A. J. Gossip Quotes

Posted by Brian

At the very moment when the pulpit has fallen strangely silent about sin, fiction can talk of little except evil, not indeed viewed as sin, but apparently as the invariable ways of a peculiarly repulsive insect, which it can’t help, poor thing; and there is no manner of use expecting anything from it, except the nastiness natural to it.
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And think of the appeal Christ made to men and women! He had many, but His favourite was to their chivalry and valour. Often He underlines the difficulties of discipleship, warns us what it will cost, that it means risk and loss and sacrifice, and pulling hard against fierce currents; and then He turns and looks at us, with that honouring trust of His in us that sets the blood tingling and makes the cheeks flush with pride. That, He says quietly, is why I am so sure that you will come: you are too big to keep out of it! And, indeed, in His own day, it was only daring and adventurous spirits who would risk declaring for Him, as it is only daring and adventurous spirits still who have the pluck to try to follow so original and unpopular a Master in the real living-out of life.
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A century or so since, they spoke of sharing our Lord with the heathen, and the world rocked with laughter at so crazy a scheme, with the Church joining loudly in the merriment. Yet today, who laughs now? We ought to be the gladdest and the most exultant people in the world; for we have found the key to our difficulties, and it turns; have come on a solution of life’s problems, and it works.
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A basic trouble is that most Churches limit themselves unnecessarily by addressing their message almost exclusively to those who are open to religious impression through the intellect, whereas … there are at least four other gateways — the emotions, the imagination, the aesthetic feeling, and the will — through which they can be reached.
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But what is worship? What ought to result from it? What is the point and peak and heart and centre of it? Is it the offering we bring to God of praise and adoration, of thanksgiving and sacrifice, our praise, our sacrifice to Him? That has its place, not legitimate only, but imperative. And yet to put that in the foreground is to make the service fundamentally man-centered and subjective, which, face to face with God, is surely almost unthinkably unseemly. Or is the ideal we should hold before us that other extreme, so ardently pressed on us these days, that, face to face with the Lord God Almighty, High and Holy, it is for us to forget ourselves and — leaving behind our petty little human joys and needs and sins and risings above thanksgiving and petition and confession — to lose ourselves in an awed adoration of God’s naked and essential being, blessing and praising Him, not even for what he has done for us, and been for us, but for what, in Himself, He is. To me, that seems not an advance, but a pathetic throw-back to the primitive of Brahmanism. We shall not learn to know God better, nor how to worship Him more worthily, by careful rubbing out from memory every wonder of Christ’s revelation of Him. [Excerpt continued tomorrow.].
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But, you object, a heart like mine can offer Christ so little — at best, so poor and pinched and stingey a hospitality and such meagre fare; for I have nothing worthy of Him to set before Him, only a kind of affection, real enough at times, but which, at others, can and does so easily forget; only a will, quite unreliable, deplorably unstable; only a faith that is the merest shadow of what His real friends mean when they speak about faith, I know. But, there was once a garret up under the roof, a poor, bare place enough. There was a table in it, and there were some benches, and a water-pot; a towel, and a basin in behind the door, but not much else — a bare, unhomelike room. But the Lord Christ entered into it. And, from that moment, it became the holiest of all, where souls innumerable ever since have met the Lord God, in High glory, face to face. And, if you give Him entrance to that very ordinary heart of yours, it too He will transform and sanctify and touch with a splendour of glory.
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Barrie tells us how, in the little house at Thrums, they used to tiptoe to and fro when his mother was upon her knees, awed by the knowledge that she was praying for them. And here and there in the New Testament, we blunder in on Christ and find Him on His knees; and, once at least, ere we can escape, cannot but overhear Him pleading our names. “Neither pray I for these alone,” that is, for Peter and John and the rest, “but for those who will believe through them”– that is, for you and me. Hush! the Lord Christ is praying for you! And what is it He asks for us? That we be given such a spirit of unity and brotherliness and Christlikeness that people, coming upon us, will look at us, and look again, and then from us to Jesus Christ, seeking the explanation of us there.
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Browning … tells us that what won him for Christ was this, that while others tried to soothe his angry conscience, and kept urging that, really, things were not nearly so bad as he was making out, Christ looked him in the eyes and told him bluntly that he was a desperate sinner, worse, much worse, even than he realized. And that, queerly enough as you might think, the man was not discomfited but heartened. Here at last, he felt, is one who understands and knows the facts. And since His desperate diagnosis is so accurate, may not His optimism also justify itself even in me. Well does He know what is in human nature, and yet, knowing the worst, He still has confident hope.
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Commemoration of James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Martyr in Uganda, 1885 We come to Jesus Christ: and He does for us what He promised; and the thing works out. To our amazement, it works out. And then we settle down. We have had our own first-hand and irrefutable experience. But, instead of opening the windows to the glory of the sunshine so evidently there, instead of being incited to a hugeness of faith by what Christ has already done for us, we can’t believe that there can be anything more, or that even He can work, for us, anything better. That first foretaste satisfies us. And so we camp for life out on the confines of the Kingdom, and never press on to inherit what is there and meant for us.
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Commemoration of Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, spiritual writer, 1893 In prayer we express deep penitence and contrition for our shortcomings, using sorrowful and self-accusing words. And this often in all sincerity. But, at other times, we are not really much disturbed about it; or, at least, not nearly so much as our heaped-up language would imply. What we imagine that we are achieving through this unreality I do not know. We shall not fool the All-wise; nor induce Him to believe that we are anything other, or better, than we actually are! Were it not saner to tell Him the truth, exactly as it is — not that we are overwhelmed with sorrow for our sinfulness, if it is not so; but rather this, that, to all our other sinfulness, we have added this last and crowning sinfulness, that we are not much worried about it, or, at least, not nearly as much as we ought to be. Be pleased, in pity, to grant us such measure of sorrow for our failures as will lead us to a true repentance; and, through that, to a new way of life.
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Commemoration of Clement, Bishop of Rome, Martyr, c.100 What exactly has Christ done for you? What is there in your life that needs Christ to explain it, and that, apart from Him, simply could not have been there at all? If there is nothing, then your religion is a sheer futility. But then that is your fault, not Jesus Christ’s. For, when we open the New Testament, it is to come upon whole companies of excited people, their faces all aglow, their hearts dazed and bewildered by the immensity of their own good fortune. Apparently they find it difficult to think of anything but this amazing happening that has befallen them; quite certainly they cannot keep from laying almost violent hands on every chance passer-by, and pouring out yet once again the whole astounding story. And always, as we listen, they keep throwing up their hands as if in sheer despair, telling us it is hopeless, that it breaks through language, that it won’t describe, that until a man has known Christ for himself he can have no idea of the enormous difference He makes. It is as when a woman gives a man her heart; or when a little one is born to very you; or when, after long lean years of pain and greyness, health comes back. You cannot really describe that; you cannot put it into words, not adequately. Only, the whole world is different, and life gloriously new. Well, it is like that, they say.
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Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189 Christ became ever more and more painfully convinced that men did not know God. They can’t, He said, or they could not live as they are doing. Some of them are so anxious and worried, with all God’s care and strength and love to lean against! They cannot know of it, and be so fidgety and nervous as they are. Some of them are afraid. Their consciences have drawn so grim a picture of Him that fearfully they shrink out of His presence, wish there were not God! Frightened of God, with His free and full and eager forgiveness, with His incredible generosity, with His compassionate heart that nobody can sour into illwill, do what he may. And even the best of them are not quite sure. Their faith at most is but a timorous hope, and a trembling perhaps; no more. Often in the Synagogue He had watched them sobbing out their penitential psalms and begging God to turn from anger and be gracious toward them… And it amazed Christ. Look at His sun, He cries, how it streams down in all its midday fullness on the most unworthy, and at the rain, how it falls healingly upon the fields of the least grateful, and how He keeps thrusting His benefits and blessings into the most soiled hands, loading the most impossible people with His kindnesses. If only I could make them see God as He really is: if only they could realize that He is their Father, that what their own child is to them, that, and far more, each of them is to Him.
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Commemoration of Johann Sebastian Bach, musician, 1750 You, too, are called to be an open letter, as Paul puts it, written by Christ’s own hand, showing those round about you what things Christ can do. We are to go into the world and so to live our ordinary lives that, all unconsciously to us, those among whom we move will look at us again, and will begin to say, You know I used to doubt if there was much in Christianity save talk. But I have revised my opinion. There’s So-and-so (that’s you, you understand), that is a man in whom the thing is obviously working out. He used to be so touchy, so opinionative, so mean and shabby in his views, so dully ordinary. Yet now, undoubtedly, the man has won to self-control and a large generous mind, and — yea, I know it’s a queer thing to say — but he has won to something more, something that somehow (though he never speaks about those things) makes you remember Jesus Christ!
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Commemoration of Denys, Bishop of Paris, & his Companions, Martyrs, 258 Commemoration of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, Philosopher, Scientist, 1253 The Word of God can grow to be only a hunting-ground for texts; and we can preach, meaning intensely every word we utter, and yet in reality only lost for the moment like an actor in his part, or at least leaving it to the folk to live it out; for us, bless me, we have no time for that, but are already immersed, poor harried souls, in determining what we shall preach on next.
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Commemoration of Allen Gardiner, founder of the South American Missionary Society, 1851 Commemoration of Albert Schweitzer, Teacher, Physician, Missionary, 1965 Who is it that has helped you most? Has it not been those who believed in you? Perhaps there may be few such left. The light of expectation may have died out of the most friendly and hopeful eyes; and you yourself may have lost heart. Ah! but there is still One whose faith in you has never wavered. And how wonderful it is that that one should be Jesus Christ!… It was a wonderful dream God dreamed, Christ says, when He created you; it was a stately being that was in His mind when you were fashioned; and I can make you all He meant that you should be.
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Commemoration of James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Martyr in Uganda, 1885 We come to Jesus Christ: and He does for us what He promised; and the thing works out. To our amazement, it works out. And then we settle down. We have had our own first-hand and irrefutable experience. But, instead of opening the windows to the glory of the sunshine so evidently there, instead of being incited to a hugeness of faith by what Christ has already done for us, we can’t believe that there can be anything more, or that even He can work, for us, anything better. That first foretaste satisfies us. And so we camp for life out on the confines of the Kingdom, and never press on to inherit what is there and meant for us.
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Commemoration of Albrecht Dürer, artist, 1528, and Michelangelo Buonarrotti, artist, spiritual writer, 1564 We think of the early sacrifices of those early Christians; but what struck them was the immensity of their inheritance in Christ. Take that one phrase (surely the most daring that the mind of man ever conceived), “We are the heirs of God.” That is what they felt about it, that not God Himself could have a fuller life than theirs, and that even He would share all that He had with them! Tremendous words that stagger through their sheer audacity! And yet, here we are, whispering about the steepness of the way, the soreness of the self-denial, the heaviness of the cross, whining and puling, giving to those outside the utterly grotesque impression that religion is a gloomy kind of thing, a dim, monastic twilight where we sit and shiver miserably, out of the sunshine that God made for us, and meant us to enjoy — that it is all a doing that nobody would naturally choose, and refraining from what everyone would naturally take: a species of insurance money grudgingly doled out lest some worse thing come upon us.
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Feast of Peter & Paul, Apostles Christ did not throw about that great word Salvation. But once, in the heart of an angry crowd, their enthusiasm soured suddenly into a growling muttering. He applied it confidently to a man who, under the inspiration of His friendship, had broken with his sorry past and his old selfish, unclean ways, and was doing what he could to put things right. Now that, He said, is what I call a saved man. Very solemnly He tells us that on the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked the questions we are expecting, but others that will puzzle and startle us. Those folk on the left hand were, as far as we hear, respectable folk; their business books were straight, their home life was kindly, they themselves were clean-living men and women: nothing whatever is laid to their charge excepting this, that they lived in a world needing their help and were too absorbed in something — what it was, we are not told; it may have been their souls — to give what aid they could.
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Feast of Joseph of Nazareth Continuing a Lenten series on prayer: Jeremy Taylor gives us some fundamental rules for prayer. And the chief of them is this: “Do not lie to God.” And that curt piece of advice, so bluntly thrown down for us, is indeed all-important. Do not burn false fire upon God’s altar; do not pose and pretend, either to Him or to yourself, in your religious exercises; do not say more than you mean, or use exagerated language that goes beyond the facts, when speaking to Him whose word is truth.
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Feast of Thomas More, Scholar & Martyr, & John Fisher, Bishop & Martyr, 1535 The redeemed in Heaven crying continually, “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” give, say the scriptures, an adoration which, in depth and fullness, no angel of them all can ever equal. Yet even then, we have not reached the centre. For when we worship, we are in God’s presence, and it is what He says and does to us that is the all-important thing, not what we say and do toward Him. Since He is here and speaking to us, face to face, it is for us, in a hush of spirit, to listen for and to His voice, reproving counseling, encouraging, revealing His most blessed will for us; and, with diligence, to set about immediate obedience. This and this, upon which He has laid His hand, must go; and this and this to which He calls us must be at once begun. And here and now I start to it. That is the heart of worship, its very core and essence.
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Feast of Charles Simeon, Pastor, Teacher, 1836 The Church seems to have lost heart somewhat, has allowed the old assurance and enthusiasm to cool below the temperature at which big things get done, is always whimpering and complaining about something, has developed a foolish trick of gathering into corners in discouraged groups and bleating disconsolately that God seems to be strangely little in our day, the very mood that so maddened the Hebrew prophets that they itched to lay violent hands upon their countrymen, and literally shake it out of them. We Church people have become so prone to loud and abusive self-depreciation that the thing amounts to a disease… and though these doleful spirits are not altogether serious, the world is listening, and takes us, not unnaturally, at our own dismal and unflattering valuation.
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Feast of Aelred of Hexham, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167 Commemoration of Benedict Biscop, Abbot of Wearmouth, Scholar, 689 Pain is a kindly, hopeful thing, a certain proof of life, a clear assurance that all is not yet over, that there is still a chance. But if your heart has no pain — well, that may betoken health, as you suppose: but are you certain that it does not mean that your soul is dead?
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Feast of Peter & Paul, Apostles You cannot escape Christ, do what You will. You reject His divinity, but, so doing, you have not evaded Him. If He is a man just like us, then obviously you must be a man like Him.
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Feast of Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, Spiritual Writer, 1626 Commemoration of Sergius of Radonezh, Russian Monastic Reformer, Teacher, 1392 The one great fear which is a holy fear is, I think, lest you make your adventure too small, too easy, too self-full, too mediocre. Christianity fails because people will keep on the surface too much, they will not go down to face these deep inner obediences; and that is ultimately to be beaten by themselves. We talk big and play so small. And the world has found it out –the great bulk have discarded Christianity as the way of Hope and put their hope in other things. … The Notebooks of Florence Allshorn September 26, 1998 Commemoration of Wilson Carlile, Priest, Founder of the Church Army, 1942 Even those of us who are inside it will agree that, in the main, the Church and all for which it stands occupy a palpably smaller place in the life of the average member than it did in former days. We explain it on the ground that life has become fuller, and that, of necessity, our attention nowadays has to percolate over a wide area instead of rushing foam-flecked down a narrower channel — which is to say, in other words, that Christ is getting lost to us in the crush and throng of things, does not loom up as arresting, as unique, as all-important, as He did to our forefathers. Yet that, when you come to think of it, is no bad definition of unspirituality.
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Feast of Vincent de Paul, Founder of the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists), 1660 If you wanted a label for us, would you find a better than a Sadducean Age? We also are not worrying about immortality, hardly believe in it, or at least are not sure; we, too, have limited ourselves to this dust-speck of time, leaving unclaimed the vast inheritance beyond of which Christ told us; we, too, are putting all our zeal and passion and enthusiasm into things of this earth here, quite sure that that is the only road to progress, and that this everlasting chatter about the soul is quite beside the point. And they are all so earnest and so certain, work so hard, are animated often by such lofty motives, are so sure that there is really no manner of need for Christ: that given this, and this, and this, each of them pushing forward his particular panacea — the world will manage very well; that to talk about Christ, and changing people’s hearts, and making us new creatures, is merely to lose precious time and wander from the practical into vague day-dreaming of which nothing comes. And year by year their voices grow a little harder, and they eye Christ more and more askance, feel sourly that He is a bit of a nuisance and a stumbling-block to progress, keeping people quiet who should not be quiet, lulling them with these dim, immaterial, fantastic, spiritual hopes of His which they think have no body, and can not have. Once more the whisper grows, “Were He not far better away?” Meantime we can ignore Him, they say; and they do.
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Feast of All Saints No doubt the gospel is quite free, as free as the Victoria Cross, which anyone can have who is prepared to face the risks; but it means time, and pains, and concentrating all one’s energies upon a mighty project. You will not stroll into Christlikeness with your hands in your pockets, shoving the door open with a careless shoulder. This is no hobby for one’s leisure moments, taken up at intervals when we have nothing much to do, and put down and forgotten when our life grows full and interesting… It takes all one’s strength, and all one’s heart, and all one’s mind, and all one’s soul, given freely and recklessly and without restraint. This is a business for adventurous spirits; others would shrink out of it. And so Christ had a way of pulling up would-be recruits with sobering and disconcerting questions, of meeting applicants — breathless and panting in their eagerness — by asking them if they really thought they had the grit, the stamina, the gallantry, required. For many, He explained, begin, but quickly become cowed, and slink away, leaving a thing unfinished as a pathetic monument of their own lack of courage and of staying power.
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Feast of Patrick, Bishop of Armagh, Missionary, Patron of Ireland, c.460 Thanksgiving is the language of heaven, and we had better start to learn it if we are not to be mere dumb aliens there.
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Feast of John Keble, Priest, Poet, Tractarian, 1866 God gave the prophecies, not to gratify men’s curiosity by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and His own providence, not the interpreter’s, be thereby manifested to the world. … Sir Isaac Newton July 15, 2000 Commemoration of Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, c.862 Commemoration of Bonaventure, Franciscan Friar, Bishop, Peacemaker, 1274 There is no such thing as a post-Christian society. One generation may reject the Gospel itself, but it cannot reject it for future generations. … Luis Palau July 16, 2000 Commemoration of Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, 1099 The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God. … Irenaeus July 17, 2000 The discussion of prayer is so great that it requires the Father to reveal it, His firstborn Word to teach it, and the Spirit to enable us to think and speak rightly of so great a subject. … Origen July 18, 2000 Jesus is our mouth, through which we speak to the Father; He is our eye, through which we see the Father; He is our right hand through which we offer ourselves to the Father. Unless He intercedes, there is no intercourse with God. … St. Ambrose July 19, 2000Feast of Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, & his sister Macrina, Teachers, c.394 & c.379 Humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue. … St. John Chrysostom July 20, 2000 Commemoration of Bartolomè de las Casas, Apostle to the Indies, 1566 Of course, it all depends upon what we are praying for. If we are whimpering, and sniveling, and begging to be spared the discipline of life that is sent to knock some smatterings of manhood into us, the answer to that prayer may never come at all. Thank God! Though, indeed, it is not easy to say that, with honesty. Still, it may never come at all, thank God. But if you have attained as far as Epictetus–pagan though you would call him–whose daily prayer was this: “O God, give me what Thou desirest for me, for I know that what Thou choosest for me is far better than I could choose”; if you are not bleating to get off, but asking to be given grace and strength to see this through with honour, “the very day” you pray that prayer, the answer always comes.
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Feast of Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, Teacher, 1153 Commemoration of William & Catherine Booth, Founders of the Salvation Army, 1912 & 1890 Bernard [of Clairvaux] did not stop with love for God or Christ, he insisted also that the Christian must love his neighbors, including even his enemies. Not necessarily that he must feel affection for them — that is not always possible in this life, though it will be in heaven — but that he must treat them as love dictates, doing always for others what he would that they should do for him. … A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought August 21, 2000 At the very moment when the pulpit has fallen strangely silent about sin, fiction can talk of little except evil, not indeed viewed as sin, but apparently as the invariable ways of a peculiarly repulsive insect, which it can’t help, poor thing; and there is no manner of use expecting anything from it, except the nastiness natural to it.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

Feast of James the Apostle We have all been inoculated with Christianity, and are never likely to take it seriously now! You put some of the virus of some dreadful illness into a man’s arm, and there is a little itchiness, some scratchiness, a slight discomfort–disagreeable, no doubt, but not the fever of the real disease, the turning and the tossing, and the ebbing strength. And we have all been inoculated with Christianity, more or less. We are on Christ’s side, we wish him well, we hope that He will win, and we are even prepared to do something for Him, provided, of course, that He is reasonable, and does not make too much of an upset among our cozy comforts and our customary ways. But there is not the passion of zeal, and the burning enthusiasm, and the eagerness of self-sacrifice, of the real faith that changes character and wins the world.
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Feast of Edmund of the East Angles, Martyr, 870 Commemoration of Priscilla Lydia Sellon, a Restorer of the Religious Life in the Church of England, 1876 It is not for nothing that the central rite of Christ’s religion is not a fast but a feast, as if to say that the one indispensable requirement for obtaining a portion in Him is an appetite, some hunger — is to be without what we must have and He can give.
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Feast of Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath & Wells, Hymnographer, 1711 When we look at the history of the Church, at the reckless fashion in which we have squandered our strength and time in fratricidal struggles between sect and sect, in embittered bickerings over matters often of secondary moment, while the world about us lies unwon, and the Church’s great commission remains plainly unfulfilled, surely we can understand that outburst of Erasmus, when he cried that he wished that we would cease from our disputings altogether, and put all that energy and zeal that we are wasting upon them into the carrying of the Gospel to the heathen! Or recall the infinite pains that have been taken, down the centuries, to preserve minute orthodoxy in all points of mental belief while ugly evils flaunt along the streets and are accepted meekly as part of the makeup of things! Or recollect how easy it is to assume that we, ourselves, are Christian people. Why? Oh, well, just the usual reasons: we say our prayers, when we are not too sleepy; and we come to church, when there is nothing much to do; and so, of course, there is no doubt of it, although our tempers may remain uncurbed, and our characters are not the least like Jesus Christ’s, nor growing any nearer it! Do we not need that solemn warning that Christ gives us when He tells us bluntly that many people lose their lives and souls, because they are always laying the emphasis and stress on the wrong points?
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Feast of Aelred of Hexham, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167 Commemoration of Benedict Biscop, Abbot of Wearmouth, Scholar, 689 We have all been inoculated with Christianity, and are never likely to take it seriously now! You put some of the virus of some dreadful illness into a man’s arm, and there is a little itchiness, some scratchiness, a slight discomfort–disagreeable, no doubt, but not the fever of the real disease, the turning and the tossing, and the ebbing strength. And we have all been inoculated with Christianity, more or less. We are on Christ’s side, we wish him well, we hope that He will win, and we are even prepared to do something for Him, provided, of course, that He is reasonable, and does not make too much of an upset among our cozy comforts and our customary ways. But there is not the passion of zeal, and the burning enthusiasm, and the eagerness of self-sacrifice, of the real faith that changes character and wins the world.
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Feast of Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Teacher of the Faith, 1274 The very Nazis look at you with wonderment and an open contempt! For even they are sure that to live for nothing higher than oneself is to lose life; that life, to be called life, can be found only in serving something bigger than one’s personal interests; something that crowds these out of mind and heart, till one forgets about them and lives wholly, and without exception, for that other, worthier thing… It is long since Aristotle told us that only barbarians have as their ideal the wish to live as they please, and to do what they like. And the New Testament gravely sets us down before the Cross, and bids us gaze, and still gaze, and keep gazing, till the fact has soaked itself into our minds that that, not less than that, is now the standard set us, and that whatever in our lives clashes with that is sin.
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God, as we know Him, is a gift to us from Christ.
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Good Friday They say it was old sins that troubled him, the past failures of the man, that made things difficult for him now. There had been days when he had been too hectoring or domineering — so, at least, these impossible people had said, though he himself denied it still. At all events, protesting to Rome, they had won the Emperor’s ear, and humbled their governor. And that must not happen again. Ah, me! Is not this life of ours a fearsome thing? Take care! take care! for if you sin that sin, be sure that somehow you will pay for it — and, it may be, at how hideous a price! So Pilate found in his day; so you, too, will find it in ours… Only God knows what may come out of that, if you should give way to it. Pilate was curt and domineering to the Jews one day. And it was because of that, months later, his unwilling hands set up the cross of Christ: unwilling — but they did it. Take you care! for sin is very merciless. If you have had the sweet, [sin] will see to it that you quaff the bitter to the very dregs.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

Good Friday Commemoration of Jack Winslow, Missionary, Evangelist, 1974 Who was it that set up the Cross? Not fiends incarnate, but plain flesh and blood like us; quite ordinary men, decent and kindly souls enough, some of whom, no doubt, went to their homes that day from Calvary and took their children on their knees and loved them very genuinely. Only, they were a bit old fashioned in the make-up of their minds, had grown stiff and inelastic in their thinking, inhospitable to new notions — surely a very minor sin at worst — and some feared for their vested interests; and one, poor Pilate, had lost his temper with these impossible Jews in days gone by, and had received a curt warning from Rome that there must be no further bloodshed in Jerusalem, and here was a new trouble at the very worst of times in the whole year, with fanatics in tens of thousands come up for the Feast; and one wanted to save the world by quick-running machinery, and so put Christ into a situation where He could no longer dilly-dally but must do something vivid, dramatic, revolutionary. And the people? No need for us to bother being there at the decision between Jesus and Barabbas. We had the lined streets cheering for Him yesterday. And we have relatives to see, and messages from neighbours to deliver to their kindred. He will be all right; we needn’t worry to be there. Such simple and plebian sins — minds grown a trifle out of date, a little selfishness, some temper and its consequences, a bit of worldly wisdom, and an indifference that did nothing at all — these brought about the shame of mankind, and the tragedy of history, and the blot upon our annals that will not rub out. And they are all of them within your heart and mine.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

Is it unfair to suggest that, in some of us at least, [Christianity] hasn’t fully worked so far simply because, at the pinch, at the decisive moment, we don’t want it to work or ourselves to be lifted up above the failings and disloyalties we find so alluring, but rather to be enabled to continue them without the ugly consequences of so doing, to have the inexorable laws of life bent aside in our favour, so that we can squeeze through and escape, without reaping what we have sown; because, as we misunderstand it, the whole point of the good news our Lord brings is the (to us) gladsome announcement that God is happily much more morally indifferent than our consciences had thought, and is not going to make a fuss about our sins and such-like trivial peccadilloes, but will surely let us off — because, in fact, we have not grasped that the core and essence of the Gospel… is its tremendous and glorious revelation of how deadly is God’s hatred of sin, so that He cannot stand having it in the same universe as Himself, and will go any length, and will pay any price, and will make any sacrifice, to master and abolish it, is set upon so doing in our hearts, thank God, as elsewhere.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

If people gathered to a political meeting, and the chief speaker spoke to them only for some quarter of an hour, they would be annoyed, would feel with some resentment that he had not taken them seriously, had dealt much too cavalierly with the question of the hour, an Ulster boundary, or such like. But the things of the soul are far more momentous, and to be asked to deal with huge, unfathomable facts like the Cross in a few minutes, means that people are not really interested in these things. This is, of course, a snippety age, with a snippety press, and snippety novels. But must we preachers follow and be snippety, too?
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

If Christ and His work and His sacrifice do not result in Christlikeness in you and me, then for us it is quite valueless, and has entirely failed; and, insofar as you and I are concerned, Christ was thrown away in vain. How, then, is it with you and me? Be very sure that upon Calvary it was no strange, immoral favouritism that came into operation, whereby — because of some beliefs that remain mere dead letters, that produce no change whatever in their characters — some people living the same kind of life as others and following the same selfish ends and interests as they, are given a destiny entirely different. That is the vainest of vain dreams. Rather is this the supreme revelation of a new way of living life; and only those who — blunderingly, it may be, but yet honestly — seek to adopt and imitate it can be counted really Christian folk.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

If Christ and His work and His sacrifice do not result in Christlikeness in you and me, then for us it is quite valueless, and has entirely failed; and, insofar as you and I are concerned, Christ was thrown away in vain. How, then, is it with you and me? Be very sure that upon Calvary it was no strange, immoral favouritism that came into operation, whereby because of some beliefs that remain mere dead letters, that produce no change whatever in their characters, some people living the same kind of life as others and following the same selfish interests and ends as they, are given a destiny entirely different. That is the vainest of vain dreams. Rather is this the supreme revelation of a new way of living life; and only those who — blunderingly, it may be, yet honestly — seek to adopt and imitate it can be counted really Christian folk.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

Maundy Thursday Perhaps we feel that we do not see much to encourage us. “I do not envy those who have to fight the battle of Christianity in the twentieth century,” wrote Marcus Dods. “Yes, perhaps I do; but it will be a stiff fight.” Of course, he did, and anybody with his valiant spirit would. There was a day when our Lord passed through cheering streets wildly enthusiastic; and another day when He watched the crowds deserting Him, till even the disciples themselves seemed to be withering, and He looked at them sadly. “Will you also go away?” He said. And Peter strode across the sudden empty spaces widening around Him, and put his back to Christ’s. “No”, he cried; “there are two of us, at least”, and faced the world, Christ’s poor minority of one. I would rather have been Peter than one of the shouting mob. And today, perhaps, we may get our chance of that.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

The Presentation of christ in the temple every single time a sacrament is celebrated, God takes action, there and then — does something, not on Calvary, but in that church. And what He does is to come to each soul partaking in the Sacrament and to assure it that He stands to the best and biggest of His promises and to the fullness of His grace in Christ… de-universalizes the Scriptures and individualizes them, makes them a personal promise, couched no longer in general terms but offered to very you and very me, as individually as if they covered no other but referred to you and me alone. We may be cold and dead and unresponsive. None the less, something happens in the Sacrament. For God stands to His side of the Covenant, whether we stand to ours or not.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

The insensibility of ours is a bad symptom. For one thing, it implies that we have no spiritual ambition, else we should not be satisfied with such poor lives; that we cannot have thought out the fact of Jesus Christ, and how immeasurably He has raised the standard. Will you hang your wretched daubs beside the works of Titian and Michelangelo and not be shamed by the enormous contrast — stand back and say, with a satisfied smirk, “That is pretty good, you know!”? And can you live face to face with Jesus Christ, and be content with what you are?
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

Well, to begin with, you can pray. Pray!, you say scornfully, pray! I knew it would all fizzle out, and come to nothing. I could pray! Yes, you could pray, and, whatever you may think about it — using it as a poor makeshift of a thing much lower than a second-best, not really a best at all, on which men fall back only when they can do nothing effectively, and are too fidgety to be able to do nothing at all — Christ holds that prayer is a tremendous power which achieves what, without it, was a sheer impossibility. And this amazing thing you can set into operation. And the fact that you are not so using it, and simply don’t believe in it and its efficiency and efficacy as our fathers did, and that so many nowadays agree with you, is certainly a major reason why the churches are so cold, and the promises seem so tardy of fulfillment.
– A. J. Gossip Quotes

We can do nothing, we say sometimes, we can only pray. That, we feel, is a terribly precarious second-best. So long as we can fuss and work and rush about, so long as we can lend a hand, we have some hope; but if we have to fall back upon God — ah, then things must be critical indeed!
– A. J. Gossip Quotes


2 Comments »

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