|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Two days ago, Bishop Jonathan broke open the beginning of this great teaching section of Luke’s gospel on prayer, by reminding us of the centrality of Jesus’s statement ‘only a few things are necessary’. Yesterday, Jo brought us a succinct summary of Luke’s raw rendering of the Lord’s Prayer under five headings all beginning with P, praise and proclamation, leading to providence, penitence and protection. To those five Ps today I want to add three more, Perseverance, Poverty and Purification. I hope these three will shed a little more light on the great P that unites them, Prayer...
Once upon a time, the story goes, there was a court jester. For many years he was very popular with the king. The jester made him laugh and brought joy and well-being to everyone he met. That country was indeed a kingdom of joy and well-being. Then things started to go wrong in the kingdom. The king’s chief advisers, the politicians, became greedy and unjust and the people grew fearful and violent. Their humour they had became dark and cruel. The jester’s wit was no longer appreciated, especially when he spoke in ways which seemed to give comfort to the poor and marginalised. A campaign grew among the powerful to get rid of him. So the king, though he still remembered liking the jester very much, agreed to condemn him to death. To honour his past regard however, the king said that the jester could choose how he was to die. ‘For example, I could have you hung, drawn and quartered’, the king said, ‘or thrown to hungry wolves, or boiled alive, or shot at dawn by a firing squad, or, like the aristocracy, you might have your head chopped off with a silver sword. It is your choice: there are many ways. How would you like to die? You choose and I will decree it.’ So the jester thought for a brief moment and then answered, as quick as a flash: ‘ in that case, my Lord, I would choose to die..’ He paused… ‘by old age.’ And the king roared with laughter and gave the jester his wish.
Now what, you may say, has that to do with our Gospel reading this morning? Well, just this: in a sense, that jester embodied three key aspects of Jesus’ teaching - firstly, by not fearing; secondly. by not clinging to possessions or position; and thirdly, by above all remaining awake to the presence of God’s kingdom, whatever happens at any moment. For this is the gift of Jesus, the greatest spiritual Jester of our lives: the One who shares the divine laughter and the invitation to share in the true kingdom of God’s love...