“Wisdom in the Kingdom”
Trust, belief and wisdom.
The highlight of the Olympic Games for me was the conversation Usain Bolt had with a reporter after he had won the 100 metres. The reporter noted that prior to the games he seemed out of form, and indeed Usain himself had agreed that he was not at his best and with concern on his mind; he went and asked his coach if he too was worried. To which his coach responded “not at all”. He then explained to the reporter that “I trust my coach, so if he wasn’t worried, then nor was I so I just went out and ran”.
Trust and belief. But also the wisdom to act on that trust. The wisdom to override his own inner doubts and thoughts, because of his trust of another-from a trusted voice not from within himself, but a trusted voice from another.
(and) That’s the impact good coaches have on their players, they bring trust and belief and then wisdom. The wisdom that when at three quarter time, beaten and lagging-that when the coach says we’re in this, we can win it, we will win it, they truly do believe it.
Fos Williams, raised in a small country town over the hills from Port Augusta as a young man went to Adelaide in his job and to play football. Not long after he ended up as the playing coach of the Port Adelaide Magpies-the club of which has now born Port Power in the AFL. When he arrived they were a going nowhere. Magarey medallist Peter Woite gave the following insight to what then took place. He said “Fos would start an hour and a half before the game. Telling them that they were invincible. That they will win over and over again. Eventually the players came to believe it and went from accepting defeat to not accepting anything other than winning. They came to believe him, when they went out they believed they were invincible and that they would win. Belief that became so strong that when they were defeated, they were inconsolable. From outside of themselves, Fos had changed the way they played and their beliefs-and it became part of them, part of their substance and being.
Trust, belief and wisdom. Jesus says we are to have childlike faith, and I know where he’s coming from. When we were children, Jesus was so uncomplicated. He said I love you, bring you forgiveness and you’ll go to heaven. Jesus said it, so it was so; it was just in there inside us and onto doing kid’s stuff we would go.
Then for want of a better word we grow up. Learn to think logically and question things, question perceived truths. Get beaten around the head with life’s responsibilities, struggles and hardships. Given the gift of greater intelligence, to be able to think deeply of how things work, or how they should work and yet with all this knowledge, power and experiences-Jesus says we are to have child-like faith.
When young, if told that’s a chair, well it’s a chair-now I might first consider that it actually may be a stool.
Two weeks ago we heard the Jews ask Jesus: What is it that we must do, to do the work of God? And Jesus replies to believe in the one He has sent. Is that it, or did he mean something else-maybe it’s now a bean bag.
And in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, they will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world”.
You can see where this is heading. No wonder the Jews had trouble understanding and believing what Jesus said. The stuff Jesus said, the gospel is foreign to how we are cast. Logically, these statements of Jesus are illogical. A pastor/lecturer at the sem. told us, when in your Parish; don’t get down on yourself with all the empty seats-because it’s a miracle that any one believes at all.
And through logic, or how we think it should work, he’s right, and right there we see that what Jesus said has to be case, everyone that does believe, has childlike faith, because otherwise you could not believe.
Trust, belief and wisdom. To trust and believe in what Jesus says, and the wisdom to do so, even though from within us it would seem the opposite. When as a child, Jesus says-so no questions needed. As an adult-Jesus says-and we question how that possibly could be-but believe anyway. That’s childlike faith-to override what we would think with what we are told by Jesus.
When Mother Teresa died, some of the press gleefully reported that during her last years she once said that after all the time working in the slums and in the hardships-she could not see God there. And as you could imagine, her quote gave many the ammunition to say see, there you go even the great Mother Teresa didn’t believe. But they missed the point; she did not say that-what she said was, that what was before her eyes gave no logic of God being present. Is that a heresy? Absolutely not, in fact quite the opposite because even though it may have seemed so, she knew it was not the case.
I was baptised as an adult-did I feel any different afterwards-I don’t think so. Baptising our infants, do we literally see a hallo form-I haven’t yet. Studying at the sem. and being ordained, do I feel like some kind of saint-not likely-I think I did more so before I went in. And that is the Gospel.
It would be nice to self-reference our spirituality, of what’s going on in our hearts-of feeling our growth within ourselves. Indeed it would be very nice, but not so comforting the next day when we see our heart just as black again as the day before. And that is the Gospel. It is not how we feel-it’s what Christ promises and what he does.
In Holy Communion-Jesus says I give you my body and blood-for eternal life, yes, but also to work inside you-We believe that, even though in our inner selves we find it hard to see much progress, if any.
That is the Gospel. It is not from us, it’s from outside. The Word of God, Baptism and Holy Communion-Our Lord and Saviour brings them to us, just like God sent His Son to us. He didn’t just flick a magic switch to fix up our mess-he sent His Son down to us-to grow in us from outside in-transforming us.
In Christ, we are transformed into the holy and righteous. Do you feel very holy and righteous? Maybe not, and if not, welcome to being normal. But in faith, though our hearts and minds may be at times like black coal-that when all the logic and facts of our sinful selves are stacked against, when we know that we are beyond help within ourselves, that in ourselves we are lost-yet cling to Christ, not just as our only hope of acceptance by the Father, but take it as a fact that we are accepted by the Father-that’s faith, faith in the truth. Thank God for the trust and belief he has worked in us, and the wisdom he has brought to us of childlike saving faith. Amen.