The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Do you trust ‘the system’ or do you expect that things will go awry and plan for it? I am no longer fussed about being caught in traffic as much as I was decades ago. There is little I can do about traffic jams – as I and Good Shepherd found out on Sunday. But the thought did come across my mind as I left Good Shepherd to go down to Portsmouth (yes, the Sea Cadet Summer Camp was lots of fun) that one traffic jam might be regarded as unfortunate whereas two is just plain careless. The thing is I could have prepared for the traffic jams. I did it for a funeral in the Midlands – left Suffolk to arrive 2 hours earlier than needed with work to do in the car while I waited – and on that occasion I did get stuck in traffic jams so bad that I got out of the car to get cars and trucks to move a little so I could inch my way forward – and arrived just in time. I wasn’t late on that occasion. So the truth is that if I had thought like that on Sun- day I probably would have been on time. But then I wouldn’t have finished the work I did before I left. But with more planning maybe I could havedone that work the day before. With this line of thinking I am almost in Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshireman’ sketch and getting up half an hour before going to bed!
Do we trust or do we expect things to go wrong and plan for it?
Of course we want to trust. Living together in groups is so much easier and safer if everyone does as they say they will and behaves in an agreed manner (I’m assuming we’re going to promote such things as honesty, courage, discipline, faithfulness, truthfulness). We wouldn’t have to put in checks and preparations for failures or betrayals. We wouldn’t have to look out for ourselves so much and the temptation to corruption would lessen. I’m thinking that the emotional energy and time saving alone would be worth a world experiment – that we all act trustworthily for say a year and then review and see whether it was worthwhile.

I remember when my children were young, I would try and get across the point that telling the truth was very important because trust between us was probably the key thing that would help us live together well. We choose whom we trust and part of that is looking for someone who is trustworthy.
Another word for trust is faith. In all the talk about religion and spirituality and deities, being religious seems to have at its core ‘Whom do you trust?’ Which God? Does/do he/she/they have a name? I think everyone has such thoughts at one time or another. Trusting one’s deity is more than nowledge about religion and doctrines and deities. There’s a putting your money
where your mouth is so to speak; a personal engagement which is more than just knowledge. I have found over the years that I don’t understand God at times. I recognise a desire to make him into my image; to try and get him to do what I want. I don’t like suffering – for myself obviously but also in the world. If I am weary about the injustice and evil in the world and believe I know how to fix things, I wonder how God can stand it – but then that means I’m shaping him again into my image. What I found over the decades is that the story of the cross and empty tomb simply doesn’t go away and it has ‘captured’ me. The world can’t stop the story being told. And in that story and all the orbiting stories stands, as it were, Jesus who reveals God and that God is for me – for the world – and not against us. I don’t so much trust God – hold onto God – but rather it is this story – those events in particular about Jesus who stays close to me and is with me – that calls me – sometimes happily and joyfully, some- times wearily and confusedly – to trust him again. And I do think that over the decades Jesus has saved me a lot of worry and angst along the way! Jesus is the most trustworthy person ever.

As for the roads and this world … well, maybe I could leave a little earlier – and take a book! –GS