has no business in this great groaning world of human beings except to attend to a few saved souls is the negation of all religion.  The first great epoch in a Christian’s life, after the awe and wonder of its dawn, is when there breaks into his mind that Christ has a purpose for mankind, a purpose beyond him and his needs, beyond the churches and their creeds, beyond heaven and its saints – a purpose which embraces every man and woman born, every kindred and nation formed, which regards not their spiritual good alone but their welfare in every part, their progress, their health, their work, their wages, their happiness in this present world.

Angel voices, ever singing

Round thy throne of light,

Angel harps, forever ringing,

Rest not day or night;

Thousands only live to bless thee,

And confess thee

Lord of might.  

Thou who art beyond the farthest

Mortal eye can scan,

Can it be that thou regardest

Songs of sinful man?

Can we know that thou art near us

And will hear us?

Yes, we can.

Yes, we know that thou rejoicest

O’er each work of thine;

Thou didst ears, and hands, and voices

For thy praise design;

Craftsman’s art and music’s measure

For thy pleasure

All combine.

In thy house, great God, we offer

Of thine own to thee,

And for thine acceptance proffer,

All unworthily,

Hearts, and minds and hands, and voices

In our choicest


Honour, glory, might, and merit

Thine shall ever be,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Blessed trinity

Of the best that thou hast given

Earth and heaven

Render thee.

Francis Pott, 1832 – 1909

 Extracts from “God is with us” by Ladislaus Boros (Hungarian Jesuit)

  The Love of Jesus.

Our next task is to sketch the outlines of that inner attitude of Jesus which St. Paul calls “loving kindness” (Titus 3.4)) and which in fact was a great and gentle love.  In the Gospels very little is said about his feelings, so that we must concentrate on describing the atmosphere which surrounded Jesus during his earthly life, for it is the simplest happenings of any life that reveal the intentions of the heart.  In the simple actions of Jesus during his earthly life, for it is the simplest happenings of any life that reveal the intentions of the heart.  In the simple actions of Jesus we discover a sincerity and depth of love which exclude without qualifications our first (purely hypothetical) possibility that hate was present in him.

Jesus’ meeting with his disciples came about very simply. Two disciples of John the Baptist followed him and asked: “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  They stayed with him, and talked during the evening (John 1. 35-9).  Peter and Andrew left everything at a single word of Jesus (Matt.4.18-20).  The two sons of Zebedee followed him in the same way (Matt.4.21-2).  The people accompanied him into the wilderness without taking any food.  When these events took place, a great power of human attraction must have radiated from Jesus.  From these chance encounters a closer group gradually grew up about Jesus.  The first feelings of affection slowly gave way to a deeper regard. Their paths crossed more and more often.  The first clashes with the Pharisees knit the little group even closer together.  After this long preparation, though still unexpectedly, came the transition to love:  “He went up into the hills, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him.  And he appointed twelve to be with him, and to be sent out to preach” (Mark 3. 13-14; see also Matt 10. 1-4; Luke 6. 12-16).  This was the beginning of their sharing life together, the beginning of the unity of being in love.  And from now on these men were called friends by Jesus:  “I tell you, my friends... (Luke 12.4).  We see the beginnings of that state where one person can be in another, where people can exchange places with one another, something that is only possible in love:  He who receives you receives me” (Matt.10.40).  “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10.16).  Even the traitor was still called “friend” by Jesus at the end (Matt 26.50).

Within the little group there existed a remarkable atmosphere of intimacy.  Jesus spoke from his heart:  “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my father I have made known to you” (John 15.15).  The disciples learned from him of his experiences of solitude, as during his temptation in the wilderness, and of certain conversations which he had had alone with others, as for example with Nicodemus.  Jesus wished his friends to understand him completely, and so, as in the great discourses in which he took his leave of them, he entrusted his innermost thoughts to them.  Not the least of his sorrows must have been that which St. Luke describes, a little sadly:  “They understood none of these things” (Luke 18.34).  But Jesus showed his love very unobtrusively, very discreetly.  He did not want to force his friendship on anyone.  The Disciples’ response had to be genuinely free; that is, it had to be a response of love.  When that was not present, he placed no restraint on them (John 6.67).  But he always hoped that they would remain with him; in fact he directly implored them:  “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matt.26.38).

For Jesus, this love was the ultimate value.  He was ready to sacrifice everything for it.  The sisters of his friend Lazarus once sent a message to him:  “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” At the risk of his life Jesus went at once to Judea , for “he loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”.  First, the Disciples tried in vain to prevent him, and then they went with him:  “Let us also go that we may die with him”.  And when Jesus, “weeping” and “deeply moved” stood before the grave, the Jews said: “See how he loved him!” (John 11. 1-44).  The love of his friends meant more to Jesus than death.  Then he was captured, he begged the soldiers:  “If you seek me, let these men go” (John 18.8).  To the very end he lived in the consciousness that his love would be the cause of his death:  “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15.13).  But he conceived of this sacrifice as a free gift made by love:  “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10.18).

Attracted by this “loving kindness” of Jesus, a circle of loving friends gradually grew up around him.  There were women amongst them:  Mary, Martha, the woman with the alabaster box of ointment, the Samaritan woman and many more.  A group of “Holy women” accompanied him on his journeys, and cared for the little community.  These women stayed with him to the end.  But there were also friends who did not go out with him all the time, but whom he often visited.  There was in addition a sizeable group of men marked out from the rest of society, who are called in the Gospels “publicans (tax collectors) and sinners”.  One has the strange impression that it was these who showed Jesus the most love and understanding.  Jesus was attacked on their account by the representatives of the conventional point of view.  (“This man receives sinners and eats with them, “ - Luke 15.2).  But he never let himself be put off by this.  When it became too dangerous for him, he withdrew with his friends into regions where those who were in authority could not reach him:  “They passed through Galilee .  And he would not have any one know it; for he was teaching his disciples” (Mark 9.30).

Within this small circle of friends he felt he was safely hidden:  Far from men who were constantly doing their best to trap him, asking hostile questions, twisting the meaning of his words, and denouncing him to the authorities; far from a people who were incapable of understanding his message in its purity and were becoming less and less able to make anything of him.  It is touching to see the patience – a quality of very great love – with which he attempted to initiate these slow-witted people, whom he had made his friends, into the mysteries of his life.

He chose very humble examples – such as a little child seated in his lap – to convey to them the essentials of his message.  He also taught them how they should pray, and prayed himself before them, in moments of exaltation, as for example at the return of the seventy-two Disciples, after the events at the house of Lazarus and in his farewell discourses.  All about him there reigned an immense gentleness, lacking any trace of small-mindedness, affectation or sentimentality.  His love could be stern and piercing:  He was indignant when the Disciples wanted to keep the children away from him (Mark 10.13-14);

He could not tolerate his Disciples becoming envious of each other (Luke9.49-50) or disputing with one another about who was the greatest (Mark 10.35-45); he was seized with anger when James and John wanted to punish the inhospitable Samaritans with fire from heaven:  “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (Luke 9.55); he could even disown or reject a man in the firmest terms, as he did Peter:  “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt.16.23).  But this severity is only a sign of the purity and the directness of a very great love; the crystal clarity of a soul that is not wrapped up in egoism, and in consequence can calmly utter the saving truth, even when it is painful.

At the same time there was a great tenderness in this love.  In the house of Simon the leper, Jesus defended Mary from the indignation of the Disciples:  “Why do you trouble the woman?  For she has done a beautiful thing to me”, (Matt.26.10).  Jesus felt himself drawn to the weak and the abandoned:  “He saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6.34).  He wanted to save those who were lost, and therefore he was very gentle towards them:  “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (John 8.11); he could not bear to see a poor woman who had repented of her sins scorned and rejected by a company that was without sympathy and spiritually blind (Luke 7.36-50).  At such moments the love of Jesus was displayed in all its exquisite and noble reserve.

Under the terrifying threat of death, at the last supper, which Jesus desired to eat with his friends “with great longing” (Luke 22.15), the love of Jesus burst forth in word and action with immense power.  Jesus was already aware that he was with his friends for the last time.  Once again he desired to “show them his love” (John 13.1).  In a final message he summed up his whole attitude in a demand which was the expression of everything they had experienced in all the joys and sorrows, solemn moments and everyday life of their months together:  “Little children, yet a little while I am with you....A new Commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my Disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13.33-5).

He said that he did not wish the Disciples’ hearts to be troubled (John 14.1); he promised them a mysterious comfort through his spirit (John 14.15-17); he proclaimed that he was leaving them a great peace (John 14.27) and several times repeated the commandment of love (John 15.10,12,17).  As though he had forgotten his own fate, he tried to relieve the worry of his friends, to ease their “hearts full of sorrow” (John 16.6), and manifested his love to them by small attentions.  This was the situation in which the Eucharist was given, the ultimate fulfilment of this comforting, self-giving and self-forgetting love of Jesus.

In Jesus’ life, love was the ultimate basis and foundation:  Everything was controlled, penetrated and united by it.  It was the essential act of his being.

What Jesus demanded was superhuman, beyond fulfilment:  He asked for poverty of spirit, love of one’s enemies, gentleness, and perfection like that of the father; but he was not concerned whether men should “succeed” in this.  These were not rigid commandments, but a living demand and an effective power.  He opened up new horizons towards which men had to direct their path, and make progress; his laws were such as aim at an ultimate perfection.  A new world was to come into being, surpassing everything of which we had dreamt or were capable.  By the standards of such a world we would always be too small, and we would constantly have to “return” to it in repentance.  The message of Jesus did not condemn our weakness, but set free the limited power of mankind to seek for something greater.

I need thee every hour,                                        I need thee every hour,

   Most gracious Lord;                                            in joy or pain;

No tender voice like thine                                    Come quickly and abide,

   Can peace afford                                                 or life is vain.


I need thee every hour;                                        I need thee every hour;

   Stay thou near by:                                              teach me thy will,

Temptations lose their power,                            and thy rich promises

   When thou art nigh.                                            In me fulfil.

  Annie Sherwood Hawks, 1835 – 1918

The bi-centennial of the American declaration of independence was celebrated on 4 July 1976.

This declaration, the most stirring and significant document since the Magna Carta was proclaimed, was signed by the founding fathers on 4 July1776.  It ran as follows:-


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

At the end of our life all that we truly possess is our heart, which means our suffering, our hopes and helplessness, the desperation we have endured and our cry for help and grace.  Everything else belongs to that world which one day will pass away into God’s all – consuming love.  Not even God can build heaven out of our “successes”.  The really important things come about in the midst of the incomprehensible – in our pain, in loneliness and suffering, in the determination to weep with those who weep, rejoice with the joyful, to share in the humanity of others, to descent into the commonplace, to love everyday life in its greyness, to belong no more to ourselves.  Thus a new world is built.  The Christian wants to be close to his neighbour in his laughter and in his tears.  And whoever can laugh and weep with his brother is already a Christian.

Ladislaus Boros (Jesuit) from his book “in time of temptation”.

God does not want us to bring him anything very grand at the end of our life – only what we are:  A little joy, much despair, longing for love, and our friendship.

As above.

The Humility of God. (Ladislaus Boros)

Christ did not want to conquer by dazzling brilliance.  He had decided in advance that he would brave every danger and deliver himself up to every kind of heaviness of heart and every sort of misunderstanding.  He would present himself to the masses not as a superman but as a stranger from a small, remote market town, suffering together with his suffering people.  His God head was not to shine forth suddenly and overwhelm the masses.  He would allow the fullness of his personal identity to be perceived only by those who won through to this recognition in quietness and in the freedom of love.  It had to come about in such a way that some would acknowledge to themselves, in humbleness of heart, “God is among us, although everything speaks against him”.  If God’s incarnation was to be revealed in a gesture of power it would be inwardly corrupted and outwardly misunderstood.  Salvation would thus have been the God-man’s self-glorification and not his passion.  Once again the essence of Christianity, and thus of humanity, was at stake.  Nowhere in Christ’s life do we find pretensions to the extraordinary.  It is true that the consciousness of his messianic mission was alive within him, and unfathomable powers of transformation arose out of his soul.  But every gesture, every word in his life, expressed simplicity and modesty.  In Christ something unsuspected comes to light:  The humility of God.

Christ did not seek for self-glorification but took upon himself the helplessness that every love must at some time experience.  He trod the way of the cross right into the depths of abandonment.  He wanted to be powerless.  He did not want to “force” anything through, or to “manipulate” people.  He was not moved by the vision of a “worldly” world, but by the “insignificant flock”, the “tiny remnant”.  Thus Christ grasped intuitively – with his human consciousness – the basic direction of his own life and the future of humanity.  Perhaps he saw people before him, like the tax collector, who “standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven” (Luke 18.13).  Of what use would it be to such people if he came in power?  At this instant Christ gazed deep into our souls, into our eyes filled with tears of suppressed desperation.  Thus he realized that only a sufferer can approach such suffering. 

His dazzling glory would crush our souls.  He did not wield any power save humility.  He wanted to be and to remain with us.  With us men, wretched as we are.  We can only explain Christ’s life if we accept something incomprehensible, which at first seems nonsense, even blasphemy:  God himself is humility.

There must be in him a mysterious readiness to descend into nothingness.  There must be something at work in him that makes him willing and glad to assume the life of a stranger from the village of Nazareth .  He must have found a mysterious happiness in concealing his glory from the powerful and announcing it to the insignificant and the weak.  God hid the Holy “things” from the mighty of this world and revealed them to the humble.  He brought a new spirit to this earth; “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Mat.11.29).  At the last supper he knelt before his disciples and washed their feet.  That incident shakes to his depths anyone who has a feeling for human greatness.  He certainly did not do it to “Deny” himself but because he, the God-man, felt himself compelled to reveal the essence of God.  The incarnation was the fundamental act of humility, laying the essential foundation for every human offering of self:  “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil.2.5-8).  In the depths of God’s eternal being arose the longing to empty himself of glory and omnipotence and to descent into annihilation.  The Disciples were right to be dumbfounded before the God-man kneeling at their feet.  The Christian should enter into this mystery of God’s self-emptying:  “I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13.15).  Christians should learn from Christ not only modesty and not only readiness to help their brothers.  God requires more of us.  As Christians we may participate in the divine humility.

How did people experience Christ in his lifetime?  His family, the house from which he sprang, was poor.  He did not strive to win respect.  He was simply and naturally poor.  His poverty was, rather, a lack of pretensions.  He did not choose important people as his friends.  He struggled, but basically it was not a struggle.  What he did and suffered had the character of a singular failure.  He was solitary, one might even say, deserted.  He was misunderstood.  His work was in vain.  God’s humility made desolate the existence of the man Jesus. 

It was a fearsome thing, to be the son of God.  Christ bore within himself a truth that came from God himself, in him there welled up immeasurable love and friendship.

He could have set the whole world out of joint.  But he chose otherwise.  He accepted his pitiless destiny.   Everywhere he met an impenetrable wall.  This existential experience of not being accepted, and not being recognised, reached its absolute limit in his death when he died forsaken (it seemed) by God himself.

There is a green hill far away,

Without a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified

Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,

What pains he had to bear;

But we believe it was for us

He hung and suffered there.

H died that we might be forgiven,

He died to make us good.

That we might go at last to heaven,

Saved by his precious blood.


There was no other good enough

To pay the price of sin;

He only could unlock the gate

Of  heaven and let us in.


O dearly, dearly has he loved,

And we must love him too,

And trust in his redeeming blood,

And try his works to do.


Cecil Frances Alexander, 1823 – 95


Love of our neighbour would wither were it to lose the flower of compassion from which sprang the rich harvest of the hospital workers and the nursing orders.  Love of mankind can have but one meaning to devote oneself with all one’s energies and all one’s heart to man’s need of relief from distress and affliction.

The Quality of Mercy.

by Ladislaus Boros

Mercy is one of the greatest acts the human heart is capable of.  Its source is love.  If love has become really deep rooted in a person, that is, if it has taken possession of his body and soul and of his whole being, then at the same time it has made him liable to suffer.  People are astonishingly quick to notice the unselfish and generous heart.  From selfless love, they seek help and above all the warmth of human affection:  The hungry seek food, the thirsty ask for a drink, the naked for clothing, the stranger for a home, the captive for release; the sick ask to be cared for and the dying ask for comfort, the unrighteous desire patience, the ignorant ask to be taught, the sorrowful seek consolation, and all men call for prayer.  It is customary to speak of the seven works of mercy.  They are a visible expression of all the misery of human existence.  To take this misery upon ourselves brings suffering with it, sometimes unbearable suffering.  The distress of others takes more out of us than does our own suffering.  Our existence if threatened more by the frailty of others than by our own weakness.  The helplessness of someone who is suffering is often too much for us.  Someone comes to us with his face drawn with his suffering, and we are powerless and unable to help.  There still remains one final work of mercy that cannot simply be equated with the other seven, because it is the basis of all mercy.  When suffering goes really deep, one can often only help by “sympathizing”, sharing in the suffering.  The only thing one is still able to do is to open one’s heart, let the suffering of the other person pour in, and persevere in sharing in his suffering; until he finds that his suffering is relieved because someone who loves him is sharing the burden.  Anyone who thinks it is easy to persevere in love to the bitter end in this way, so that this becomes the most characteristic act of our life, does not yet know the profundity of human love.  The merciful person opens his heart, the innermost centre of his personality, to the misery and suffering of another.  In the depths of human love there is an emotional power, through which we can accept anyone who is helpless just as he is, and in which the sufferer’s cries for help find a response.  The suffering of another person touches the very essence of our own being.  If we look with the eyes of selfless love at those whom we encounter, they drop the mask of their everyday assurance and reveal to us their true countenance.

We are seized by an apprehension of everything that is sorrowful in all mankind.  In a world in which love and suffering both exist, love can never be happy, because of its nature love must be ready to be affected by the suffering of someone else.  A man who loves is a friend to every stranger, to every rejected and homeless being.  Anyone who truly loves his fellow men feels a boundless indignation at suffering and everything that causes suffering.  Love has a holy anger, an anger against suffering and against anyone who brings suffering.  Anyone who comforts the suffering must first suffer himself.  Then, when he speaks words of comfort, they do not come from outside any more, but from within.  Words of comfort can only be endured on the basis of a true unity of being.  One no longer speaks of “suffering” but of “your suffering”, which, through our love for each other, has become “my suffering”.  And it is very often quite enough for a person who loves someone who is suffering simply to look at him, to take his hand, or to remain with him, quietly and unobtrusively.  In the presence of someone who loves me, my sorrow no longer “eats me up”; the ground becomes firm beneath my feet again, the world around me is transformed, my lot suddenly becomes different; I am no longer enmeshed within the narrow limits of a situation from which there is no way out; he has created a new world for me, and in fact he has raised me up to live a new life, although nothing in my condition may have altered.  This is a “creative presence”; he has truly comforted me.

But anyone who dares to bring such comfort must accept the consequences of this devotion, by renewing his creative presence again and again.  This means forging that link with another human being which is so difficult and consumes our own very being, and is called loyalty.  We do not take the suffering of another on ourselves if we only help him to bear it once.  If we do that, we do not comfort him, but deceive him and make his suffering of another on ourselves if we only help him to bear it once.  If we do that, we do not comfort him, but deceive him and make his suffering even worse.  Suffering does not really become suffering until it lasts some time in a person’s life.  Only then does its destructive power take full effect, and only then does it begin to penetrate to the deepest roots of one’s being, to poison the sources of life, and crush every strand of existence.

To share in this slow disintegration of a man and sustain him with a constantly renewed creative presence is perhaps the hardest demand mercy makes on us.  To do that when our own inner vitality no longer supports us, when we are ourselves in a condition of the uttermost weariness and fatigue, when loathing is slowly gathering in the depths of our soul, when we ourselves are gradually being worn out by the constant demands of love, when our heart grows lifeless because he who is suffering is no longer capable of returning our love, and poisons our being by his offensiveness, and slowly destroys our life – all this is no longer merely a creative presence, but a “creative loyalty”, the fullness of human mercy.  Such a loyalty goes infinitely beyond the limits of what can be prescribed.  It demands great patience, utter selflessness, unswerving love and, above all, silent, tender humility.  The most loyal hearts are also the humblest hearts.  They give of their own being until they have almost nothing left.

How to approach old age by Ladislaus Boros

Man must never have the experience of being fully realised and brought to completion, otherwise the life that is in him grows cold.  A man who “lives on” is one who believes, who is convinced that there is something greater for him, that he has not yet come to an end.

The Red Flag

The people’s flag is deepest red;

It shrouded oft our martyred dead:

And ere their limbs grew stiff or cold.

Their heart’s blood dyed its every fold.

Then raise the scarlet standard high!

Within its shade we’ll live and die!

Tho’ cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

We’ll keep the red flag flying here!


This was the assault on the Turkish mainland from the Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea; by British, New Zealand , French, Australian, Indian, Maoris, Sikhs, and Ghurkha troops.  It started on 25th April 1915.  On that day six Lancashire fusiliers won Victoria Crosses for outstanding bravery.

“These men had come from all parts of the British world.  They had said good-bye to home, that they might offer their lives in the cause we stand for... they went like Kings in a pageant to the imminent death”          (John Masefield).

“In one day, April 25th 1915, Australia attained nationhood by the heroism of her noble sons.”                                          (Lieutenant Phillip F.E. Schuler).

No campaign was so identified with the Australian and New Zealand forces as Gallipoli.  Anzac Day, April 25th, is now a national day in both Australia and New Zealand , the day devoted to the memory of those who fell in both World Wars.

“The men of the tattered battalion which fight till it dies,

Dazed with the dust of battle, the din and the cries,

The men with the broken heads, and blood running into their eyes,

Of these shall my song be fashioned, by tale told”.

(John Masefield)


“These hills, and the ground commanded by them were the scenes of some of the noblest heroism which ever went far to atone for the infamy of war”

(John Masefield)


“This morning we landed guns, and hot work it was, for the horses and men, to get them into position.  One awful sight I saw was when one of the horses that were taking the guns up the hill got shot through the open mouth into the back of the throat.  The driver brought it down to the beach, staggering along, to be examined by the vet.  It dropped in a heap, dying fast.  Another man was bringing the other horse, for they work in pairs, and when it reached its dying chum it pawed the ground and cried like a child, great tears rolling down its face.  Trembling all over, it was led away at the order of a big Australian who said it was too hard to watch its grief.” (An eye witness).

Comment:-  Even horses have their feelings, and war brings them moments of great distress.

“In May there were no flies.  In June they came by armies; in July by multitudes.  They came fresh from tins of putrefying food cast into no – man’s – land, from blackening bodies in the scrub or on the wire, and from the excrement in the Turkish trenches.  These bloated flies alighted on the moisture of your lips, your eyes, your nostrils; they dropped on each morsel of food and pursued it into your mouth and down your throat…dysentery raged, it became universal.  Everybody had it.  In any normal campaign every man of them would have been sent on a stretcher to the base.  Yet, in spite of all this, of the heat, the flies, the stench, the disease and the frustration, yes frustration, for being held up, unable to get ahead; In spite of all this the army’s spirit never faltered.” (An eye witness).

“We had hardly got secured before the procession began to arrive, led by a stretcher case with an Indian orderly in attendance.”  “Are you in charge, boy?”  “Yes, Sir”, I replied and looked down.  “It was the Colonel of the regiment.  His face was the colour of marble; his hands and arms were heavily bandaged.  He was in great pain.  I was then to witness a sight I have never forgotten.  There he lay, propping himself up on one elbow, refusing to be moved until all his men had been attended to.  He had something kind to say in Hindustani to each man as he passed.  They replied with tears running down their cheeks”.  (An eye witness).

“The Naval history of Britain contains no page more wonderful than that which describes the prowess of her submarines at the Dardanelles .  Their exploits constitute the finest example of submarine warfare in the whole of the great war”. (Winston Churchill).

Seeing the British fleet in action in the Dardanelles at Gallipoli in March 1915, General Sir Ian Hamilton wrote:-

“In the sight of all those men standing still, silent, orderly in their ranks, facing the imminence of death, I got my answer to the hasty moralising about war.  Ten thousand years of peace would fail to produce a spectacle of so great a virtue.

(An eye witness at Gallipoli):- “It was just wonderful to see those brave nurses “ wrote Private Frank Clune, who was a patient in the hospital ship Delta during the August offensive “some of them were mere girls, and frail looking things, who you would think would be blown over by the least puff of wind, going round among the poor wounded boys, with a soothing word here, a glass of water there, and a draught to another who was in pain.”  “When the final day of the war comes I think the greatest praise will go to those noble nurses who are working on our behalf all over the world at the present day.

 Evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula (9th Jan. 1916)

From beaches exposed to shell fire, without any safe natural harbour, some 90,000 men with 200 guns had to be re-embarked in the presence of an undefeated enemy, whose trenches were nowhere more than 300 yds from our own.  The operation had to be carried out at a season of treacherous weather and in confined waters open to U-boat attack; and, in order to ensure secrecy, the whole operation must be undertaken under cover of darkness.

“In that marvellous evacuation we see the national genius for amphibious warfare raised to its highest manifestation.”

(Sir Julian Corbett).

 The cost of the Gallipoli Campaign.

Total British casualties 205,000 (115,000 killed, wounded or missing).  And 90,000 evacuated sick.  Official Turkish casualties 251,000.

The cost of the evacuation:- 28 Officers and 1,573 men killed, wounded or missing.  (A heavy price).

Thrice happy they whom an unbroken bond unites, and whom no quarrel shall sunder before life’s final day.

Horace (65 – 8 B.C.).

Difficulties are stepping stones to success

Extracts from “God is with us”, by Ladislaus Boros.


Through repentance, man renews and purifies the profoundest depths of his being, and so turns, as a different person to face a new future.  Repentant persons gradually become endowed with that mysterious quality which makes their nature radiant goodness.  Repentance keeps up a constant attack on the guilty past, revealing and eradicating the most subtle traces of evil.  The sources of evil in the world are as it were blocked up.  The product of this slow process of maturation is a gentle person from whom healing powers of good flow out into the world.


At the moment of death all the play-acting and make-believe in life come to an end.  When he is not expecting it, a man is suddenly revealed exactly as he is, without any disguise or protection.  Everything that he has built up, struggled for, achieved, and won by love, with so much effort throughout his life, has suddenly disappeared and become worthless.  He has played many parts, but the play is over now.  There he is, anonymous, without protection or means of defence, face to face with the final and disturbing question:  Who am I?


The emotion of regret is a most valuable one.  It signifies that a man can look at himself from outside, that he can be dissatisfied with himself, that he is greater than the reality produced by his past.  What regret says is this:  “I am aware of my own wretchedness; there is within me a longing for something better; I am sorry that I have not been different. “Regret is where man begins to be truly human and to return to the depths within his being where he is “himself”, so becoming able, as it were, to sit in judgement on himself.



Wherever faith is, the abyss of possible doubt is opened up.  Our faith is always a search for something that is not there.  It is genuinely not easy to live and to lift ourselves up into something that is greater than ourselves.  A mature person believes, not because it is easier to believe, but in spite of the fact that it is more difficult.

Faith is never given to us in such a way that we do not have to beg for it every day in our trials and in our prayers.  If we humbly admit this, we are acknowledging “a God who is greater still”.  Thus faith is “to enter into an ever-increasing mystery.”

The greatest threat occurs when a man is satisfied with himself and with the state he has attained:  The objects, the events, the other persons and the acquisitions which he has, as it were, gathered together in his soul.  His mind and heart can be so full of his successes that there is no room for anything else.  At this point a man no longer feels the necessity for something “more”, something that does not yet exist.  When what has been achieved takes control of a life, and begins to make a person satisfied with himself, faith disappears.

Weariness can be a threat to faith.  A person who will say:  “I am too small and always will be ; the world holds no more promises for me; I have exerted myself, but got no further forward; I am still surrounded by the same insignificance; nothing that exists has beauty or colour for me any longer. “Disgust and emptiness then set in, an emptiness that is “merely empty” and does not give rise to longing.  The feeling of one’s own inadequacy, the feeling that one will always fail anyway, becomes overpowering.  What place is there then for the idea that there can be something greater for me and for the world?  What place is there then for faith?  It is also possible for a person to torment himself with the questions which poison faith within.  How can a merciful God permit so much suffering?  How can God tolerate all the cruelty, injustice and wickedness that there is?

If there was truly a God this would not be so.  “So the questions go on, working within a person, disturbing him, and confusing his previous certainty.  They become so strong that his whole faith falters and he regards himself as a fool, if he still holds on to his faith….victory can be won by achieving loyalty and wisdom.  To every experience of inadequacy, the possibility of further effort provides an answer.  In spite of every failure, perseverance remains.  After every disappointment, an appeal can be made to the ultimate meaning lying behind everything.”

In all human existence there is an essential factor which can be described as “basic faith”.  This can be present even in those who have no explicit knowledge of God.  It is a condition without which true humanity is not possible.  It is also the point at which a specific faith, such as “Christian” faith, can find a way into a human life.  If this “basic faith” were not present in human lives, there would be no possibility of God’s speaking to man or being heard by him.  This “basic faith” is nothing less than the fundamental “breaking open” of the present moment in which he lives.  In other words, the result of this “basic faith” is that man does not regard himself as final, but can give himself to something greater, which has an unconditional claim upon him.  Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned.  It surpasses anything that is possible in the present moment.  That is why it is not capable of proof within the realm of direct evidence.  It is debatable, subject to doubt, and obscure.  It has to be won again and again by a fresh effort.  It is not demonstrable; it is, of its nature, always shrouded in mystery, withdrawn.  Therefore, questioning, seeking, restlessness and trials are an essential part of faith.  Faith only exists when doubt has been overcome.  But without this conquest, there can be no true humanity.  Without this, man is enclosed within himself, and becomes small, regards the present as a final conclusion, and loses himself in what he possesses, in what he already knows, and in the affairs of everyday life.  His life no longer contains any novelty, any power, any true joy, any uncertainty or any risk.  Without faith, human nature wastes away atrophies.  Man must maintain his humanity in uncertainty.  


An essential element of hope is that what is to be fulfilled is “not yet” and what is real and important has still to be sought with a restless heart.

Within man there is still an “emptiness”, and in fact man was the first creature in which this empty space within his being was to be found.  It is the dwelling place of dreams.  The wish for something better is never satisfied.  Our longings do not cease.  Man cannot imagine himself without desire.  He struggles forward into the light, forward into what is not yet.  We dream of the time when our wishes can be fulfilled.

Philosophers have never felt completely at ease in the present world.  Philosophy is a “search for wisdom”, and is therefore a search for something that none of us truly possesses.  In consequence, the philosophers have always been ahead of their time, their society, and the spiritual era in which they lived.  Their dreams have always led them towards a territory where the desires of the world are as it were fulfilled in their minds.  In the most various ideas and systems of thought they have always expressed a hope which is present in us all.  The hope of ultimate liberation from the power of evil, the hope of freedom, of assurance, of ultimate fulfilment, the hope of a world in which perfection will become our second nature.

Man must be drawn on by his future towards full humanity.  Our hopes and demands must be greater than what is possible.  Heaven is the central and innermost significance of everything that man has ever hoped.


In order to bring to realisation the essence of the humanity that has been bestowed on him, man must distinguish between good and evil in his past life (repentance), direct his present existence towards someone greater (belief), and advance into a future which promises fulfilment (hope).  Nothing that truly endures in his existential life is “given” him at the outset.

It is only formed through a process in which he freely determines his own destiny “creates his own self”.  The “substantiality” of man is not present at the beginning, but at the end of this process.  Man “endures” in that he “justifies his own existence” through the use of his freedom.  True humanity is a task, a challenge to man.  It is “the awakening of being”.  What is demanded of us constantly exceeds what we have achieved.  We do not yet “exist”.  We must continually “re-create” ourselves, by means of repentance, belief and hope.  The true task, then, is not to return to our true selves, but to surpass ourselves, to “be more”.  This is why the spark of genius in a human life lies in being able to “give oneself up”.  This is the only way anything great, enduring, or true can come into being in man.  Everything in us must constantly be surpassed.  Nothing else brings about an essential humanity.  In the most simple terms; man’s life “progresses” through the trials he endures; it attains a “higher level” through temptation.  Consequently, trials and temptations are spiritual experiences of the first importance, necessary conditions which man must accept if he is to become himself.  But at the same time they represent the moments of greatest danger in our existence

The desire of the saints, which makes saints of them, is to bear God within themselves and bring him to others.  This is saintliness and temptation at the same time.  Temptation, because man wishes to bring God into his own power.  God perpetually evades man’s grasp, especially at the moment when a man believes he has hold of him.  “To wish to force God” – that is the essence of this temptation:  To keep God the way we want him to be; to seek to fence in, him and his grace with rules, systems and methods,; to seek to have God’s presence, his word and his revelation always at one’s own disposal; and to seek continually to feel his comfortings, his affection and his sensible grace.  Thus even the saints would only too often like to “have hold of” the Kingdom of God.

This temptation is the source of all the pantomime that goes on in the human search for God:  The aimless and exaggerated display of religiosity, the empty complexity of a fanatically organized cult, the bizarre development of religious practices, spectacles and experiences, the exaggeration of Christian values into fanaticism and intolerance.

Thus a holy life slips back into unreality.  But God is not constrained by our accumulated precautions, by the copiousness of our prayers or by the length of time we spend brooding.  The most essential characteristic of saintliness is to be ready, to persevere, to wait attentively, and to open the heart and mind to receive God.  The saints only learn this by being tempted.  God presents himself when he wishes.  Man must prepare his way, make the rough places smooth and fill the valleys.  Whether God takes the way prepared for him, whether he steps through the door man has opened, whether he allows the embrace to take place, is a decision only he can make, and which man must leave to him alone.

Man gains nothing from plaguing his mind with turmoil of regret, remorse, scruples, contrition and restlessness.  All that cannot “constrain” God.  Man cannot seek God as one seeks a thing that one has mislaid by chance, but which is always “at hand” if it is taken care of.  God is, of his nature, always sought and never finally found.  If God is found, he is no God.  Essential characteristics of God are his constant novelty, and the fact that he cannot be constrained.  The true God is always essentially “new”.  And his essence cannot be made “available”, or, in other words, it cannot become the “object” of the “desire for riches”.

Enduring greatness is always achieved by neglect and disregard for one’s own greatness, by the conquest of pride.  Greatness comes to dwell in those who know that they are nothing, who suddenly becomes weary of themselves and their pretensions, there exists a close, indissoluble and essential link between the renunciation of one’s own greatness and true human greatness; or to express it in other words, between sacrifice and joy.  This is a paradox, like what happens at the moment when a mother gives her child life.  That sacrifice and joy form a unity that we are enriched only by giving, that true greatness is achieved only by renunciation, is a truth of experience, but on which cannot be proved.


The man who possesses the word of Jesus can also hear his silence; for the word of God came forth out of silence.  Our silence is achieved by overcoming our turmoil.  Jesus’ speech was the result of his overcoming his silence.  Silence is not merely the absence of speech.  It is not something negative; it is “something” in itself.  It is a depth, fullness, a peaceful flow of hidden life.  Everything true and great grows in silence.  Without silence we fall short of reality and cannot plumb the depths of being.  Only in silence can the soul begin to become aware of something greater.  Silence is full of greatness and reality.  What is important speaks from the depths of the heart.  Cautiously it knocks on the door of the soul.  Its voice is usually scarcely audible.

Man comes, and comes essentially, out of turmoil.  Silence is a task for him; it is a goal that is often unattainable, or attainable only at the end of long exertions.  From a turmoil which fills his whole being, he has to struggle to attain silence.  That is the route taken by his inner self-realisation.

Spirit of wisdom, turn our eyes

From earth and earthly vanities

To heavenly truth and loves;

Spirit of understanding true,

Our souls with heavenly light endue

To seek the things above.


Spirit of counsel, be our guide;

Teach us, by earthly struggles tried,

Our heavenly crown to win:

Spirit of fortitude, thy power

Be with us in temptation’s hour,

To keep us pure from sin.


Spirit of knowledge, lead our feet

In thine own paths, so safe and sweet,

By angel footsteps trod;

Where thou our guardian true shalt be,

Spirit of gentle piety,

To keep us close to God.

Through all our life be ever near,

Spirit of God’s most holy fear,

In our heart’s inmost shrine;

Our souls with awful reverence fill,

To worship his most holy will,

All-righteous and divine.


So lead us, Lord, through peace or strife,

Onward to everlasting life,

To win our high reward:

So may we fight our lifelong fight,

Strong in thine own unearthly might,

And reign with Christ our Lord.






Frederick William Faber  1814-63

On Allan’s Christmas card to his mother (1976)

“A mother laughs our laughter; sheds our tears; returns our love; fears our fears.  She lives our joys; cares our cares and all our hopes and dreams she shares.”

“It is dangerous to abandon one’s self to the luxury of grief; it deprives one of courage and even of the wish for recovery”.

Amiel (1828 – 1881)

“Hands of invisible spirits touch the strings, of that mysterious instrument, the soul.  And play the prelude of our fate.

Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

A mother of blind triplets:- “It’s a handicap, but it isn’t the end of the world.  God wouldn’t have given this chance to parents he thought couldn’t cope”.

“We can inherit intelligence; but only God can give us wisdom”.


“Who is the happiest of men?  He who values the merits of others.  And in their pleasure takes joy, even though it were his own.”

Goethe (1749 – 1832)

Love, to speak of you, eternity itself will be too brief.

A film has been made from this book (1977)

Extracts from “The Hiding Place ”, by Corrie Ten Boom, who saved many hundreds of Dutch Jews from the claws of the German Gestapo, by hiding them away, at the risk of her own life.

With the feet-on-the-ground practicality that has made her one of the world’s most sought-after teachers, Corrie Ten Boom shows us how we can love those who hate us, how we can enter heaven in the midst of hell, how we can stay sane in a world that has lost its reason.

Corrie said “Today I know that memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.  I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do.  I only know that certain moments from long ago stand out in focus against the blur of years.  Oddly sharp and near they are, as though they were not yet finished, as though they had something more to say.”  Also, “happiness is not something that depends on our surroundings.  It is something we make inside ourselves.  And “love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked, that means pain.  There are two things we can do when this happens.  We can kill the love so that it stops hurting.  But then part of us dies too.  Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.  God loves – even more than we do – and if we ask him he will give us his love, a love nothing can prevent or destroy.  Whenever we cannot love in the old, human ways, God can give us the perfect way.  And so I discovered that it is not in our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on his.  When he tells us to love our enemies; he gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

Corrie’s sister Betsie dies in Ravensbruck concentration camp.

And thus began the closet, most joyous weeks of all time in Ravensbruck.  Side by side, Betsie and I ministered the word of God to all in the room.  We sat by deathbeds that became doorways of heaven.

We watched women who had lost everything grow rich in hope.  The occupants of barracks 28 became the praying heart of the vast diseased body that was Ravensbruck, interceding for all in the camp – guards as well as prisoners.  We prayed beyond the concrete walls for the healing of Germany , of Europe , of the world.  And as we prayed, God spoke to us about the world after the war, it was extraordinary; in this place of horror, and God asked us what we were going to do in the years ahead.  Betsie was always very clear about the answer for her and me.  We were to have a house, a large one – to which people who had been damaged by concentration camp life would come until they felt ready to live again in the normal world.

“It’s such a beautiful house, Corrie!  The floors are all inlaid wood, with statues set in the walls and a broad staircase sweeping down.  And gardens!  Gardens all around it, where they can plant flowers.  It will do them such good, Corrie, to care for flowers!”

I would stare at Betsie in amazement as she talked about these things.  She spoke always as though she were describing things that she saw – as if that side, winding staircase and those bright gardens were the reality; this cramped and filthy barracks the dream.  But it wasn’t a dream.  It was really, achingly, endlessly true, and it was always during roll calls that the accumulated misery threatened to overwhelm me.  Each roll call the wind seemed sharper.  The cold seemed to be affecting Betsie’s legs.  Sometimes in the morning she could not move them at all, and two of us would have to carry her between us.  It was not hard – she weighed no more than a child.  But she could no longer stamp her feet as the rest of us did to keep the blood flowing.  When we returned to the dormitory I would rub her feet and hands, but my own only picked up the chill from hers.

It was the week before Christmas that Betsie woke up unable to move either legs or arms.  I shoved my way through the crowded aisles to the centre room.  “Please!”  I begged, “Betsie is ill!  Oh please, she’s got to get to the hospital!”  And the guard answered “all prisoners must report for the count.  If she’s sick she can register at sick call”. 

Maryke de Graaf, a Dutch woman on the tier above ours, helped me form a cradle with our arms and carry Betsie outside.  We carried her to the hospital, and then stopped.  In the light of the street lamps, the sick-call line stretched to the edge of the building and out of sight around the corner.  In the sooty snow alongside, three bodies lay where they had fallen.

Without a word Maryke and I turned and carried our load back to the hut and got her back to bed.  Her speech was slow and blurred, but she was trying to say something.

“A camp, Corrie    a concentration camp.  But we’re...in charge...”I had to bend very close to hear.  The camp was in Germany .  It was no longer a prison, but a home where people who had been warped by this philosophy of hate and force could come to learn another way.  There were no walls, no barbed wire, and the barracks had window boxes.  “It will be so good for them... watching things grow.  People can learn to love, from flowers...”

I knew by now which people she meant.  The German people.  I looked into Betsie’s shrunken face.  “We are to have this camp in Germany instead, Betsie?  Instead of the big house in Holland ?”  “Oh no!”  She seemed shocked.  “You know we have the house first!  It’s ready and waiting for us...such tall, tall windows!  The sun is streaming in – “.  A coughing fit seized her; when she finally lay still, a stain of blood blackened the straw.  She dozed fitfully during the day and night that followed, waking several times with the excitement of some new detail about our work in Holland or Germany .

“The barracks are grey, Corrie, but we’ll paint them green!  Bright, light green, like springtime.”

“We’ll be together, Betsie?  We’re doing all this together?  You’re sure about that?”

“Always together, Corrie!  You and I...always together.”

When the siren blew next morning, Maryke and I again carried Betsie from the dormitory.  The guard was standing at the street door.  As we walked through it with our fragile burden she stepped in front of us.  “Take her back!”  Wonderingly, we replaced Betsie on the bed.  Sleet rattled against the windows. 

Was it possible that the atmosphere of barracks 28 had affected even this cruel guard?  As soon as roll call was dismissed I ran back to the dormitory.  There, beside our bed, stood the guard.  Beside her two orderlies from the hospital was setting down a stretcher.  The guard straightened almost guiltily as I approached “prisoner is ready for transfer, “she snapped.

I looked at the woman more closely:  Had she risked fleas and lice to spare Betsie the sick-call line?  She did not stop me as I started after the stretcher.  As we passed a Polish friend she dropped to her knees and made the sign of the cross.

Sleet stung us as we reached the outside.  I stepped close to the stretcher to form a shield for Betsie.  We walked past the waiting line of sick people, through the door and into a large ward.  They placed the stretcher on the floor and I leaned down to make out Betsie’s words.

“...must tell people what we have leaned here.  We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that he is not deeper still.  They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”

I stared at her wasted form.  “But when will all this happen, Betsie?”

“Now, right away.  Oh, very soon!  By the first of the year, Corrie, we will be out of prison!”

I watched as they placed Betsie on a narrow cot close to the window.  I ran around to the outside of the building.  At last Betsie caught sight of me; we exchanged smiles and soundless words until one of the camp police shouted at me to move along.

The following morning, I again headed for the hospital; I reached the window and cupped my eyes to peer in.  I saw two nurses at the head and foot of the bed:  I gazed curiously at what lay on it.  It was a carving in old yellow ivory.  There was no clothing on the figure; I could see each ivory rib, and the outline of the teeth through the parchment cheeks.

It took me a moment to realize it was Betsie.

The nurses had each seized two corners of the sheet.  They lifted it between them and carried the bundle from the room before my heart had started to beat again in my chest.                                                                             

Betsie!  But – she had too much to do!  She could not -.

Where were they taking her?  Where had they gone!  I turned from the window and began running along the side of the building, chest hurting me as I breathed.

Then I remembered the washroom.  That window at the rear – that was where ...

My feet carried me mechanically around to the back of the building.  And there I stopped.  Suppose she was there?  Suppose they had laid Betsie on that floor?


I turned round to see Maryke running towards me.  “Corrie, I’ve looked for you everywhere!  Oh, Corrie, come!”

She seized my arm and led me into the washroom.  In the reeking room stood a nurse.

“This is the sister”,  Maryke said to the nurse.

I turned my head to the side – I would not look at the bodies that lined the far wall.  Maryke put an arm around my shoulder and drew me across the room till we were standing above that heart-breaking row.

“Corrie!  Do you see her!”

I raised my eyes to Betsie’s face.  Lord Jesus – what have you done!  Oh Lord, what are you saying!  What are you giving me!

For there lay Betsie, her eyes closed as if in sleep, her face full and young.  The care lines, the grief lines, the deep hollows of hunger and disease were simply gone.  In front of me was the Betsie of Haarlem , happy and at peace.  Stronger!  Freer!  This was the Betsie of heaven, bursting with joy and health.  Even her hair was graciously in place as if an angel had ministered to her.  At last I turned wonderingly to Maryke.  The nurse went silently to the door and opened it for us herself.  “You can leave through the hall,” she said softly.

I looked once more at the radiant face of my sister.  Then I left the room.  I now knew that what would always tie me to Betsie was the hope of heaven.

This hymn was chosen by Sir Harold Wilson when he presented his own selection of favourite recordings on radio three’s “Man of action” programme at 1415 on Saturday the Twenty sixth of February 1977

The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended,

The darkness falls at thy behest;

To thee our morning hymns ascended,

Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.


We thank thee that thy Church unsleeping,

While earth rolls onward into light,

Through all the world her watch is keeping,

And rests not now by day or night.


As o’er each continent and island

The dawn heads on another day

The voice of prayer is never silent

Nor dies the strain of praise away.


The sun that bids us rest is waking

Our brethren neath the Western sky,

And hour by hour fresh lips are making

Thy wondrous doings heard on high.


So be it Lord; thy throne shall never,

Like earth’s proud empires, pass away;

Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,

Till all thy creatures own thy sway.

John Ellerton, 1826 – 93.

The Realities of God.

Perhaps you love the poor, perhaps you cannot stand injustice, perhaps you are sensitive to the freshness of a child, to innocence, to purity, perhaps you appreciate nature, and perhaps you experience affection, pity, admiration?  Under all these forms you have said “Yes” to God!  You did not recognise him, but never mind.  They were realities of God.

Our love and respect for God will be judged on our love and respect for man.

Poverty of self.

 Jesus said – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven .”

Poverty is the front door of Christian life.  The poor man is he who accepts being called into question by the word of God, who allows himself to be unsettled by God’s word, who knows that it is not he who possesses faith, but that it is the faith which possesses him.

The man who knows himself to be poor before God is rich in God – not in himself but in God.  He can welcome everything.  He is in harmony with all that is real.  The only true man is the poor man.  Poverty is one of those surprising virtues, like humility; as soon as you believe you have it, you no longer do.

Genuine love always leads to poverty.  Love others and you will soon be poor.  Happy is the poor man, for he lives in joint possession with providence.  He accepts certain insecurity because he has a father in heaven and brothers on earth.  Happy the poor man, for he is free and fraternal.  He has entered the Kingdom of God .  He has begun to enjoy life, and a happiness which belongs to him forever.

The Importance of Love

Jesus asked for mercy, forgiveness, pity, the love of others.  These are more important than anything else.

The refusal to love is the one single thing that defiles a person.  The most sacred thing in the world is man.  If we love and save only one man we are doing something eternal.

Each of us who has lived his faith has experienced a death and a resurrection.  We can be renewed, we can completely transcend ourselves, and we can be regenerated.  We can experience something so good, so true, and so great that we know it for always.  We can be sure that if we love and believe in Jesus we can share his life and his eternity.

In the future man will have a fantastic growth of knowledge and power.  Faced with such powers the hungry could be fed, and much of the misery caused by disease and ignorance could be abolished.  An increasing knowledge of the causes of war, genocide, racial antagonism, poverty and many other ills could help to abolish them.  If he does not act on such knowledge and such powers, man will have to accept the charge that he levelled at the God he called almighty that he could have stopped suffering and would not.  With every increase accretion of man’s power therefore the weight of man’s moral responsibility and the potentiality of his guilt grow greater.

If all is doomed to utter extinction, including not only man’s physical environment, but all his achievement, hope and love; if death has totally and finally the last word, then only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built; but if unyielding despair were to become universal, would it offer a firm foundation for a soul’s habitation or for the future of mankind?

Christian faith constantly rises on the ground of the conquest of unbelief which it has always at its side to vex it.  The historic revelation of God was no revelation if death is triumphant.  But in the ‘not yet’ of hope, not the ‘already decided’ of despair; the man of faith, if he is really such, works for man’s fulfilment.


Kathleen Bliss

Historian, Theologen,

religious teacher,

Author and secretary of the Church

 of England Board of Education 1958 – 67.

The citadels of lust and hate with which sinners fortify themselves, crumble before someone who loves them and is not afraid.

The puzzle of nature in the raw; and a loving God

I see everywhere a being whose main ends seem to be beneficent, but whose good purposes are worked out at terrible expense of suffering; and apparently by the total sacrifice of myriads of sensitive creatures.  I see unflinching order, general goodwill, but no sympathy, no mercy; storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, sickness and death, go on without regarding us.  And we are left with a total dependence on the strength of whatever faith we can muster, that all is necessary and of paramount importance to the ultimate fate of our world and ourselves.

We toil through pain and wrong,

We fight and fly,

We love, and then ere long

Stone dead we lie,

Oh! Life, is all thy song,

Endure, and die?

“Tis finished” the saviour triumphantly cried,

“Tis finished” the tears of Gethsemane dried,

And divinity stooped to humanity’s tomb

With the light of his love to encompass its gloom.

If there exists throughout nature an invariable and uniform consistency, is nature’s great author inconsistency?  And if his essence be truth, and truth be attainable by reason, will not reason in her slow but unerring progress attain to a knowledge of it?  But while we would concede the infinitude of the divine mind, we would maintain the ability in man of an infinite increase of knowledge; and though he can never reach perfection, he may forever approximate.

How a Frenchman (Andre Frossard) felt after meeting God, and knowing him for the first time.

At 5.10 p.m. he entered a chapel in Paris , and came out at 5.15 p.m., having been taken into a friendship which is not of this world.  He went in as a sceptic and atheist and emerged a completely new man, carried forward by an immense wave of joy.  His reactions, the landscape of his mind, his intellectual scaffolding, all these things had vanished; his habits too were gone and his tastes had changed.

In the church he heard the words “spiritual life” and they seemed to be spoken to him by someone who was close at hand but invisible.  After this it seemed that the heavens opened, rising suddenly and flashing silently from the depths of the Church, from a mysterious present.  What he apprehended appeared as an indestructible crystal, totally transparent, and of great luminous blue intensity; a different world, whose brilliance and density made our world seem like the wraith of an unfulfilled dream.  What he saw was reality and truth.  He now knew that there was order in the universe, and beyond was the manifestation of God which was a presence, a person with a gentleness which was unparalleled; an active shattering gentleness, far outstripping violence, able to smash the hardest stone, and to smash something often harder than stone, the human heart.  He had an overwhelming sense of joy comparable to that of a drowning man who is rescued at the last moment.  All these impressions which he found so hard to translate into the deficient language of ideas and images, occurred simultaneously and were so telescoped the one into the other that after many years he has still not been able to digest all they contained.  Everything was dominated by the presence of him before whom he had the joy of appearing as a child who had been forgiven and who had woken up to discover that everything is a gift.

God existed:  He was here present, revealed and at the same time midden by the light which, using neither speech nor images, conveyed a knowledge and a love of all things. 

His future life was spent in God’s company, and he knew that at his death the material things of life would disappear, and gentleness and love would be his forever.

Hatred, which is anger become habitual, excludes one from the presence of God.

They hung upon his sentences with rapture; and he made them see the life within the universe, and hear the call of God in his voice.

Give me the wings of faith to rise

Within the veil, and see

The saints above, how great their joys,

How bright their glories be.

Once they were mourners here below,

And poured out cries and tears;

They wrestled hard, as we do now,

With sins, and doubts, and fears.  

I ask them whence their victory came;

They, with united breath,

Ascribe their conquest to the lamb,

Their triumph to his death.  

They marked the footsteps that he trod,

His zeal inspired their breast;

And, following their incarnate God,

Possess the promised rest.  

Our glorious leader claims our praise

For his own pattern given;

While the long cloud of witnesses

Show the same path to heaven.

Isaac Watts, 1674 - 1748


Hannah Senesh

One of Israel’s greatest national heroines.  A native of Hungary , she moved to Palestine just before World War II, and later volunteered to join the elite parachute corps formed by the British.  She dropped behind Nazi lines in Yugoslavia where she joined the Partisans and later made her way across the border to Hungary to warn the Jewish population of their impending fate.  She was captured, brutally tortured, and finally executed in 1944 at the age of 23.

From the age of 13 she kept a diary which is a statement of her innermost life, written without vanity or any posturing bravura.  Behind the diary and poems there stands an extraordinary human being:  She volunteered for the most dangerous of all jobs, took a risk and lost.

Her behaviour before members of the Gestapo and S.S. was quite remarkable.  She always stood up to them, warning them plainly of the bitter fate they would suffer after their defeat.  Curiously, these wild animals, in whom every spark of humanity had been extinguished, felt awed in the presence of this refined, fearless young girl.  They knew she was Jewish, but they knew also that she was a British paratrooper who had come to fight them.  Having been taught for years that Jews never fight back, that they will accept the vilest treatment, they were taken aback by her courage.  The warden of the prison, a notorious sadist who was credited with the death of many he had tortured with his own hands, considered it a privilege to visit her cell daily to argue with her fearless criticism of German rule, and her prophecies of an allied victory.

 The following is by Reuven Dafne who knew Hannah during her mission to Yugoslavia  

“She was aflame with the fervour of the mission.  I felt that a kind of divine spark must be burning in the depths of her being, motivating her.  She was fearless, and positive that our mission would succeed.  Never once did she consider the possibility of failure; never once did she allow us to become dispirited or discouraged.  I’ll never forget Hannah’s amazing composure under fire.  I would glance at her from time to time, lying there, pistol cocked, a heavenly radiance on her face.  I was literally overwhelmed by wonder for this unique girl, her remarkable strength of character, her courage, her integrity and unwavering dedication to our mission aroused my utmost admiration and respect.”

Hannah meets her mother in prison.

Four men led her in.  Had I not known she was coming, perhaps in that first moment I would not have recognized the Hannah of five years ago.  Her once soft, wavy hair hung in a filthy tangle, her ravaged face reflected untold suffering, her large, expressive eyes were blackened, and there were ugly welts on her cheeks and neck.  That was my first glimpse of her.”

“Seeing her in such battered condition was heart breaking.  The purple-black bruises on her face were like knife wounds in my own flesh, and I leaned over to kiss her.  The instant I embraced her, the door burst open and the jailer rushed in with his four henchmen.  He had evidently been spying on us.  He pushed us apart and said “whispering is not allowed here!  Anyway, that’s enough for today”.

Hannah goes to her death

So it was Hannah after all.  Wonderful, sparkling Hannah, who had encouraged us with her upraised thumb when we had last parted.  She was the first to go.  She, who had been so sure we would return to tell our comrades of our exploits; I felt I had to speak, but the words, strangled in my throat; eventually I managed to utter, “She was the most wonderful person I ever knew”.

We rose and stood in silence for a long while, honouring her memory the only way we could.  Then we just sat down, speechless, stunned.  Tears would not come.  I couldn’t find anything to say.  All I could hear were my cellmate’s words over and over again, “they executed Hannah...they executed Hannah...

Just before her death Hannah had written to her comrades “continue on the way, don’t be deterred.  Continue the struggle till the end, until the day of liberty comes, the day of victory for our people.”

Thus, her image and her actions lit the way for the Hungarian Jewry for whose rescue she came and for whom she sacrificed her life.

Amongst Hannah’s personal effects was this note to her mother.

Dearest Mother:

I don’t know what to say – only this:

A million thanks, and forgive me, if you can.

You know so well why words aren’t necessary.

With love forever,

Your Daughter

Written by Hannah Senesh:-

There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct.  There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living.  These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark, they light the way for mankind.

Come let us sing of a wonderful love,

Tender and true;

Out of the heart of the Father above,

Streaming to me and to you:

Wonderful love

Dwells in the heart of the Father above.


Jesus, the Saviour, this Gospel to tell,

Joyfully came;

Came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,

Sharing their sorrow and shame;

Seeking the lost,

Saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;

Why do they roam?

Love only waits to forgive and forget;

Home! Weary wanderers, home!

Wonderful love,

Dwells in the heart of the Father above.


Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,

Come and abide,

Lifting my life till it rises above

Envy and falsehood and pride;

Seeking to be

Lowly and humble, a learner of thee.


Robert Walmsley  1831-1905

The Buddha (The Wise) (About 600B.C.)

Proper name – Gotama. (Born in India )

Proclaimed four truth:-

1st The fact of suffering, of inner discord, of fear.

2nd Selfishness, pleasure of the flesh, selfish ambition – bring unhappiness

3rd Break fetters of fear, physical desires, love of self, and the soul is free.

4th – Eight fold plan – right beliefs, right ideals, right speech, right efforts, right actions, right means of earning a living, right thoughts, right meditation.

(This path leads to freedom)

Formula for a Buddhist convert –

“Glorious Lord!  Glorious Lord!  Just as if one should set up, Lord, what has been overturned, or should reveal what had been hidden, or should point out the way to one who had lost his way, or should bring a lamp into the darkness, in order that those who had eyes might see invisible things, thus has the blessed one preached the law in many ways.  I take refuge, Lord, in the blessed one, and in the teachings and in the brotherhood.  May the blessed one receive me from this day forth, while my life lasts as a lay Disciple.”

The Buddha taught that heaven and hell are states of mind, and man’s life is determined by his thought; if a man harbours thoughts of selfishness or anger or passion he is caught in a trap.  If he thinks the right thoughts he enters into joy, freedom and eternal life.  Out of suffering and sorrow, if one thinks aright, faith rises.  Faith causes joy, and a spiritual happiness which leads to serenity.  He who has this concentration can see realities.

A sick and ailing man must say to himself, “though my body is sick, my mind shall not be sick”.  Thus must you train yourself.

The reward of a pure heart is to see the spiritual world of God.

Lao Tzu (Born in China about 600 B.C.) said:-

“Requite injury with kindness.  To the not – good I will be good in order to make them good.”  He told his followers to observe nature and learn from it.  It is not the spasmodic storms and violent winds; it is the silent shining of the sun, the gentle breeze, the quiet rain, that causes the crop to grow and help mankind.  The wise man, then, will cultivate inner repose; for he who lives in excitement and hurry wastes his energy.

Lao Tzu taught that war is a tragedy and men should make war only when absolutely necessary, never because they wish to be masters of others.  He who overcomes himself is mighty.

Said Lao Tzu, “I have three precious things, which I hold fast and prize.  The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others.  Be gentle, and you can be bold; be frugal, and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others, and you can become a leader among men.

To assist man is to be a God; this is the path to eternal glory.

Pliny the Elder A.D. 23-79

True religion is a philosophy of life plus an inner experience of God.  These are requirements which must be met before communion with God is possible.

“Wherefore, O Judges, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth – that no evil can happen to a good man; either in life or after death”.

Socrates (470 – 399 B.C.)

(When sentenced to death)

Confucius (600 B.C.) (Lived at the same time as Lao Tzu)

Began teaching at 22.  He said “The only way to a better state was through better people.  The only way to make people better was to educate them.  To educate them one must know their needs and interest, their prevailing motives; their secret thoughts and longings”.  Confucius was a careful observer.  With scientific accuracy he studied his people; their life at court, and the life of the masses.  He said “The superior man composes himself before he tries to move others; makes his mind restful and easy before he speaks; thinks of virtue; thinks of the sanctions of law; is conversant with righteousness.  The small man thinks of comfort; of favours which he may receive; the mind of the mean man is conversant with gain.”

Confucius’ influence and the spread of his teachings were due to the lure of truth that was in him.  He never offered any easy road to high moral and intellectual attainments nor condoned the frailties of the flesh or the mind.

Confucius said, “The power of spiritual forces in the universe – how active it is everywhere!  Invisible to the eyes, and impalpable to the senses, it is inherent in all things, and nothing can escape its operation”…”Like the rush of mighty waters, the presence of unseen powers is felt; sometimes above us, sometimes around us.  The intelligence which comes from the direct apprehension of truth is intuition.  It is only he, in the world who possesses absolute truth who can get to the bottom of the law of his being.”

Dante (1265 – 1321) said:-

“All men on whom the higher nation has stamped the love of truth should especially concern themselves in labouring for posterity in order that future generations may be enriched by their efforts, as they themselves were made rich by the efforts of generations past.  As God is one, the human race, made in his likeness, must be one and live under a universal law which all people obey in their hearts, saying ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity’.”

“This ruler (of a war torn Europe ) must realize that the Government is not for his personal benefit to make him greater than others; but he exists for the governed, to bring them the best possible prosperity.  Only by absolute and binding moral and spiritual practices can good Government be maintained; therefore the ruler must obey God”.

The Value of Religion

Religion is the only force which has ever appeared which is able to control for any length of time hate, malice, selfishness, self-advancement at the expense of others, cruelty, falsifying, disregard of promises given, covetousness, theft on small or large scale, unbridled appetites.  If human life held nothing but these attitudes and actions and their results, humanity would be more British than the beasts.  When people cease to live for virtue, intellectual and artistic activity, reverence, sympathy, and self-control; when they harbour and encourage the hangover of the animal instincts, civilizations go down in terrible wars.

Put man and women of high character and ability in positions of prestige and they will reanimate the life of the nations.  Peace of earth will be possible only when the nations are guided by many people who can control their lower emotions, and rise above prejudice and self interest.

How shall I seek the goal to gain

While others live in fear and pain?

Should I this self of mine preserve

And fail those other selves to serve?

The structural steel for a world civilization is the moral law.  The moral law is the creator of good character.

Redemption must come through sacrifice, and sacrifice is the essence of religion.

Nothing has happened to disprove the essentials of religion, science has refuted only the superstitions.

The purpose of life is the attainment of perfection, in character, in workmanship, in the thoughts we alone hear, in the deeds we alone know of.

The moral and ethical issues taught by Christ are inescapable, and there is no abatement of the law that as a man sows so shall he reap.

Muhammad (700 A.D.)

Was brought up in a turmoil of hatred and bloody feuds, plundering of neighbours and stealing of slaves and women.  The orphan boy Muhammad grew up in the home of his uncle, and when he was about 40 he heard the voice of God calling him to proclaim to the people of Arabia the highest standard of honesty and loving kindness and goodwill towards men philanthropy, and to denounce indulgence of the animal passions licentiousness.   His consciousness of direct communion with God was so compelling that he was immediately obedient to the call.  He taught in public places; in the street, on a hillside, wherever a crowd might be, saying to the people, “There is only one God, he who is creator and Lord of heaven and earth, who ordains the sun to shine by day and the darkness to give rest at night, who in his love sends water from heaven upon the earth, who makes the palm trees grow and give forth its luscious dates, who made the stately hills and the blue sky, who teaches man to know and understand what they knew not – he is God, and there is no God but him.  He and his angel hosts cry, ‘we will hurl the truth at falsehood, and it shall smite it, and lo! It shall vanish’.”  He called his religion “Islam”, that is, surrender to the will of God.  The glorious doorway through which one entered into God’s peace was, “Thy will, not mine be done”.  Each Prophet was a trumpet blown by the breath of God, a resurrection morning calling those in the graves of disobedience to God to rise and live again.

Muhammad taught under relentless persecution for many years.  He announced to his followers that they should pray five times every day; before sunrise, at noon, in the middle of the afternoon, when the sun was setting, and before they went to bed.  Prayer, said Muhammad, must not be mere words, for “The Lord doth not regard a prayer in which the heart doth not accompany the body.  Adore God as you would if you saw him; for, if you see him not, he seeth you.”  The inspiration for Muhammad’s work was obtained from the Christian bible.  He praised the Hebrews’ religion and instructed heathen Arabia to believe in Abraham and Moses and the Prophets of Israel , and also Jesus.  His townsmen told how “he visited the sick, accepted the invitation of a slave to dinner, mended his own clothing, milked his goats, and waited upon himself.

He was merciful to prisoners taken in war, and to slaves.  He said” the nearest to me are the abstemious whoever they be, wherever they be.”  His task as Prophet was much of the time difficult and thankless; for the tribes whom he instructed had no desire to change their ways.  He had to persuade lawless men to accept God with his exalted ethical requirements and forgo their idols who had no inexorable (unyielding) standards.  He had to persuade his followers to pray to an unseen presence and believe that the presence heard and would answer them.  He was dealing with men who had never known obedience to a central authority; who had never heard of a standard of morality; and the commandment against covetousness to desire something belonging to others were much too (subtle) difficult to detect for them.  Muhammad taught the laws of justice and kindness, hygiene and self-control; and little by little educated his followers.  He decreed that one month of the year should be set apart when all Islam fasted from sunrise to sunset; each day (this) to be a time of self-discipline and prayer.  He told his followers “God is gentle and loveth gentleness”. Muhammad continued the custom of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca .  Mecca , the first home of the King and Prophet, the scene of his persecutions and his spiritual victories, became the Holy city of the new religion.  From this city Muhammad made a speech and said “Listen to my words, for I know not whether another year will be vouchsafed to me after this year.  Your lives and property are sacred and inviolable among you, until you appear before the Lord, as this day and this month are sacred for all; and remember you will have to appear before your Lord, who shall demand from you an account of all your actions.  And your slaves, see that you feed them with such food as you eat yourselves, and clothe them with what you also wear; and if they commit a fault which you are not inclined to forgive, then part from them for they are the servants of the Lord, and are not to be harshly treated.”

The pilgrimage to Mecca grew in later years into an annual visit of from a hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand Pilgrims, from many parts of the world.

Muhammad celebrated his 63rd birthday by freeing 63 slaves.  He died the following June.

Augustine (400 A.D.)

In his “confessions” Augustine tells how he learned to love God, and what his love for God meant to him.  It released him from pride, from the immoderate inordinate drive of physical instincts, from love of himself; and with this release came peace of mind, and a power to love and help others, so marvellous he could hardly describe it.  His “confessions” are his song of gratitude and praise to God.  It is a continual prayer telling God his love for him.  He concentrates his mind in adoration upon God’s attributes; his mercy, his infinitely tender love.  He sees God’s light, beautiful beyond the imagination of men.  He can find no adequate words to describe it, and falls back upon the simple declaration that it exists and can be seen by the soul that is purified.


“When you know that you have in your body but a small portion of the earth, which is vast, and a small portion of the water, which is vast, and that your frame is constituted for you to receive only a small portion of each of other things, that are vast, do you think that you have seized for yourself, by some extraordinary good fortune, intelligence alone which exists nowhere else, and that this assemblage of vast bodies, countless in number, is maintained in order by something void of reason?”

Socrates (470 – 399 B.C.)

Ralph Waldo-Emerson writes, “We grant that human life is mean; but how did we find out that it was mean?  What is the ground of this uneasiness of ours; of this old discontent?  What is the universal sense of want and ignorance, but the fine innuendo by which the great soul makes its enormous claim?”

Eternity has broken into time.  The future is secure!

Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.)

(Student of Plato)

Aristotle made stupendous findings in philosophy, ethics, politics, biology, and other sciences.  He was one of the world’s great pioneers in a branch of philosophy dealing with the principles of beauty and tastefulness, aesthetics, logic, and the development of the scientific method.

Epictetus  (300 B.C.)

Epictetus declares that men are slaves when they do what they do not want to do, or live where or as they do not want to live.  Let all things go, over which man has no control.  Let that over which he has control, his will, be supremely important.  Physically man is only a speck on the earth.  Mentally he can encompass the universe, can be one with the Gods.  Why then should man devote so much attention to his body, and neglect the significant, divine, eternal?  There is no permanent evil in the universe, for God does not miss the mark.  What seems evil is due to a narrow perspective of the seen and the unseen.  Cooperation is the law of life.  The world is one city of men below and the Gods on high.  Human beings are ordained to live for each other as parts of one body.

The highest human products are the greatest prophets.  Since God created them he must be beyond them in perfection and genius, for to him they ever aspired.

The eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the mind of man to imagine the immortal wonders prepared for those who love God.

Only the life beyond the death of the body can reveal the spiritual strength of too great to be described ineffable glory achieved through overcoming the personal problems and frustrations of this world.

Extracts from “Transforming Light” by Albert Vail (Minister)

(A great book – W. G.)

Could such an unthinkably large machine as this universe move in absolute rhythm forever unless a mind was directing it?  Every machine has a maker, the mind that planned and brought it into being.  There must then be a mind which directs the physical universe.

Every valid criticism, every demand for social justice that a man voices, implies that a better pattern is possible.  Every error presupposes truth, else how do we know it to be error?  To say a thing is evil acknowledges the existence of goodness.  Ugliness declares the existence of beauty.  Each value judgment requires for its authority those valves exist in reality.  The idea of evolution implies ever-higher values.  Every step toward perfection opens a higher vista of perfection, on and on beyond the immediate reach of man’s mind.  Each perfection, when attained becomes an existing reality.  Therefore absolute perfection wherever it may abide, is the ultimate reality, which is God.

Ideals are therefore a partial reflection of the real.  We see them as in a mirror, broken lights from the real world.  Progress in science, education, art, business, government, and good character is possible only by obeying certain standards that soar above us.  The standard of perfection by scientific research is truth; for art it is beauty and truth and the gift of expression; for Government it is the welfare and happiness of those people who are within the sphere of its sovereignty or influence.  We call these standards laws, ideals.  The will of God, for they are charged with the life of reality.

The love of perfection, which means progress, is man’s highest life.  Yet no one who aspires ever lives long enough to achieve his ideals.  As soon as he reaches a goal, another and higher opens to him.  If we as a race strive and climb and discover science and God yet are still only brain cells tied to a fleeting composition called the body which will pass away, then are we of all creatures the most pitiable, for we live to be defeated.

If God could let the most valuable people who have ever lived struggle the whole of their lives. Partially achieve perfection, and then go out of existence, God’s work and purpose for humanity would continually come to naught.

If God gives us every gift, and withholds immortality, he is like a father who brings a son into existence, trains him with devoted love and every promise of assistance until he reaches maturity, and then annihilates him.  Can we condemn such a deed in human beings, and then attribute it to God, on an everlasting scale?

Before man, was nature, with its mighty upheavals, its violent hurtling hurricanes, its crashing earthquakes, and its floods.  Of themselves these were not evil.  They became an evil when they affected man.  The savagery of wild animals, the way they kill and devour each other, is not for them unlawful, but according to their nature.

Right and wrong, good and evil appeared with man.  The laws that govern the animals permit them to prey upon each other, to fight for what they want, and get it at any cost.  In the human world this is evil, for man is more than an animal and must not be ruthlessly destroyed.

How does man know that the behaviour of wild animals is evil in him?  Because man can see that he causes suffering, a faculty the animal does not possess.  A despot when entertaining a number of guests at a dinner let loose in the room a boxful of scorpions, and commanded, on pain of death, that no one move.  It was his pleasure to watch the agony of his guests when stung.  The scorpions in themselves were not evil.  The human being who released them was the degraded one.

Century after century people do the things that create misery that all but wreck humanity, and then say there is no God.  Of a truth, God has no part in the tragedies human beings bring upon themselves and others through the misuse of their God – given freedom.

We are free to live by the laws of the animal world, or by those of the intellectual and spiritual world.  We know by long experience that to live by our lower nature brings upon us ignorance, poverty, sorrow, frustration, war, crime.  When the people who form the nations follow the laws of mutual consideration, and hold in check those who do not value these laws, the whole world will move forward simultaneously, when a nation’s belief in God and the moral law breaks down, with the result that the people discard religion as useless, they have no standard of values but their own desires.

If God forced us to be his friends, our love, our friendship would have no value.  A personality made perfect by free choices is humanity’s glory.

Life is a school in which we are meant to prepare ourselves to become companions of God.  Difficulties are a stimulus to activity and achievement; many of us demand that life should hold no troubles.  If we do have trouble, we will not believe in God.  If we do not have trouble, God is quite unnecessary to our universe.

The soul’s highest aspiration is communion with God.  When this communion is attained the answer to every personal problem is immortality; belief in an eternal world, where everyone receives justice, according to his ability and his striving.  In this immortal world no one can injure another.  Everyone is governed by perfect wisdom and love, for his own highest good.  Such a life, coming some time, makes this life well worth living.  God did not make this physical world perfect lest we become too attached to it, and fail to learn the lessons that will help us in the eternal world.  Only the life and death of the body can reveal the spiritual strength and indescribable ineffable glory achieved through overcoming the personal problems and frustrations of this world.

The problem of evil is in the main the problem of social and mental mismanagement of the resources God has given us.  When we subtract all the harm man has done to man and we have done to ourselves through lack of knowledge, spiritual education, self control; and add all the equipment science has furnished us today for the control of pestilence, dire poverty, famine for the healing of physical and metal ailments, we find we could go a long way toward eliminating evil.  God did not give us a ready-made world and ready-made instinctive habits, as he gave them to ants and birds and bees.  He made us his free partners in building a just and righteous world, revealing to us the plan and assisting us with the power to carry it into action, while waiting for us actually to create it.

The great evils and the causes of evil are ignorance, prejudice, exclusive nationalisms, greed, hatred, cruelty, selfishness, lust and fear; and these are preventable.  Religion and science working together can destroy them.  The method o prevention is education:  Science and religion working hand in hand to eradicate them.  When education in true democracy, brotherhood, knowledge of God as the Father of all races and nations, wins in the war with education for racial fanaticism, class struggle, and the lust for domination and conquest, then a large part of the problem of evil will vanish.

Science and evolution have brought us to the crossroads.  The only way now possible is to follow the laws which lead from the jungle to the security of a permanent peace.

In addition to the immediate awareness of the surrounding physical universe many mystics have been aware of an equally vivid experience of the sunshine and breezes and life of an invisible universe which sustains and surrounds the physical.  The characteristics of this invisible universe are, love, a sense of freedom, peace, quickening of the intellect, and joy.  These phenomena are so real that the physical world grows pale and unstable beside them.  The mystics thus discover that God is a reality and that he may be found if one follows the path to him.  Those who experience God’s presence enter a life so glorious that no calamity is comparable to losing this inner reality.

Science and inspiration:  The Hebrew Prophets were brought forth into a larger place than their contemporaries knew, and were clearly aware of God.  Then did they cry that God was everywhere, like the light inhabiting eternity, infinitely merciful, so glorious that only his signs might be seen by mortal man.  One of his signs was inspiration, from which came true prophecy.  By means of their inspiration and their knowledge of the future, these Prophets transcended the childish ideas of their age, declared the solution of many social problems, (see Isaiah – chap. 53) and anticipated the character of the true Messiah.  They soared above and ahead of their time because they lived, at least for the moment of their inspiration, close to the timeless world, in the face of a hostile society they kept burning the fire which would otherwise have died out.

Jeremiah made prophecies which every intelligent person of his nation counted impossible:  That the Jews would be taken captive and carried off to Babylonia and after seventy years would return to Palestine .  For his heresy Jeremiah was grievously punished.  Yet his prophecies were fulfilled.

Isaiah (see chap. 53) prophesied that the Jewish Messiah would in no way resemble a worldly King.  He would be meek and lowly, and would be martyred by his enemies.

The Prophet Zechariah (see chap. 9) saw the Messianic King entering Jerusalem , riding on an ass.  Zechariah wrote, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem :  Behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass...and he shall speak peace unto the nations; and his domination shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth”.

In A.D. 100 probably not a philosopher or man of science in the Greeco – Roman world would have conceded it possible that Jesus’ poor uneducated followers could spread his Gospel.  Yet the prophecies were fulfilled that his teachings would be known throughout the world.

These Prophets recorded in the bible, announced, far ahead of their time, events and truths which, they declared, were given them by God.

Many scientists and philosophers have declared that new knowledge comes through disciplined intuition or inspiration.

Of Michael Faraday the great physicist, John Tyndall wrote, “We have in him flashes of wondrous insight and utterances which seem less the product of reasoning than of revelation.”

Of Pasteur, John Tyndall wrote, “He has a wonderful gift of intuitive vision which discerns in advance the new issues to which existing data point.

Jules Henri Poincare, the famous mathematician, tells how he would think over and struggle with a problem; and as a complete surprise the momentous solution would come into his mind; when he was entering an omnibus perhaps, or walking in the country.  The idea would always have “The characteristic of Brevity, suddenness and immediate certainty.” 

Professor Bancroft, the chemist, in his “methods of Research”, records the immense import of the “Flash of Genius” to scientific discovery.

The chief source of the genius of Disraeli was his intuition.

William James (1842 – 1910) American psychologist and philosopher said “We have a right to believe the physical order to be only a partial order...The external staging of a many storied universe in which spiritual forces have the last word and are eternal”.  Take away this assurance, he says, from those who have it, and “all the light and radiance of existence are gone”.  William James was convinced that what the naturalist calls “normal” is “a small part of actual experience...  Other kinds of consciousness bear witness to a much wider universe of other kinds of consciousness bear witness to a much wider universe of experience.  He studied this wider experience in saints, writers, and many others and found it gave them knowledge; also an indomitable spirit which broke down barriers, opened a path of action, and enabled them to follow that path.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet and essayist (1803 – 82), one of America ’s greatest thinkers said his original ideas came to him from the vaster region of his mind, which he believed communed with the soul.  As these ideas came he wrote them down in his journal, and later wove them into his essays and poems.  He writes, “Man is a stream whose source is hidden.  Always our being is descended into us from we know not where.  When I watch that flowing river, which, out of regions I see not, pours for a season its stream into me, I am but a surprised spectator of this spiritual ethereal water, from some alien energy the visions come”.  Genius he was convinced “as access to inspiration; this energy does not descend into individual life on any other condition than entire possession.  It comes to the lowly and simple; it comes to whosoever will put off what is foreign and proud; it comes as insight; it comes as serenity and grandeur”.

Professor Oliver Elton in his “memoir” of C.E. Montague gives a manuscript which Montague never finished.  In this beautiful document Montague (distinguished thinker and writer) describes how there came to him moments when the bondage of self was broken and “you were for an instant ennobled and saw like a God” into a glorious world, vaster, higher, more luminous than our ordinary consciousness.  With this world we are connected.  It is in us as water is in the flower and the tree.  “It seems to me,” writes Montague, “That if I could sustain my own mind and heart at the pitch of clarity and tenderness to which they rose and stood poised for some of those odd seconds...then I should be in heaven...                                                                                     

A kindred form of rapture is achieved, in greater or less measure, by every artist of high gifts, “The “Artist’s” own mind, or some part of it, seems to look on at the happy miracle from without, enchanted or awed by the strange uncalculated rightness of each effortless touch that he gives to the thing that takes shape in his hands...and, yet again, a kindred rapture may visit a man suddenly faced with peril and opportunity in a battle or an accident.  He is released – that is all you can say.  Fear and desire, his two keepers through life, to preserve and enchain him, are suddenly gone, and he goes to self-sacrifice as lightly as a child draws its breath, with so perfect a freedom from all sense of effort, danger, or pain that presently he is surprised and abashed...When people credit him with heroism.”

Amos* cried despairingly “The word of God is sudden, tremendous, awesome, “A consuming fire”.  It strikes at human superstitions like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.  When the lion roars who can but fear; when God speaks who can but prophesy.”

(*Amos -  Biblical Prophet who lived middle 8th century B.C.)

To John on Patmos; and to Ezekiel* by the river Chebar, came glorious visions, like motion pictures from the eternal world flashed upon the screens of their minds, showing the present, the future and their part in them.

(*Ezekiel was a Prophet who lived in 586 B.C.  His life was spent in exile in Babylon .)

There are different levels of inspiration, to some God comes as an impulse to self-control, to speak a kind word, to forbear with others.  To those whom he has singled out to do his particular work he comes in grandeur.

The inner light of civilization:  Wars of aggression are today intolerable; and the pitifulness of nations forced to receive the blows of the mechanical and human war machines wrings our hearts as never before.  For such oppression is now outlawed by reason, and by all the best human beings who cry that they will not be dragged back into the jungle from which they have struggled but insist that they shall enjoy the advantages of their life as sons of God.  For they have climbed high enough on the mountain of evolution to see and appreciate this destiny.

We find that doubt fills every mind, that no one knows where he came from,

Where he is going, how he thinks.

No one knows how he inherited characteristics from his ancestors, or how much he has derived from his environment.  Not even a genius knows how his ideas are original:  Some visions of beauty and truth came into his consciousness with a rush of inspiration; whence they came he does not know.  No one can comprehend the nature of life and living.  The essence of our mind or soul or nerve currents, how consciousness arises, what happens in the cortex of the brain even in the simplest sensations, no one can tell.  Nor can those whom we question tell us our possibilities, our future, our immortal destiny, what makes for our ultimate degradation or exaltation, for inner peace or turmoil, for life or death. Knowledge of ourselves, even with the assistance of the most advanced psychology, is but a drop; our ignorance is the ocean.  The masters of the sciences are at a loss to find our connection with the unseen source of our life.  Yet we insist that unless we fully understand God, his abilities, his mind, his activities, his plans, we will not believe in him.  The Prophets tell us the way to become conscious of God’s presence; few of us bother to try it out.  Our interest in the physical universe causes us to go to incredible lengths to discover any one of its forces and secrets.  Our interest in God is casual.  Civilization depends for its vitality and continuance upon a moral, mental, and spiritual education, which in turn depends upon that inmost life force.  God’s guidance to his fathomless knowledge.

Civilizations are saved from disintegration when the people who form them prefer virtue.  This is accomplished when educators make good thoughts, good words, and good deeds more attractive than their opposites.

Keats wrote:

All lovely tales that we have heard or read;

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

Nor do we merely feel these essences

For one short hour,... they become a cheering light

Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,

That, whether there be shine, or gloom o’ercast,

They always must be with us, or we die.

The parents in the homes, the teachers in the schools and universities who can direct the youth of the nations to the books, the pictures, the people in whom virtue is shining – teachers who not only recognize truth but have themselves the power to live it – can transform the world.  The certainty of the love of God which the great Prophets brought to many souls quickened them into a life far beyond any they had thought possible.

Faith is the pathway to light.  Faith is built upon evidence.  Faith is also a decision of the will.  We assemble proofs of God’s existence, and the evidences of his love.  We assemble from many sources evidences for God and immortality.  We weigh this evidence rationally.  Then we make a decision of the will.  Faith in God’s love for humanity releases the deepest powers of the soul, and those priceless elements of personality – confidence and kindness.  It quickens men and women of genius; it cleanses and unites the social order.  It gives the science of education and objective, all men a sense of human values, art a new and divine inspiration.  It makes clear that unity of mankind which will result in universal peace.  Belief in God is the immediate sanction for belief in an immortal life in the soul of man.  God is absolutely impartial; therefore all humanity is endowed with immortality.

The greatest attainment of the mind is to recognize truth and act upon it.  The highest truth is God’s presence.  No one can know God’s presence without loving God.  No one can love God and not enlist on his side.  He is working for a divine social order among all nations and classes, impartially.  As God will win in the end, those who enlist with him are bound to be victorious.

The world today awaits a universal synthesis. (Combining of separate parts to form a complex whole).  The human law divides.  The divine law unites.  The human law says, my Prophet has sealed up revelation forever; God can never speak again as he spoke through Moses, Muhammad, Jesus; no one will ever have the innate knowledge of Confucius, the perfect illumination of the Buddha.  The divine law says, you cannot limit God.  The law of evolution requires that he send his children on earth a succession of Prophets.

Each Prophet of God builds upon the mission of his predecessors and, renewing eternal truths, applies them to the needs of the age in which he is living.  In the international day that is coming the names of the great world Prophets as revealers of one moral law will permeate the universe.

In the future we have the inspiring hope of thousands of years to come when God’s plan and laws will be accepted by humanity as the best way of life.  It was such a hope which caused the early Christians to hold so tenaciously to their belief in the Christ that they eventually saved their world from the savagery of Roman decadence and the Northern tribes.  What the Christ spirit accomplished once can be accomplished again.  In the perspective of thousands of years of time perhaps this present period of disintegration may not be so long as it now seems.

The strongest force for beneficent social control is a world religion at the Zenith of its influence, when it guides, unites, purifies, animates, and glorifies the moral, intellectual, artistic, and social life of many nations.

Religion is the science of spiritual dynamics which realizes that the first and last thing in knowledge is the knowledge of God; that everything gets out of date but God; when everything crashes, God remains.

On that we might learn in our youth how to know God.  God is beauty.  Every beautiful landscape, every lovely mountain scene is his thought.  God is wisdom; every act, every idea that makes for progress, for social betterment was first thought by him.  God is truth, reality, love.  Whenever beauty or wisdom or true love enters our mind, God comes to us.

We stand in the dawning light of a world springtime of science and invention and brotherhood.  The old world is ending.  The new is beginning.  The sun seems in the evening to be fading out.  In reality it is preparing for a new sunrise.

“There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything.  I feel it, though I do not see it.  It is this unseen power which makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses.  It transcends the senses.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)


Mencius wrote, “When heaven is about to confer a great office on anyone, it first exercises his mind with suffering and his sinews and bones with toil; it exposes his body to hunger and subjects him to extreme poverty; it confounds his undertakings.  In these ways it stimulates his mind, hardens his nature and supplies his incompetence’s.  Life springs from sorrow; and calamity and death from ease and pleasure.  When men are possessed of intelligent virtue and prudence in the management of affairs it generally arises from their having been in distress.”

The Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, Evangelical Minister, spent many years in underground church work in his native Rumania , which is under Communist rule.  He spent 14 years in prison, being tortured during the whole of this time.  He was 3 years in solitary confinement.  This was all done in the name of Christ.

He said:  One great lesson arose from all the beatings, torturing and butchery of the Communists:  That the spirit is master of the body.  Often when tortured, we felt the torturing, but it seemed as something distant and far removed from the spirit which was lost in the glory of Christ and his presence with us.  I don’t feel frustrated to have lost many years in prison.  I have seen beautiful things.  I myself have been among the weak and insignificant ones in prison, but have had the privilege to be in the same jail with great saints, heroes of faith, who equalled the Christians of the first centuries.  They went gladly to die for Christ.  The spiritual beauty of such saints and heroes of faith can never be adequately described. 

Part of a letter from a Rumanian Communist girl, who was sent to prison because she became a Christian:  “Since the Lord revealed to me the deep mystery of his holy love, I consider myself to be the happiest in the world.  The persecutions which I have to endure, I consider as a special grace.  I am glad that the Lord gave me from the first days of my faith the great happiness to suffer for him.  Pray all for me that I may remain faithful to the Lord to the end.  (She was eventually sentenced to slave labour, and was never heard of again).

This is true Christianity in action; which is taking place in all Communist controlled countries.                                                                                 W.G

Tell me the old, old story

Of unseen things above,

Of Jesus and his glory,

Of Jesus and his love.

Tell the story simply,

As to a little child;

For I am weak, and weary,

And helpless, and defiled.

Tell me the story slowly,

That I may take it in –

That wonderful redemption,

God’s remedy for sin.

Tell me the story often,

For I forget so soon;

The early dew of morning

Has passed away at noon.

Tell me the story softly,

With earnest tones and grave;

Remember I’m the sinner

Whom Jesus came to save.

Tell me the story always,

If you would really be

In any time of trouble

A comforter to me.

Katherine Hankey 1834 – 1911

Jesus, friend of little children,

Be a friend to me;

Take my hand and ever keep me close to thee

Teach me how to grow in goodness

Daily as I grow;

Thou hast been a child and surely

Thou dost know.

Step by step, O lead me onward,

Upward into youth;

Wiser, stronger, still becoming

In thy truth

Never leave me nor forsake me,

Ever by my friend,

For I need thee from life’s dawning

To its end.

Walter John Mathams, 1853 -1931

End of Book Two.

In this book I have tried to find the nature and the reality of God as seen through the thoughts of his many followers, who have served him in their writings.  Their faith has shone brightly, and with great inspiration throughout their many, and varied books.

As a result of my reading, my own faith and understanding of God have been greatly increased.

I hope that others, who may read my extracts etc., might likewise learn something of the Glory of God and his Creation.

W.W. Gibson

5 May 1977