Rector's Reflections - 20 May

Rector’s Reflections 

Monday 20th May 2024

Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire

In last Friday’s reflections, I shared some thoughts on the second verse of the hymn, “Come, Hoy Ghost, our Souls inspire”. In today’s reflections, I wish to share some thoughts on the verse which follows. This third verse reads as follows:

Anoint and cheer our soiled face,

With the abundance of thy grace:

Keep far our foes, give peace at home,

Where thou art guide no ill can come.

This verse asks for the help of the Holy Spirit in two ways.

To start with,  it asks us to focus on the abundance  of God’s grace.  I think we often find the concept of abundance difficult.  I wonder why this is?  Perhaps it reflects the day to day experience of  dealing with organisations and institutions which often appear to be under-resourced. We often hear people saying there are not enough Doctors’ surgeries, or nurses, or NHS dentists, or Bobbies on the beat. We can often feel that we are living in a world where our public services are under-funded , and it can feel that our age is an Age of Scarcity rather than an Age of Abundance. And even institutions which can seem to be well-resourced can soon find themselves in need of additional resources because of changing circumstances. I remember once being called up by someone who was seeking donations on behalf of a worthy but already well-endowed institution. I said to them that my personal resources were limited, and that I didn’t see why I should give money to make a wealthy institution even wealthier.  The response from the fund-raiser surprised me. They said, yes, their institution was indeed wealthy, but it wasn’t  wealthy enough!  Circumstances had changed and they needed more money.  What intrigued me about the reply was that it could be used to justify continuous and never-ending fund-raising, because clearly, the institution would never be “wealthy enough”!   Even an institution with an abundance of resources felt that their resources weren’t abundant enough. 

This sort of thinking transfers very easily to our thinking about God. Is God’s grace and forgiveness really enough?  Can we really trust God to give abundantly?  We need God’s help in order to understand His generous, unbegrudging character.  In God’s economy, we are always in an Age of Abundance, and never in an Age of Scarcity.  God’s grace is always sufficient.

After reminding us of the abundance of God’s grace, our hymn goes on to face some uncomfortable realities in many people’s lives- the sort of things which  we sometimes feel we have to hide from God, because they’re too embarrassing or too painful. “Keep far our foes, give peace at home; Where thou art guide, no ill can come”.  I think many of us experience times when we feel that there are people or forces out to get us. Hence we are invited to pray for the Holy Spirit to protect us from our foes.  I think also many of us experience times when our familiar surroundings have turned into a bit of a battle-ground- perhaps our workplace has turned into a bit of nightmare, or  there are disputes and tensions in the family life. In such situations, it is only natural to pray for peace at home.   And there are those times when  we are worried about what might lie ahead – we are fearful that if we make the wrong decision, we might cause harm to ourselves or to others. And so we pray for God’s guidance, confident that “where thou art guide, no  ill can come.”

In a nutshell, this third verse reminds us of the abundance of God’s love, and invites to pray to the Holy Spirit for the protection we need as we face up to the challenges of life.

Where might we feel that we are under attack? Where do we yearn for peace? Where are worried about the possibility of harm?  Let us bring these and other concerns before our Heavenly Father, confident in the abundant grace of our loving,  generous God.

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