The View from the Vicarage: Persistent Patience

Welcome to my blog as I take a walk through the Acts of the Apostles and offer some short reflections on what I believe it may be saying to us as a church and as individuals, particularly in this time of change and of transformation and in a world of restriction and limitation but with new beginnings on the horizon.

After spending time with Paul in Athens The View from the Vicarage: Into the Marketplace and then in Corinth The View from the Vicarage: Sticking to Religion we find ourselves with Paul in Ephesus in Acts 19:1-22.

There is much that could be picked up on in this passage, there are amazing encounters, conversions and demon possession but those are not the things which I have reflected on, for me it is the underlying theme of all that is happening through Paul.

In verse 8-10 we read “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.”

Paul does not turn up like a guest preacher for a day and move on, this is not a quick tour, this calling of St Paul, of the early church is one of real commitment to place, to people and to Jesus Christ. Not only is there a real commitment, there is a real patience. Despite opposition Paul stays 3 months before moving on from the synagogue.

The commitment of the early church seems to me to be a ‘persistent patience’ they have ground breaking, world changing good news and to share that requires this ‘persistent patience’.

After 10 weeks of lockdown we all know how frustrating life can be in very new ways, but alongside that we have all learnt to live with a persistent patience as we have stayed at home, saved lives and protected the NHS.

As a church we have felt those limitations on our worshipping life very keenly. We cannot meet together, we were unable to celebrate Easter together, we have not been able to share in the meal Jesus gave us since March 15th at St Matthew & St Wilfrid’s. Yet we have learnt new ways of pastoral care, reached out to new people online and above all learned that virtue of persistent patience. As we move on to our new tomorrow we will need to practice that even more – things will not go back to the way they were in our churches for some time to come, we will need to find new ways of doing things and may have let go of others.

The early church grew exponentially and became the church of Jesus Christ by practicing persistent patience, we need to practice that persistent patience as we seek to move on to that new tomorrow while recovering our identity as the people of Jesus.

This year in the Diocese of Durham we planned 2020 as a year of pilgrimage, little did we know what kind of pilgrimage we would be on – as we move on together in this new world I leave you with a wonderful hymn all about pilgrimage and persistent patience by John Bunyan:

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather.
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

Your friend and Vicar



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