Exodus 17. 1-7
A reading from A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life – William Law (1686-1761)
William Law was born in Kings Cliff in 1686 educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and after ordination as Deacon, he became a Fellow of the College in 1711. When George I came to the throne in 1714, William declined to take the Oath of Allegiance – being a member of the non-Juror party who believed that the anointed but deposed, James II and his heirs should occupy the throne. He lost his Fellowship but was made a priest in 1728 and published several influential books. He returned to his home town of King’s Cliffe, Northamptonshire in 1740 where he led a life of devotion, simplicity and caring for the poor.
In the non-biblical reading from his book ‘A Serious Call to a devout and Holy Life’, William refers to ‘the Common Good’. This is a phrase we more readily associate with Catholic Social Teaching rather than with Protestant England in the 18th century.
But I think it is represented in both the Catholic and Protestant traditions because the Common Good is central to what it means to commit ourselves to one another – the theme of this sermon and next Wednesday’s Lent Group.
Isaiah 42. 1-9; Romans 10. 8b-13; Luke 4 1-13
"Sorrow for sin is indeed necessary, but it should not involve endless self-preoccupation. You should also dwell on the glad remembrance of the loving kindness of God". Bernard of Clairvaux
Lent is the time when we think of Jesus in the Wilderness and that story is the Gospel reading we have just heard. But the wilderness also belongs to us. It is always lurking somewhere, as part of our experience, and there are times when it can seem pretty near the whole of it. Most people's wilderness is inside them, not outside. Our wilderness is an inner isolation. It's an absence of contact. It's a sense of being alone, sometimes boringly alone, or saddeningly alone, or terrifyingly alone.