Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Not that St Augustine would have approved of my lap top desires…

Here is my first effort at a sermonette for tomorrow – based on the collect for Trinity 17.

It might change it bit in the course of  the day:

Collect for Trinity 17.

Almighty God

You have made us for yourself

And our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:

Pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself

And so bring us at last to your heavenly city

Where we shall see you face to face;

Through Jesus Christ Our Lord

Who is alive and reigns with you

In the unity of the Holy Spirit

One God, now and forever.


Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless
till they find their rest in you;

These words are base upon St Augustine’s Prayer:

“quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te”.

You have made us for yourself

And our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.

We humans are enfleshed yearning. Which is a rather poetic way of saying that most of us are constantly wanting and desiring something.

St Augustine of Hippo expressed these words in his writings called “ Confessions” consisting of 13 books   produced between 397 and 398 AD. The work outlines Augustine’s sinful youth and his conversion to Christianity.

This constant yearning  might be simply wanting a material object – a new car, a gadget, more money, a better house. It might be wanting a certain type of relationship with someone. It might be wanting a particular outcome to a situation such as finding a better job.  It might be something to do with feeling more secure:  – financially, or in our domestic circumstances. It might be wanting better health or simply and so understandably an end to pain and illness.

Others will say – and it has been echoed over the ages that we humans have a God-shaped hole. And no amount of TV’s, new cars, comfortable homes and secure relationships can essentially  fill that gap. The history of our ancient religions show us how persistant in the human race has been our search for something transcendence.

It could be argued that   our desire for a god, our desire for transcendence, our inability to satisfy our yearning, is the source of the human creation of the concept of God.

But think about it:  in a comprehensible reality, which I believe I am part of, thirst points to the existence of water

Hunger points to the existence of food somewhere.

Our other bodily desires point to the existence of the possibility of  their satisfaction. And so on.

Might not then our very yearning for transcendence, for a reality beyond this material world  – rather than argue for atheism argue more strongly for the One in whom my restless, yearning heart will find its rest?

I suggest that our Creator gave us our desires for a reason.  And that the constant desire that humanity has had to find a reality beyond that which we see points to the very existence of  a reality – The Ground of Our Being –without which we are restless  beings.

Last Saturday, during the afternoon, I was feeling a bit miserable with a cold which had meant I couldn’t preside over a village wedding.  A ring at the door and an oldish looking guy was on the doorstep.

He didn’t look well. I hope I wasn’t too short when I said that I was poorly and couldn’t see him for long.

He told me his story – that he was very poorly and had only a short time to live.

He was looking for his brother Paul who his 92 year old mother  thought was buried in Little Paxton  churchyard back in the late 1950’s. They thought he had died at Fulbourne Hospital in Caambridge   and his death certificate recorded him as being an   “ Idiot”

The gentleman had been on a last trip to the Lakes and was on his way back home to Ipswich with a lot of medication on board his camper van.  For many years he had searched for the place of his brothers’ burial –it was  more urgent now that he was so ill.

We talked about lots of things – told me about how during his last major operation he had an out of the body experience –  and when he woke up sensed  a huge sense of calm and peace and that death was the gateway to a wonderful new place. He now had no fear of death. Times he had wondered why he had pulled through the operation –but believed it was so that he could reassure other people about the reality of God and a life beyond this one. Near Death Experiences are  very common and change peoples lives.

I was   very moved by  meeting him. I said I would do my best to see if Paul buried was buried at LP and when Hunts Archives rang me to say they had found him in the burial register on Thursday – you can imagine how pleased the man was  when I passed the news on.

Paul it was noted in the register lived at Riversfield House in LP ( it turned out he died there rather than at Fulbourne)  – now the large ruins on the Paper Mill Lock site which is being developed for housing. Paul had died  aged 10 years –in this home for mentally handicapped children. So, the  search for this brave man   is over – though he would very much like to come back with his family and have some prayers said near to where his mother believes Paul is buried. I hope he makes it.

Finding what we are looking for can bring immense relief and comfort.  On the one level he  had been searching for the place of burial of his lost brother – on another level I think he had found some time ago that sense of God which can take away all our fears and restless desires. I hope that when the time comes, he will be  is at peace with himself and God – I rather think he will be.

This week in our Benefice we have offered men, women and children some different opportunities to experience God through each other in various settings. I find Bishop David to be a very godly person – calm, kind and in a gentle way very persuasive with his views and opinions. He has been excellent with the children at LP and GP and with Alan Hargrave handled the Question  and Answers session with grace and wisdom.

I’m sure we all hope and pray that not just as a result of the Mission week but also in way we live our day to day lives that we enable more people to catch a glimpse of God who can give us that deep peace and still our restless hearts and minds.

We might often during the day in our minds repeat Augustine’s phrase “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” Augustine’s prayer might become our own.

Such short prayers, “arrow prayers”,  can be a significant spiritual discipline to help sancitify our days.

* Some of these ideas  I found some time ago on a web-site but unfortunately cannot find a reference now.

October 3, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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