The abbot confided in me the other day that this is his favourite text from the writings of St. Paul: "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12-15). I assume it is because he does not believe that we should sit around waiting for someone else to save us -- we should get on and do it ourselves. That is an eminently practical way of going about things. And for good measure, we should fear and tremble while doing so. Working out our own salvation is a serious matter, is it not?
Last week I conducted a workshop at Mt. Fleur near Stellenbosch. One of the participants was James Grace, a lecturer in the School of Music at UCT. James is the leading classical guitarist in South Africa, and as it happens, he will be playing here in Hermanus later this month. But after dinner last Thursday he gave us an impromptu concert. He not only played with amazing technical skill, he also played with "soul." Something that goes beyond mechanical ability, lifting the music into a different realm that reaches deep inside you.
I think we would all agree that Barry and Molly have two of the most adorable twin grand-daughters, Chloe and Zara. A sheer joy to the family, they were also a delight to the rest of us who had passing glimpses of their curly locks and smiling faces. That lively image has stayed with me the whole week since last Thursday when I met them for the first time and, if I may say, I think they took a fancy to my beard. But another image has also been with me, the faces of two brothers who, so it is alleged with good reason, killed and maimed so many people at the end of the Boston marathon.
The bombings that took place this week in Boston at the end of the annual marathon have shocked not only Americans but people across the world. Whatever the motivation that lies behind this terrible act of terror, nothing can justify such killing and maiming of innocent civilians. Even if the bombings are acts of revenge for what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan since the American led invasions, they must be condemned, as must the bombings in those countries where every day is like that fateful day in Boston.
During Holy Week and Easter I preached a series of sermons at the Randpark Ridge United Church in Johannesburg, on the Passion and Resurrection narratives according to Mark’s Gospel. Mark’s was the earliest gospel to be written, probably based on oral tradition that went back to St. Peter. In turn, Mark’s gospel provided the basis for the writing of the gospels according to Matthew and Luke. Mark is also the shortest of the four gospels, terse and to the point and the most dramatic.
My high school headmaster was more feared than loved, equally so by the staff and students. He used to stand in the corner of the quadrangle during short break every morning, keeping a beady-eye on what was happening. But his vision seemed to penetrate our ill-formed minds as well as classroom walls! He knew, so we thought, everything about us and what was going on in the shady sections of the school. He was my Latin teacher and I knew from experience how he could look one way in class while at the same time detecting what was happening in my own corner!
It is all very well for Jesus to tell the leader of the synagogue, whose daughter had apparently died, not to fear, yet fear is one of the most natural things in the world and phobias abound even on Volmoed. Arachnophobia we all know is the fear of spiders, and acrophobia, the fear of heights, but did you know that ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes, agoraphobia, the fear of crowded places, cynophobia, the fear of dogs, astraphobia, the fear of lightening, trypanophobia, the fear of injections, pteromerhanophobia, the fear of flying, and mysophobia the fear of germs and dirt?
One of the most difficult aspects of publishing a book is choosing the right design for the cover. Authors usually don’t have much say over the process or the final outcome. This is something Isobel has found out in publishing her book on Julian of Norwich. What the publisher is concerned about is not what the author would necessarily like, but what will attract potential buyers and sell the book. The cover is part of the advertising process, and covers can be very misleading.
Take heart..your faith has made you well.
I recently heard that one of our old friends has gone to live there in the small Karoo town of Aberdeen. This brought to mind the brief visit of the Abbott and Abbess some years ago to the dorp. They discovered that the devout owner of their B&B had a special form of ministry which he referred to as the “ministry of fault finding.” As the Abbess is faultless, this proved no problem for her, but after one night the Abbott decided it was time for him to get out of town.