Canon Roy Arnold
Charlotte Bronte (who wrote “Jane Eyre”) in the opening words of her novel “Shirley” observes: “Of late years, an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the North of England: they lie very thick on the hills. Every parish has one or more of them.” But, as it happens, it now seems quite a few years since Bollington shared in this bounty, which makes you, Michael, all the more welcome. This very time last week you were getting ready for the Ordination Service, and this very time 51 years ago I was getting ready to go to St John’s Church in Bollington to get married to Hylda Mary Brogden, spinster of this parish.
It is not a new thought that Ordination and Marriage are quite similar, not least because they both – ideally – entail commitment and love. Of course, being married (or not married) or being ordained (or not ordained) does not make us any different from what we were or are, for better or for worse, but St Paul (in our Epistle for today) says: because we are all too human we can still get things wrong and fall into sin. And sin (as I see it) is like missing the target, God’s target, and there are thousands of ways of missing the bulls-eye, but only one of hitting it. But, week by week, it is the privilege of all Christians to hear, and for clergy to announce: “This is the target to aim for” in the teachings of Jesus, like his word to us today, that we must aim to be, somehow, “like little children again”. Note, not childish – but childlike. “Like infants,” he says, “seeing the world and other people afresh.” And how I wish that we all could (more often) experience the world like that – New Every Morning…
But sad to say we very soon start waiting for the next hospital appointment. or worrying about the children, or the car failing its MOT, or the church roof falling IN, or the Parochial Church Council falling OUT.
St Francis de Sales says “Have patience with all things but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about mending them, and everyday begin this task anew.” I think that we might start by remembering those words Jesus gave to us this morning:
“Come to Me, all of you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11.16-19 and 25-end
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”