Monthly Archives: August 2014

To know as we are known


Psalm 139 begins with the words “O Lord, you have searched me and known me” and in our existential journey the notion of being known appears to be important.  We do not want to go quietly into the night or be lost in anonymous obscurity.

Yet these words of comfort are also challenging for us as we contemplate how well we might know God, others and even ourselves.

In a recent conversation around social media the comment was made that what we see in cyberspace is not real because people so edit the persona they present.  A statement consistent with a comment that made to me by a young adult that sharing stuff on Facebook was harmless.

I would challenge both of these statements.  Firstly, because in any setting we find ourselves, with any different group of people, we are always constructing our identity – whether consciously or not.  Secondly, because words sent out into the ether of the cyber world are recorded and carry as much weight as words said or written anywhere else.

In our relationship with God Psalm 139 reminds us that the masks that we wear and the words that we say are seen through by the one who knit us together in our mother’s womb.

God continues to love and care for us despite what we might try to hide from others and even ourselves.  It makes me wonder whether a key to spiritual growth is to come to know ourselves and each other as we are known – a place that might lead us into deeper respect, care and concern for one another.

Anonymous Heroes

In Matthew 6 Jesus says, ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’

Over my years of ministry I have heard countless stories from congregation members and friends of unseen good deeds.  Things as simple as cooking a meal for someone when they are in a difficult patch through to giving away items to a family in need – a fridge, a bed, even a car on ‘permanent’ loan.  Acts of kindness and love, often done deliberately out of a person’s faith and sometimes simply because a person felt it was the right thing to do.

Whilst many congregations run programs and individual Christians do things in the light of day, witnesses to be seen, often in a congregation or a person that little appears to being lived out a hidden world lies behind the apparent inertia.

What is more important?  Giving an open witness or the things done in secret? Or does it ultimately matter?  The video attached “Give a little love” by Noah and the Whale speaks of the strength of the small witnesses, not quite hidden but apparent enough to bring about transformation.