One of the books I have been reading during our isolation has been Andrew Bradstock’s biography of David Sheppard, the authorised biography of the celebrated cricketer and bishop, entitled ‘Batting for the Poor’. In that there is a side comment that David Sheppard preferred the description ‘the waiting father’ instead of the prodigal son as we usually call that parable. In fact it comes from the German theologian Helmut Theilicke’s book title: The Waiting Father: Sermons on the Parables of Jesus. It set me thinking about who is the waiting father. And who is he for us all? Well, of course God.
I had found it difficult to concentrate on church things during the early stages of isolation as the Covid-19 virus swept the land.
However here was something that stirred my thinking. The waiting Father. Here is God, always the patient, caring person who has all the time in the world – before time, during time and so onward to infinity. Always waiting for us to come to him. Always there. Whatever we have done in our lives. Whenever we have sinned and gone off the rails. God gives us grace to do whatever we do, and he is with us all wherever we are.
So God is waiting for us as we have been in and are coming through this time of isolation. We have had the opportunity to reflect on our lives, and we have through God’s grace been able to still be in contact with many. Now we shall have the chance to re-build relationships with all those we come across. We pray that we may have greater impetus to seek God’s Kingdom here on earth. May we reflect on our use of energy, reflect on how we may need to travel less, and reflect on how we have it in our hands to approach the crisis of Climate Change with the same rigour as we have addressed the Covid-19 virus. So may we be able to show in our lives that each and every one of God’s people, locally and around the world is of equal value, better overcoming all our prejudices. And this is all surrounded by the love of ‘Our, the waiting Father’.
(Incidentally, I did meet Professor Theilicke in Hamburg in August 1957, and recorded that in a school book on our Journey to an Anglo-Scandinavian Conference in Sweden that I wrote as a long essay for English.)
Paul Ramsey (Reader), 4 July 2020.