Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Second Coming

Sermon on Luke 21: 20-36 (Daniel 7: 9-14), St Mathew’s, Oxford, 27 November 2011

This is a sermon about the second coming of Christ: what we should expect and how we should wait for it. As it is just the first Sunday in Advent I thought I could get away with not talking about Christmas.

Two verses stand out for me from the Gospel reading we heard just now. The first of these two verse (27) reads: ‘And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’. ‘With power and glory’ is the theme for this service’ according to our service sheet and for once I will try and stick to this theme – or at least come back to it as much as possible. The other verse which stands out for me from our passage is the last verse (36),‘But watch at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man’.

Now sermons on the second coming – in my view - have a tendency to sound unbelievable. This is for a variety of reasons which I will go into later but a aim of my sermon is to make the second coming sound more believable – to convince you – if you need convincing that it’s true – and that Jesus will come again in power and glory.

Sermons on the second coming also have a tendency to be a bit depressing and guilt inducing, but my aim is to try and avoid leaving you depressed and anxious but hopeful. But I don’t think you can get away with some doom and gloom when talking about the second coming. The Bible is fairly clear – from Daniel to Revelation – with Jesus’ predictions in between – that the end times will be accompanied by considerable distress. Jesus says here (25), ‘And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.‘

But this doom and gloom is only half the story, the other half is that Jesus is coming again with power and glory to rescue us from the doom and gloom. Today’s gospel reading is essentially good news.

So two aims for this sermon: to leave you believing and hopeful.

Firstly let’s look at the believability of the second coming. As I said I think the second coming seems to be unbelievable for a variety of reasons. Two things are to blame here: modern science and our big egos. But another factor is that Jesus seems to taking a long time to return, so I’ll take each of these issues in turn.

So firstly I would suggest that the seeming un-believability of the second coming is a function of our modern scientific view of the world. Miracles don’t happen these days or do they? Christians may agree that they happened during Jesus’ lifetime – culminating in the miracle of the resurrection. But nowadays it seems a ‘big ask’, as they say, to imagine Jesus returning – particularly in the way the Bible suggests he will return even for Christians. Jesus says in today’s reading that he will return in a cloud with power and glory echoing what Daniel says in Chapter 7 verse 13. ‘I saw in the night visions and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man’.

I don’t quite know what to say about this. I am a scientist. I basically share the modern scientific view. On the other hand I have witnessed one or two miracles in my life. I think God healed me at one point from a rather nasty life-threatening disease. If I can believe in this miracle of healing – why does it seem unbelievable to me that Jesus should – at some point - return in a cloud with power and glory?

One thing here. Science has taught us much about the beginning of the universe and of the origin of our species. It seems fairly easy – at least to me – to reconcile what science says here with the Biblical account. But science also makes predictions about the future for our species and of our universe. It suggests that the our species will end in extinction – like all other species that have ever existed on this planet; that our planet will be burned to destruction as the sun comes to an end – as other stars, similar to our sun, have been observed to end - and there are various theories as to the end of the universe: one being that it will end in a big crunch to parallel the big bang. A more likely theory is that the universe will end in a sigh rather than a bang as everything just spreads out more and more thinly. But whatever - none of these scientific theories of the ultimate end of times seems to leave much space for Jesus retuning on a cloud with power and glory.

Secondly and perhaps more importantly I think the second coming is unbelievable to those of us who have been accustomed to believe that we human beings are in control of things. For at least 2000 years and increasingly so during the last 100, and particularly those of us who live in developed countries – we human beings have considered ourselves to be the masters of the planet. OK there has been the odd natural disaster, the odd disease, the odd economic crisis to cope with but generally we have felt ourselves to be in charge. Or at least we have felt that if we only just put our mind and ingenuity to it, that there is no problem too big for us to solve.

Modern science does seem to have solved some big problems. The big problem that is usually mentioned here is infectious disease – TB, small pox, cholera and the like – and the scientific solutions to these problems – in the form of preventive immunisation and drug therapies – have generally been almost universally thought to be good. I say ‘almost universally’ because of course modern medicine is partly responsible for there being too many people on this planet.

There are two other big problems that modern science has solved which in solving them have created problems of their own. These two problems were connected with energy and food. In the very old days there wasn’t much energy around: some renewables: sunlight, wind, water power; a bit of wood and of course human energy: so we couldn’t do much. However once we discovered that thing called oil we could do want we wanted. In Roman times it was only the Emperor who could travel to foreign countries for a holiday on a sunny beach, have a hot bath every day whatever the weather, eat ice-cream and imported fruit whenever he wanted. Now we all live like Roman Emperors and the reason for this is oil and other fossil fuels. We only began seriously to start exploiting oil around and coal around the mid 1800s.

The other problem that modern science solved in the early 1900s was how to make the land more productive. In particular two Germans Harber and Bosch discovered how to convert nitrogen in the air into nitrate and nitrites in the soil – artificial fertiliser in other words - and modern industrial agriculture was born. It is estimated that one third of the Earth’s population are alive – purely because of the Harber-Bosch process for making artificial fertilisers. Note that the making of these fertilisers would not be possible without oil – or a similar form of energy.

You can perhaps see where I am going. Modern science – for all the good things it has brought human beings – or some human beings at least – like longer lives and ice-cream has also created problems and now we are beginning to see the outworking of these problems in the shape of global warming – the result of using up the oil two quickly. But it’s not just global warming that is the problem but it’s also other related problems – such as running out of oil. It is not that science – in theory at least – couldn’t perhaps solve these problems but I think we can see that human ingenuity and science has a double edge to it. It solves problems but creates others and this is because – and we fool ourselves otherwise – we are not in control of creation or even just the planet on which we live.

And it’s not just the physical world that we cannot control as much as we think we can or like to. It’s even the economic world – the market. Witness the efforts of today’s politicians in much of the world to control the beast that we humans have created – the so called free-market. It’s very freedom means that human beings cannot stop things happening like collapsing banks and now collapsing economies.

The hubris of man and our belief that we are in control and not God is a theme which is threaded through the bible from Genesis to Revelation. The Tower of Babel is one of the first stories of human beings’ attempt to live without God but many of Jesus’ parables also speak to this idea. The parable of the rich fool who has a good harvest, pulls down his barns and builds larger ones, but that night dies – could be explicitly aimed at modern industrial farming. But today’s parable of the fig tree is at least partly about this idea too.

Since this parable of the fig tree is about the end times, one might have thought that Jesus would have set it at harvest time when leaves fall rather than burst. Harvest is a metaphor Jesus commonly uses for his parables about the end times so presumably his setting it in spring is deliberate. One thing he seems to be saying here is that we humans can do nothing about whether a tree comes into leaf or not but we know what it means – summer is coming. So too when we can see things happening around us – we can see what they mean if only we want to – but we often cannot actually do anything about them – just as we cannot control whether the fig tree comes into leaf.

So to summarise where I have got to: I am suggesting that big science with its distrust – if not outright antipathy to miracles - and big human egos have left no room for a second coming and yet Jesus says he will come again in power and glory.

But before I come to the hope that promise brings I want to touch on a third and final reason why I think the second coming might seem to be unbelievable and that is that Jesus clearly hasn’t returned during the last 2,000 years. That seems a long time, particularly when Jesus himself seemed to think, and the early Christians seemed to believe, that his return was imminent.

In our passage from Luke (32) Jesus says ‘Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place’. Now the words ‘this generation’ are ambiguous here: Does Jesus mean ‘this generation to whom I (Jesus) are speaking’ or ‘this generation who are beginning to see the signs of the end times’? The first disciples clearly thought that he meant he meant their generation. We now have to interpret this saying as meaning the generation who begins to see signs of the end times or we have to think that Jesus was mistaken.

Now in the parallel passages to the Luke passage we heard this morning, in Matthew and Mark, Jesus says that we – his followers - would not know the precise hour of his return until it happened. But this not to say – as the Luke version stresses – that there won’t be signs of his imminent return as the parable of the fig tree suggests and in consequence we must – because Jesus commands us to - ‘Watch at all times’.

Now Christians, and indeed others, have – throughout the ages – tended to think that things going on around them are signalling the end times. Of course they were wrong in the past but one day they will be right. And of course they might be right in this day and age.

One reason why that I personally think they may be right in this day and age is global warming. It doesn’t seem to me credible that we as a species will survive what we are doing to the planet unless God steps in to help us. Of course I might be wrong: we human beings – using our ingenuity and science may be able to find a solution to this problem – but global warming is a problem – it seems to me of such a magnitude that will be incredibly difficult to solve by ourselves. We will need God’s help.

But so much for the believability of the second coming. I said that the second of aim of my sermon was to leave you hopeful. So two things to say here. Firstly that hope is not just a command it’s a gift and secondly something about why we are to have hope.

Firstly hope as a gift. I think we can be clear that hope is something we are commanded to have (like faith and love) but hope is also a gift from God (like faith and love). Hope is also something that has a future direction to it. We cannot hope for things that have happened or even only happening now. We hope for what is to come. And in the end we cannot know what is to come we can only hope for the best as they say.

But there is really no choice in the matter. God gives us hope for the future – and we are to have it. Hope like hubris is a theme of the bible from Genesis to Revelation. One of the first disasters in Genesis is the flood – after which God promises Noah, ‘Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth’ (Genesis 9: 11). This is the first of a series of promises from God that whatever happens not everything will be destroyed. It may look – at the moment that we are trashing the planet – but God is in control – he will not let it be completely destroyed.

So we are to have hope. But what does this mean? Are we to be passive or active in our hope? Those who think we should be active in our hope are concerned to do something about the signs of the end times that we can see. So for example those of us who see global warming as a threat to the existence of our species – or even the lives or our children – may seek to make every effort to cut down on the fossil fuels – the oil, coal and so forth, that we are using either directly or indirectly. This active hope underlies initiatives such as Low Carbon South Oxford. I do think as Christians we are called to be active in our hope but sometimes we unable to respond to this call or command. And this is where hope as a gift from God comes in.

So secondly why we are to have hope. In looking at the predictions of the end times we are often tempted to concentrate on the misery that is to come. But this is only half the story as I said at the beginning, Jesus says he is coming in power and glory. Yes the end times might be bad but we have his promise that he will come to sort things out. Our God is a god who rescues. And again this is theme threaded through the whole of the Bible.

God rescued the Israelites from Egypt. He rescues Daniel’s friends from the burning fiery furnace; there are countless stories in the Bible where God rescues. And of course he rescues us individually and corporately through the saving action of his son Jesus. So we can be confident that when it comes to the end times and he returns in power and glory he will save his world and all his people from destruction. We can be also confident because Jesus says so himself (28)) ‘Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’.

So finally when I said that the aim of this sermon was to leave you believing and hopeful, I wasn’t meaning to imply that I myself could give you belief and hope. It is only God who can and this is why I think Jesus finishes his predictions about the future with the command to watch and pray. Watching with waiting is a principal theme of Advent but it sounds like a rather passive activity and perhaps ultimately it is. Perhaps in the end it is, along with prayer, all we can do.

As I said have stressed throughout this sermon we are not in control of this world and what will happen to it. It is God with his power and glory who is. Ultimately we cannot give ourselves belief and hope. Only through prayer can God give us these things,

So on that note let us pray:

Jesus we are fearful of what may happen but you tell us that you will return with power and glory. Help us to believe in that and give us, we pray, hope for the future we cannot know but only wait for.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10: 14-17, 11: 17-33; Deuteronomy 16: 1-8; Luke 22: 7-13; St Matthew's 14th November 2011.

Today is Remembrance Sunday and so, although it says on the service sheet that our theme today is ‘Being Fed’, the theme of my sermon is going to be ‘Remembering’. However I hope you will come to see that remembering and being fed are related. In the best of remembering we are fed spiritually and –on the other hand - meals and feasts are a good way of remembering things. I will suggest that remembering – when it’s done properly - is something we need to do a lot more of.

So what do we mean by remembering – and why might there be good and bad remembering. Well for one thing good remembering is not nostalgia for the past. I heard a man on the television news this week talking about a project to restore a Victorian pumping station in Hove. You might have heard it too. The man said something like. ‘It’s better to think about the past than the present or the future these days isn’t it?’ Now I would humbly suggest that he is completely wrong about this: that it’s not good to dwell in the past.

That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t remember the past, in fact, I will go on to say in this sermon, that it’s the past that partly defines who we are today. But we are only partly defined by our pasts. Jesus comes – in part to transform our pasts – and so liberate us from them with his new covenant. Jesus says that when we drink of the cup at the Communion we should remember that it’s a new covenant we are drinking – a new way of seeing things that was not known before.

There is I think a terrible and dangerous temptation that we are all subject to – but particularly those of us who are getting old - to dwell in the past, to wallow in the past and so to get stuck in it, to glorify the past as if it is more important than the present or the future. This is what I mean by a bad sort of remembering.

Remembrance Day – if nothing else should remind us that the past was not a universally great and glorious thing. Remembering past wars and the people who died fighting in them reminds us that the past involved sacrifice through suffering and even death – of people we loved. But we should also remember that suffering and death were not the end, that they do not have the last word, as the suffering and death of Jesus should remind us. After suffering and death comes resurrection, with sacrifice comes freedom.

The good sort of remembering is where we remind ourselves of who we are now, not principally what we were then. This might sound as if I am suggesting that in remembering we focus on ourselves rather than others. Far from it, we find our identity in our relationship with others – other people and with God – so remembering who we are involves remembering relationships. At the last supper Jesus commands his disciple to remember him. ‘This is my body, do this in remembrance of me’ he says, not, ‘Do this remembrance of this occasion’ or even, ‘Do this in remembrance of the events of my life’. So when Jesus says ’remember me’ he does not just, or mainly, mean remember me as a historical figure but remember me as a living person now – one whom you can have a relationship with now, in this present time.

Good remembering is primarily about bringing to mind relationships rather than just recalling events that have happened.

The communion meal is where, we Christians, remember our relationship with Jesus and through that act of remembrance who we are, but before I go on to talk more about that and why it involves a meal and food, I want to say more about the way the past defines us here and now and why history is important.

I chose the gospel reading to remind us that the last supper was – according to Luke - a Passover meal, and I chose the reading from Deuteronomy to remind us of what the people of Israel were commanded by God to remember at this meal.

Just as Jesus commands his disciples to celebrate a meal as a way of remembering him, in Deuteronomy (and indeed in the book of Exodus) we learn that God commanded the Israelites to celebrate a meal as a way of remembering the Exodus. To remember how he – God – rescued the Israelites from their dire predicament – captivity in Egypt – by freeing them from that slavery and bringing them to a land flowing with milk and honey – the promised land.

Now the Exodus is – I think it can be argued –is one of three major historic events in which the Israelites found their identity: the other two being the reign of King David and the exile to Babylon. God for the Jewish people – as he is for us Christians – is Lord of History –as we will sing in a hymn later in today’s service. Not that God always seemed to act in history - in a way which was unambiguously good for the people of Israel. In their exile to Babylon the Jews felt that they had been deserted by God. And remember too, the Holocaust – that further defining, if non-Biblical historical event for the Jewish people.

But the Exodus – which the people of Israel – were commanded by God to remember at the Passover meal – was one of God’s great acts of rescue. For Christians – of course – the fourth big historical event in the Bible which defines us as a community – is the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. This is the supreme act of God as rescuer. In Jesus’ commanding of us to remember him though a meal – indeed a Passover meal - we also remember his supreme act of rescue.

Our God is then – a god who comes to the rescue of his people. If we could go back in time and actually see the Exodus at it happened we might be shocked how few people were involved and how scruffy they looked. Exodus Chapter 12 verse 37 suggests that about 600,000 men, besides women and children took part – say a total of 2 million people - but this – in the light of archaeological evidence seems completely unbelievable.

It was more like a few hundred ill-clothed and starving slaves who escaped from Egyptian labour camps. But nevertheless this escape captured the imagination of, and became the remembered experience that defined their identity as the emergent Israelite nation and gave the Israelites the idea of a God that rescues. This event – and God’s role in it – became the basis of their ethical framework, was sung about generations later in the Psalms and became a promise in times of tribulation. Even though when they had all been carted off to Babylon the Israelites could look back on the Exodus to reassure themselves that despite appearances the contrary God had not in fact deserted them.

Historical events are what we make of them not how significant they seem at the time

This saving event of the Exodus became central to the religious worship of the Israelites, particularly in the celebration of the Passover meal. And just as the Passover meal was and is a meal in which the Jews remember or rather call to mind who they are and in particular how they stand in relation to God, so too at the Communion meal we Christians are to remember Jesus, and in doing so to remember who we are.

And so to my favourite subject food and meals. By now many of you regulars at St Matthew’s will not be surprised to find that it’s me preaching on these important verses in our series on 1 Corinthians. For visitors – in my paid job – I do research at the University on food.

I’ll just say at this point that, as I am sure I have said before, I personally think food is one of the most important things in life but we often forget this. We frequently food for granted and partake of meals without any real thought as to what we are eating. We even forget that the Eucharist is a meal with real food – as if the meal aspect and the food – the bread and the wine are somehow accidental to the proceedings.

But of course it is not accidental that food is involved in remembrance. What we eat is basic to life and what we particularly choose to eat (or not eat) is central to our cultural identity. If we think about other cultures – say Jewish culture or Chinese culture - what first springs to mind is what they eat.

Producing food in a way that doesn’t damage the earth and its other inhabitants and sharing food in a way that is fair and just is also basic to the proper functioning of society. We forget this at our peril.

Paul writes the section of his letter to the Corinthians that we heard earlier because it seems that when the Corinthian church came together to celebrate the Communion the rich Christians were not sharing the food that they have brought with them with the poor Christians. Think of a St Matthew’s bring and share lunch where the really nice food – oh I don’t know Jackie Wilderspin’s bread – is reserved for PCC members. Paul says in I Corinthians 11:18: ‘I hear that there are divisions among you…In eating each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk ‘

One of the reasons why the Corinthians are behaving in this inappropriate way at their communion meals is that they have forgotten the meaning of this shared meal. Paul admonishes them with the words ‘For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgement upon himself’. Instead of ‘discerning the body’he might have said ‘remembering the body’.

Now either way these words are capable of many interpretations and it seems likely that Paul has many things in mind. But one thing for sure that he is doing here is inviting the Corinthians to remember his words earlier in I Corinthians which we also heard today. ‘The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of one bread.’

In other words if we fail to remember that when we share in a communion meal we are one body then that’s all wrong. We heard from Steve last week what it means for the Church to be one body – so I won’t go into all that again. Except to remind you that that being one body is about unity in diversity.

This discerning of the body means that it is worth, I think, remembering that when the person giving out the bread at communion says ‘The body of Christ’ - or as we generally say here ‘The body of Christ keep you in eternal life’ and hands it to the person to accept, he or she is saying two things ‘This in my hand the body of Christ’ but also ‘This the person in front of me is the body of Christ’.

So to sum up in our Remembrance Day services we remember the past – and in particular the deaths of people in the terrible wars of the past 100 years. If this act of remembrance is to have any meaning it is to remind us of who we are now: still capable of waging war and having war waged upon us. In their Passover meal the Israelites remembered their escape from Captivity- not through waging war on the Egyptians though there was violence involved but as the act of their Saviour God. In the Communion meal we too remember the action of a Saviour God in the person of Jesus Christ our great rescuer and through that act of remembrance we remember who we are and should be – the body of Christ.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Sermon on Ephesians 6: 10-20

I have decided to make no real attempt to preach on the passages today. This is partly because I am preaching at the 10.30 service later about remembrance – because of course it is Remembrance Sunday today. Instead I just wanted to comment on the very first line of the epistle reading: ‘My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might’.

Now as some of you know I have very great problems with the notion of an omnipotent god: a god that is all powerful – in the traditional sense of that word – A god who could do anything if he wanted to do so. I have talked about this before I think. Or at least I know I have preached on passages in the Bible such as the discussion between Abraham and God over the fate of Sodom where God appears to change his mind, or where Jesus changes his mind in the conversation with the Syro-Phoenician woman. These passages it seems to me contradict the notion that God is unchanging. I think that verse from Hebrew’s which says Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today and forever needs to be unpacked in its context and not taken for a proof text for the unchanging nature or the unchangeablity of God.

At a fundamental level it seems to me that that there is not much point in petitionary prayer if it doesn’t - at least sometimes - leads to God changing his mind. OK – of course – one point of petitionary prayer to align our desires with that of God – but if every year it rained on the church fete when, every year, we prayed for it not to do so – we might begin to think we were wasting our time praying for fine weather on the day of the Church fete. But I digress: of course it’s just about logically possible to believe in a God who is both all powerful – omnipotent – and yet capable of changing his mind. But logic – as I have begun to learn recently – isn’t the be all and end all of everything.

And from a gut-feeling point of view it just doesn’t feel right that God should be all powerful – in the general meaning of that word - and yet permit the wars – and all that goes with them – that we are particularly remembering this Remembrance Sunday. How many parents prayed fervently for their child to be kept safe in the wars of the last century – the First and the Second World Wars, the wars in Korea and Vietnam - and the wars of this century – in the Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan – to name just a few. And yet our supposedly all powerful God did not seem to answer these prayers.

Rabbi Harold Kushner - faced with the contradictions involved in reconciling the notion of an all-powerful with a perfectly good God – after the death of his son from a disease that he had suffered with from birth – refused, like Job, to resort to platitudes. He says ‘I would rather affirm God’s goodness while compromising his power. I would rather believe in a God who sees things happening that he does not want to happen but cannot stop them. I think goodness is of more religious value than power’.

So one possibility is that God is not omnipotent – all powerful – at least in the usual meaning of that word. That he cannot wave a wand and stop wars in their tracks, he cannot stop even the death of his own son, much as he may wish to do so (and as surely we would all wish).

We need at least to pause and think about phrases such as the ‘power of God’s might’ as in today’s epistle reading and think again what we mean when we say in the first few in the words of the creed – as we have just said - ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty’ and when we address God in our prayers as ‘Almighty God’ ‘or when we sing ‘I am weak but thou art mighty, Hold me with Thy powerful hand’ or ‘What a mighty God we serve’ or the countless other lines in songs which imply God is powerful or mighty.

I guess it all depends on what we mean by power when it comes to God. We have been used to think of power and might as something welded by powerful, mighty men – and I mean men here rather than people. The power of king’s, prime ministers, chief executives, heads of departments, bosses, etc. etc. And therefore If God is King of Kings, boss of bosses, he (and again I mean he rather than she or it) must have the same sort of power as they have in order to be more powerful than them. Actually this doesn’t necessarily follow if God’s power is distinctly different to what we tend to think of as power. And if God’s power is a different sort of power to than that of say a king then this might enable me to say that God is omnipotent

There are at least two ways of thinking of power illustrated by the two prepositions that can be linked to the noun power i.e. ‘to’ and ‘over’. I think God’s power is more like ‘power to’ than ‘power over’. ‘Power to‘ and ‘power over’ are two very different things. But we are accustomed to think that power over – power over people, power over inert matter is necessary in order to have power to. For example we think God has creative power and that he used this power to created the universe but does this automatically mean than he has power over matter. Similarly we think God has the power to forgive us but this doesn’t mean that he has power over anything in order to forgive. Perhaps God’s creative power, his power to forgive, his power to give meaning, etc. etc. are very different from say David Cameron’s power to increase the rate of income tax or to lower it.

Whereas power would seem necessary in relation to creation or forgiveness, power in relation to love is clearly not. It sounds and is meaningless to suggest that God – or anyone else for that matter – needs power to love another. And this has some led to suggest that God’s power is much more like love than authority. So this would mean when we pray as we will pray later ‘Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men, We mean something like, ‘All loving God, Father our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of men’. You’ll note that changing Almighty to All loving in that sentence changes the meaning a lot!

There is I think much more that might be said about God’s power as more akin to love than to authority but here to finish with is a quote from Austin Farer about love as power and power as love.

‘We have so mishandled the sceptre of God which we have usurped, we have played providence so tyrannically to one another, that we are made incapable of loving the government of God himself or feeling the caress of an almighty kindness. Are not his making hands always upon us, do we draw a single breath but by his mercy, has not he given us one another and the world to delight us, and kindled our eyes with a divine intelligence? Yet all his dear and infinite kindness is lost behind the mask of power. Overwhelmed by omnipotence, we miss the heart of love.’