An exercise in brevity and thanks

I was asked to give a short homily for a service the Chaplaincy of my local hospital produces for hospital and local radio. For various reasons it needed to be short, but also be helpful and meaningful to the hospital patients lives in particular, but also to those who might listen in from further afield. It became my own little act of thanks for Queen Elizabeth II. Here it is.

A reflection on 1 Timothy 6:6-19 for the Sunday Service from the RUH Spiritual Care Centre, broadcast on Bath Radio (the service is available here).

From the moment we come into this world we are on a journey, a journey through time and space.

Last week we said our final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II as she made her final journey on this Earth. It was a sombre occasion, a sad one, but it was not without joy and hope. Joy came in memories of her life, moments in which she made us smile — from travelling to the Olympics with James Bond to sitting down to share tea and marmalade sandwiches with Paddington Bear. Hope came in the legacy of a life fuelled by her faith, a faith which had one eye on the eternal and another on the blessings of the present.

We have just heard a section of a letter written to Timothy back in the first century, a letter which touched on similar themes of joy and hope in the moment. It began by reminding us that we came into this world with nothing and can take nothing with us when we leave it. It encouraged us to not focus on pursuing that which is ultimately damaging to us, but instead to focus on pursuing the riches that God provides in the present with an eye on the hope of God’s eternal gift.

It isn’t that we are encouraged to abandon seeking that which we need. Nor does the letter deny that we can be rightly worried about our needs being met, whether it be the provision of food, finance, good health or something else. What we are encouraged to do is not to be overwhelmed and distracted by the pursuit. It might be that our focus is on getting something or going somewhere that we have dreamt of for years. It might be that our focus is on simply getting through the day that lies ahead of us. That focus might provide the drive to get something or somewhere, but it can stop us from noticing joy, hope and blessings as we travel.

Jesus didn’t come simply to provide a route to eternal treasures, but to show us the treasures that God has provided for the journey. God desires that our senses are awakened to notice the blessings around us in present, so we can live life to the fullest and enjoy the journey through each day of life we receive.

A few days before she died, Queen Elizabeth oversaw a change in Prime Ministers. The photographer sent to capture this moment for posterity captured another unplanned moment, the Queen standing with her stick and handbag in hand, a roaring fire behind her, and her face beaming out a joyful smile. Right to the last, Queen Elizabeth found joy and blessings in the moment; may we do the same. Amen.

Jane Barlow took the photo of the Queen at Balmoral on 6th September 2022. Image © PA

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