August 2020

“The Father … will … fill you with wonder”
John 5.20 (J B Phillips)
The healing of the sick man at the pool of Bethesda is the third miracle recorded
by John in his Gospel. The healing took place on the Sabbath, giving rise to
another clash with the authorities - not because Jesus disagreed with the
principle of the Sabbath but because of the imposed petty restrictions which
often worked against God’s purpose of giving the people a weekly day of rest.
Jesus knew that God’s activity in the world did not finish with the act of creation
but is continuous and ongoing.
The involvement of the Almighty in the smallest concerns of humankind
should not be doubted, however much we sometimes feel that God is absent
from the world and its woes. Jesus assures his followers that he is following the
way of his Father: “Just as the Father raises the dead and makes them live, so
does the Son give life to any man he chooses” (v 21). The evidence of God’s
hand in his creation is evident if we look for it and will fill us with wonder if our
eyes and hearts are receptive.
As this is being written, the world seems a strange and vulnerable place, quite
different from the one in which we have been accustomed to live. Boundaries
have been crossed, systems overwhelmed, nations have been brought to their
knees and solutions have eluded even the best scientists and politicians. But
within that disintegration have been moments and events of revelation that
give rise to wonder: individual experiences have come to the fore and been
all-important. The love and care of others, even when expression has had to be
virtual, has sustained people in a new way. The weeks of gradual new life as the
year unfolded encouraged and gave hope.
There has been, and still is, huge suffering, with hardship, broken hopes and
bereavement – some people have found praying difficult. Underlying anxiety
constrains us and is the enemy of the openness of contemplative prayer, which
allows us to receive whatever arises in us and gently release it into God’s hands.
‘And now we offer to you … as an emptiness to be filled with your Divine
Fullness, all that we are, all that we have and all that we do’ - we allow the
Father to fill us with wonder.