Monday, June 20, 2016

Michael Ramsey: Fret not, only believe

In a recent post I listed some of my Anglican mentors. I have subsequently had reason to revisit some of the writing of one of them. I came across something I think is worth sharing:

The Christian gospel is largely concerned with the issue of fretting and not fretting. We live in a fretting world, and the gospel can be paraphrased "fret not, only believe".
. . .

There is certainly much to fret about. In the world there are ugly and frightening spectres; the contrasts of affluence and poverty; racial conflict mounting higher; the drift of the Western democracies into spiritual aimlessness. Who would not fret with these spectres at the door? Not only the world but the Church as an institution makes you fret. Many, I know, find it difficult to serve it with happy contentment. Sometimes it frets by its old-fashionedness, its inability to reform itself, its shirking of challenging issues. And sometimes it frets in the opposite way: by a seeming loss of historic values, by a playing down of the supernatural, by a concern to be "with it". If we are ourselves conceited, we fret about what others in the Church are doing or not doing in a "we and they" superiority; if we are humble, we include ourselves within the criticism. In either case, we may fret; and a kind of nervous fretting can bedevil the Church's life. So the world may fret you, the Church may fret you, and there will be the frettings of a more personal kind always round the corner. Tiredness, monotony, staleness, the small results which seem to come from immense expenditure of labour. So, all in all, there will be times when you find yourself saying, "Who will show us any good?"

So a mist comes to hide from your awareness some of the realities in which you believe: sin and judgement, mercy and joy. The answer is drawn from the scriptures, from our divine Lord, from the lives of the saints, and from your own experience as a Christian. The answer is a deep, sparkling well of truth, which is Christ himself, and from it our fears are washed away and our thirsty spirits are refreshed.

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