In the Anglican prayer book, the readings in the King James Bible for St Stephen’s Day repeat John 1:1. He that believeth, I sit there as light pours in.
St John the Evangelist
I go back to the open empty church and try to understand the parting words of Christ to John who affirms that all this is true. Happy those who have great faith.
A Times journalist had written a particularly nasty piece about Christianity. He went to a Christmas Day service but of course only for the music and the pretty fairy tale. But he made one good point: the Archbishop of Canterbury should have concentrated in his talk about convincing people of the existence of God. Of course the church is right to speak about poverty. But the modern day crisis, which sets us apart from previous generations, is not our concern or lack of concern for the poor but our lack of faith. The Archbishop cannot convince anyone of course in one or a dozen sermons. Faith is not an arithmetical problem. But he could say, I believe that we must persevere.
Faith does not come except in rare fortunate cases for life in a flash. It is not a question of having blue or brown eyes. One keeps them forever. You have to persevere. In Catholicism we have the great gift of the daily mass. I find it a great consolation. But other denominations have their daily communal worship, or at least we should be encouraged to go in for daily communal worship. My faith is like a high gear bicycle. I have to pedal furiously every day to make a little progress. Others have a low gear religious mind. With little effort, on the flat anyway, they can go along at a tremendous lick.
I was lying awake thinking of all this but these, I thought, are just arguments. What is important is to pray. I prayed very slowly as I got to ‘Thy will be done’ I thought maybe His will is an increase in faith and in my mind’s eye I saw a light, rectangular, solid stone, like one of the Stonehenge stones, but in pure white light. I wonder do self-proclaimed atheists never have religious experiences?