Brother George Linnegar, Priest Of St Thomas A Becket At Cliffe, Lewes

Witsunday sermon

Whitsunday – 4.6.17

We have just heard from John’s Gospel words of Jesus, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of truth”.

The Comforter in the Greek text is parakletos Advocate, Comforter, Helper, aids given us as promised through love, trust, faith and obedience in Jesus Christ Our Lord. Words, concepts, designations that occur often in a Christian context. But no mention of a simple word that escapes our attention – and that word is courage.

Courage which stands us in good stead when we are reluctant to embrace faith, hope and charity. Useful because we recognise in our hearts that we are called to be brave, determined, resolute. A recognition of courage that mysteriously speaks within us – telling us of the true nature of man – who is called to be holy – to be separate.

Pondering courage Dietrich Bonhoeffer comes to mind. He was in a plot to kill Hitler and was hanged by the Nazis near the end of the War.

Sir Winston Churchill comes to mind with his unforgettable words, “We shall never surrender”.

Mother Teresa too – in Calcutta, caring for the poor – whose whole life was given for the sake of others.

Women and men who act and speak for the sake of others. They who radiate inspiration causing others to go and do likewise, but requiring courage.

Courage, in face of ridicule of contemporaries. Courage to attempt things we have imagined beyond our reach. Courage to pray more when there is much else we would rather do. Courage to take up our cross – whatever form it might take.

Courage – for we are not alone. D.Ford – a theologian – writing of the Future of Christian Theology – says, “The Holy Spirit is probably the most exciting, disturbing and uncertain topic in Christian theology.

Exciting – disturbing – uncertain – requiring courage. Bold enough to emulate Our Lord of whom we hear in St. Luke’s Gospel. (Ch.4 vv.18-21) :

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.   And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

Amen

© Br George