A very helpful letter here from Bishop Peter
A reflection from Rt Revd Peter Hill Let us run with perseverance, looking to Jesus.
The great American inventor, Thomas Edison famously said, 'Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration. '
I am sensing the perspiration and weariness of many, as we continue to deal with the multitude of ministry and personal pressures of this time. Anxiety levels are of course rising once again with the increase in coronavirus infection rates, adding to the sweat. It is getter harder!
Back in 2000 when I was vicar of a Nottingham mining community, the curate and I were training hard to run the Robin Hood Half Marathon to raise money for a church sound system. Five weeks out from the race I had a freak accident and tore my ankle ligaments. I could not run again until a few days before. I was determined to make some effort as a lot of people had sponsored me.
I struggled round the 13 miles, half running and half hobbling, my ankle feeling like a lead weight holding me back.
I was not bothered about winning or finishing high up in the field. All I could think of was crossing that finishing line and getting home. But when I finally, totally exhausted, got near the finishing line there were enormous cheers. Not because the crowd all knew of my trials and tribulations but because they were cheering home all the stragglers like me. It felt great to cross that finish line. Despite all I had made it!
Very few of us are geniuses like Thomas Edison, but we can and will make it through this pandemic. Yes, there will be further pain and loss along the way and much perspiration, but our inspiration is much, much more than 1% or even 99%. It is 100% the Lord Jesus Christ himself 'the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.' (Hebrews 12:2).
The picture in the writer of Hebrew's mind is of course an ancient Greek athletics stadium 'surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses' cheering on the athletes to the finish. For us Christian disciples the race is of course simply about finishing, not winning. In doing so it is necessary to press on and get rid of any hindrances that hold us back. Sadly, I couldn't avoid my bad ankle handicapping me on that half marathon, but I have learnt the hard way since, that my own disabling nostalgias, resentments, lacks of forgiveness and regrets have at times weighed me down and entangled me on my journey of discipleship and service. It is then that I have found the genius of Christian faith is as the writer of Hebrews says, to 'look away to Jesus' (the most accurate translation of the original language); away from my human frailties and sins to the one who has gone before me in the race and inspires me to keep going.
Early in my Christian journey, when I was up against it for various reasons, someone asked me if I knew the 11th commandment? I said that I did not. 'Thou must bash on' came the reply.
We all need to look away to Jesus and pray for the gift of perseverance at this most challenging of times. + Peter
Team Rector St Paul's and St Mary's
43 Upper Park Harlow