Back in the days of another parish, we had a little hall just down the road from the church and every so often we’d hold a day of prayer in there.
Anyone could come! There would be quiet music playing. Nice chairs to sit in with good books to read. There would be candles to light and prayers to write and pin to a board. You could even make yourself a coffee if you wanted.
I was in there on my own one day as the steward on duty and found myself drifting over to the Children’s corner where there were photocopied pictures of Jesus calling the children to come close to him for blessing and you were invited to colour Him in using the crayons provided and then to colour in which ever of the children running to him, you might want to be.
So I chose a little chap running to Jesus’s arms grinning from ear to ear, dressed in a 1970’s tee shirt and shorts. And I became so engrossed in colouring in these two figures, Jesus and me, that I jumped out of my skin when a worthy gentleman of the church came in and spotted me at the Children’s table.
“Seeing what the kiddies get up to then Vicar” he said “God knows we need something to keep them quiet”
Embarrassed at my picture, I hid it away under the pile and reached out somewhat sadly to the adult bookshelf nearby, and took down some dusty volume of dog eared theology.
“Yes, Yes, we do don’t we” I mused “Something for the kiddies, to keep them quiet”
And how is the kiddy in you on this lovely All Saints Day morning. Sat quietly in the corner of your life, largely side lined and ignored by the responsible adult you think you have become.
If you’ve ever wanted a summary of what it is that Fr Andrew truly believes in, you can find it on the back of a postage stamp – or if you prefer – the three verses in our very short Epistle reading.
We are all children of God and we are all dearly loved by Him. He is not fooled by our attempts to forge ourselves into the sort of adult, with an answer for everything and in control of it all.
Faith is about handing over the child in us to God. Trusting Him without being able to see the full extent of who He is, nor how his love might shape us if we were to simply let go of ourselves and run to Him.
If we can actually run there as we, are in spite of our shortcomings, we shall become as He is!
Not through pretend piety but through the ups and downs of our life’s experience. For it is through those that He purifies us, he colours us in, with the same colours as himself, until you can’t tell the difference between the God who blesses and the child running towards that blessing.
Then the miracle is this. The blessing he gives enormous blessings we know as the Beatitudes and which were described in our Gospel reading this morning will begin to take shape both in our lives and in the lives of others.
These are not blessings of wealth and status. They are not magic spells promising a better life – but that he meets us in the need in us, the loss in us, the gentleness and mercy in us that others tend to ride roughshod over, the wounds in us, the yearning for peace in us.
In fact the things that the world would describe as weakness he blesses into strength.
The coloured in Jesus – one and the same with the coloured in child.
Then he sends us out, as if with a pack of crayons in our hands, to colour in the lives of those who reach out to us, so that we form a community of faith – which can take on anything that is thrown at us.
This is the way to sainthood, a destiny not restricted to those in the bible or those who have churches named after them – but opens out to the boy or girl in us that would run to Jesus. The boy or girl that we consign to a part of our lives that is out of sight and out of mind because of the disruption they might bring if they are allowed to come tom centre stage.
I was musing on these thoughts a week or so ago on the day when the church gives thanks for Teresa of Avila and I heard someone read a prayer attributed to her – and I thought, yes this is exactly what I think is being said to us through these readings and my reflection on them.
So I leave these words of a true saint to inspire us in our own calling:
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes.
You are his body.
Christ has on body now on earth but yours.
MATTHEW 5: 1-12