A Very Present Help

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

When trouble strikes, we all have our coping mechanisms. Perhaps there is someone you seek out, someone who understands you, someone who will listen as you pout out your woes. Perhaps you pull on your coat and boots and tramp over the hills, giving yourself time to think. Perhaps you just sit and worry. Whatever it is, we turn to familiar patterns.

Now, I could wax lyrical about God being your refuge and strength. I could talk about refuges being safe places, castles in the hills. I could tap away on the keyboard, and words about God strengthening you could appear on the screen. But that isn’t the tack I want to take today, because what struck me was the little phrase “very present”.

I suspect, and it is just a hunch, that you think of God as being somewhere. Perhaps “up there” in heaven, or “over there” in church. When you pray, it is rather like making a phone call to someone in another city. As soon as you put the phone down, the connection is broken and the person is gone.

Yet God is here described as “very present”. Prayer is not connecting with someone “out there”, but someone who was here all along. It is speaking to someone who already knows, and who is at hand. Someone who is “very present” as you chunter out your problems.

The Reek of Master Patrick Hamilton

If you go to St Andrews and make your way to the University chapel you will find in the pavement just outside some letters made out in brick. They read “PH” and mark the spot on which a young man was burnt for his faith.

The Hesitant Woman

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. (Luke 8:42) - She wasn’t bold like Jairus, she didn’t fall at Jesus’ feet and implore him to help. She just came up behind him, and reached out to touch “the fringe of his garment”. And was healed.

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