Sermon: Julian of Norwich

In the last two verses of our Psalm, we read:

Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.”
Your face, Lord, will I seek.

I love to read, but I’ll occasionally go through a phase when I don’t even want to pick up a book, so I’ll end up binge watching something on the TV for a few weeks. Then I’ll get tired of that and go back to a book. It’ll happen with other things as well, but… the Psalmist said, “You speak in my heart and say, ‘Seek my face.’ Your face, Lord, will I seek.” Have you ever gone through a phase when you just didn’t feel like seeking His face? I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand if you have, because that is not the kind of thing that good Christian folk like to confess, but do you occasionally find yourself a bit tired of seeking him, wondering about His will, and all that? As I said, I won’t ask you to confess, but if you said you’ve never experienced those types of feelings then I would say you need to go to confession for fibbing. It is something that we all experience at times and it is those times where our faith is truly demonstrated.

A mature Christian will continue on with their faith and their practices, knowing that these are times of wilderness, but not abandonment by God. However, others will begin to drift away and perhaps one of the first things to go is prayer. When it just seems like we’re filling the air with words that are unheard and accomplish nothing, then why bother, but it is the prayers in the wilderness that will see us through, because it is through them that we maintain the relationship with the Father.

Julian of Norwich, who we celebrate today, spoke about this in the second part of her fourteenth revelation that is contained in her Revelations of Divine Love. “Our Lord is very glad and happy that we should pray, and he expects it and wants it… for this is what [the Lord] says, ‘Pray earnestly even though you do not feel like praying, for it is helping you even if you do not feel it doing you any good, even if you see nothing, yes, even if you think you cannot pray; for in dryness and in barrenness, in sickness and weakness, then your prayers give me great pleasure, even if you feel that they are hardly pleasing to you at all. And it is so in my sight with all your trustful prayers.’” Julian says, “God accepts the good intentions and the effort of those who serve him, whatever we are feeling.” (p.100)

To us, it may seem fruitless, but in a time of barrenness, that feeling of the absence of God, to stop praying is to break off from the relationship, so regardless of how we feel, we must stay engaged, because it is through our faithfulness and this engagement that we will once again feel the presence of God.

If you say, “I just don’t feel like praying. I don’ t have anything to say,” then take that good advice of Archbishop Michael Ramsey, “Pray that you could pray,” but don’t stop praying.

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