We have been feeling weak lately. A minority in a Church that would vote us out any time, we reflect desperately that God’s strength is in weakness. This is another of the paradoxes we use, as we tell people that the meek shall inherit the earth, that to him that hath shall be given, that the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them. It is not so pleasant when you find yourself sitting down with a pretty hostile-looking wolf.
May believing impossible things before breakfast be just an academic exercise? We cling to the truths of the world, that you’ve got to look after Number One, that them as don’t ask don’t get, and that findings is keepings. Reason says that these are true, and reason is God-given. It is not serious to travel through the looking glass with Alice and find that cats talk and sheep knit. Is the tale of God being a baby any more serious, or just something for the kids, like Santa and the reindeer? Are lovable Peter, prickly Paul, and the others about whom we hear in church just Alice figures to amuse us before we turn to serious business?
And is it true? And is it true?’ asks John Betjeman. We believe it is, but oh, dear! what if the wolf does not? Or, more relevant to the present situation, does believe and still wants to eat us? Our Lord found the answer to that: we are warned to expect tribulation, though we turn with some relief to that lovely BCP phrase about ‘his one oblation of himself once offered’.
We do not want to regard our brothers and sisters in Christ as wolves or even lions. We only need to when they behave that way. Talking to some formerly quite hostile liberal Anglicans since the last Synod, I have been encouraged to think that they do not really accept the wisdom of the world: that the noisy shall flourish, that power over others is the proper aim of men, and is bound to triumph in the end: that in fact our task is not made nearly impossible by the need to convert Christians to Christianity.