June 2018

June 2018
'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them'
Matthew 18.20 (RSV)

Matthew 18 has begun with the question that the disciples put to Jesus: Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? The answer of Jesus is to set a small child among them and say that unless they become like a child, they cannot enter the Kingdom at all. Become like this child. And it ends with the question of forgiveness and how many times we should forgive anyone.

At the heart of this chapter 18 is this verse: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Jesus was almost quoting from a famous Jewish saying: When two sit, and there between them are the words of the scripture, the presence of God rests between them.

What a wonderful concept that was. But now it is very different, because the divine presence is Jesus himself. He is Emmanuel, God is with us. The promise applies at the level of the great companies of worshippers throughout the world - on a grand scale. But the promise also applies to the personal level.

Any insignificant gathering of two or three concerned disciples, especially those who are praying, will find that Jesus is right there among them. That is the promise. And Jesus is not the slave of numbers. We hear great preachers saying how many people came to listen to them. We seldom hear ministers boasting about small numbers or of the single person who prayed.

In Christ, there are many members yet one body. And that body draws its inspiration from the presence of Christ at its heart. Jesus said: Abide in me, as I in you... I am the vine, you are the branches.

These are words for us today in whatever context we are meeting. Many who read this will, of necessity, be praying on their own; others will meet together in small groups. Part of the richness of these Sayings for Stillness is the knowledge that others too are praying with them through the month - we are not alone, even if we are on our own. Jesus said: I will be with you to the end of the age. Wherever we go and wherever we are we can sense the presence of Jesus with us, in his humility.

So we seek to receive all this deep down in our own lives. We sense the presence of Jesus right at the heart of us whenever we pray, on our own or with others.