Please select an issue from the list on the right, to view the articles which have been uploaded to the website.

Issue 32

Comfortable Words

“Comfortable” words

It is possible to read the Scriptures as a kind of rule book containing implacable commands that we disobey at our peril. The first five books of the Bible are certainly cast in that kind of mould, and there are theological and practical reasons for that. But set against this the rest of the Bible, particularly the writings of the prophets and the New Testament, and you find a strong element of pleading rather than command. This is sometimes human beings pleading with God as in the Psalms, but often it is the other way round, God pleading with humanity, gently and persistently inviting us to turn in his direction ethically, morally and spiritually. You may like to look up the references at the end of the article to hear this voice.


The 20th century spiritual teacher, Robert Coulson, founder of The Fellowship of Contemplative Prayer, often stressed the importance of what he called “the Divine Invitation” which is found in Matthew’s Gospel (11.28-29), “Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . .” He suggested that anyone who was called to pray in contemplative silence should start by calling to mind that invitation which Jesus extended to his followers. It is interesting that the words found a place in the Holy Communion Service of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. There they are termed The Comfortable Words, not comfortable in the modern sense, but meaning strengthening (think of the middle part of the word com – FORT – able). It is worth spending some time pondering over these two verses from Matthew 11. The words epitomise God’s persistent invitation to draw near to Christ. And it remains a true invitation, not just a suggestion and certainly not a command. God does not override the precious gift of our freewill. If we so choose, we are at liberty to turn a deaf ear, just as we are free to ignore or reject any invitation.


(You may like to check out these references:

Isaiah Ch.55.v1-3; Jeremiah Ch.3.v11-14, Ch.4.v1-2; Hosea Ch.2.v14, Ch.10.v12, Ch.11.v1 & v8-11, Ch.14.v4;  Joel Ch.2.v12;  Matthew Ch.19.v14;  John Ch.7.v37.)