A classic theory of the mind (apparently) is that it is the seat of understanding, memory and will. St John of the Cross (according to the Archbishop of Canterbury) linked these with faith, hope and love. The Archbishop gave a lecture in Lincoln Cathedral yesterday morning, before presiding at the Eucharist in the afternoon on the centenary of the death of Bishop Edward King. He is in Grimsby this morning.
Where there is a crisis of confidence in our ability to understand, we are led into faith. It might be the point where we find our academic endeavour is not in the end sufficient for our purpose of seeking understanding. It might be the point at which society has too many competing claimants for being the source of truth. At these moments we can receive a gift of fresh awareness of the extent to which our trust in the dependability of God is much more akin to a relationship than it is to an enquiry.
Where there is a crisis of confidence in the concepts of history and identity fed by our memory, we are led into hope. It might be the point where our memory fails. It might be the point at which society manufactures or relies on partial stories to bolster its sense of identity. At these moments we must be patient and open to receive a gift of hope in the continuity of what God knows about our past and knows about our future which does not rely on the soundness of our memory.
Where there is a crisis of confidence in our choices and desires, we are led into love. It might be the point at which we find consumer choice a vapid selection from options which differ little from each other. It might be the point at which we see how satisfying our own appetites and inclinations depends on using or perhaps even harming or devaluing others. At these moments we are called into greater generosity, hospitality and love which does not begin with our own will.
So a church for the twenty-first century needs to be characterised by its dependence and dependability, its patience, and its hospitality. Not so much that it teaches clearly, has confidence, and does good. More that people detect a relationship with God, huge space for themselves to develop into the people God wants them to be, and being with others of infinite value.