Whatever the truth of all this, tradition from the earliest times attests that the last sermon he preached before his death contained these instructions; ‘be joyful, keep the faith, do the little things you have seen me do.’ A kind of classic three point sermon, ‘proving’ that even in the sixth century fledgling Anglicanism was flourishing in Wales!
So let’s take his supposed words and reflect on them for a couple of minutes. Firstly ‘be joyful’. It is not always easy to be joyful, especially when life gets tough or even just busy. Very quickly we can become self absorbed and start to behave as though everything depends on us, when of course in reality everything depends on God. Accessing joy demands letting go - letting go of the need to be in the right, to be the centre of attention, to be in charge. Joy thrives when we let go of our self importance and let things and people be themselves. Joy is like a little bird, gentle and bright, that is easily scared away by the stomping boots of self regard. So attend to your joyfulness, for where there is genuine joy, God is always near at hand.
Secondly ‘keep the faith’. How do we keep the faith and pass it on for future generations? With several generations now largely absent from our churches, it has fallen to the great grandparents to keep the faith, to tell the stories, and perform the practices that hold our faith together. Faith is hard to learn from a book. It needs flesh and blood to pass on not just its teachings, but its ways of life, its character. We know what it is to be a good Christian not just by reading the Bible but by encountering real live people who live and breathe their faith. This is why our Diocesan venture into Generations Together is so important. We cannot keep the faith without each other
And finally ‘do the little things’. It’s always the little things isn’t it that we remember. David was noted for his kindness to the poorest of the poor - hence the choice of gospel passage today. Something of the light of Christ shone through his actions and that is what drew others to his preaching. So let us attend to the little things, the little words we say, the small actions we take to brighten another’s day or make it harder. It is very easy to get in the way of the light of God in another’s life, by a careless word or thoughtless action. The true Saints like David are the ones that know how to get out of the way, so that God’s light can shine through. This does not demand heroic action or unusual feats. It asks for daily deliberate choices of kindness, gentleness and patience.
So today, as David suggested may we be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things. In the name of Christ. Amen
by Penny Jones, for St David's Day 2018