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... From the Goodnews archives, Mar/Apr 2008

 

Your Word is a lamp to my feet

 

Testimonies on how God‘s Word has changed or significantly influenced people‘s lives

 

 

Here we are starting a new series about scripture passages that have a special place in people’s hearts. To begin, we have three different contributions from a priest, a deacon and a layman. When you have read them, you may feel moved to share a scripture passage that is special for you in some way. If so, you are invited to send in a testimony or story of your own.

Write to:

“Your Word is a Lamp to my feet”
GoodNews Office
Allen Hall,
28 Beaufort Street,
London SW3 5AA
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The Good Samaritan Luke 10: 25-37

I was on a directed retreat. For years I had lived with a dissatisfaction about life which verged on depression but in the weeks before going on the retreat I had recognised a change in my inner condition. I was sinking lower and lower. Everything seemed dark and hopeless. I wasn’t able to see light anywhere. I was frightened, anxious and angry and this retreat was a way of my taking stock and trying to sort myself out.

I shared this with the woman who was my director for the week and she gave me the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which you’ll find in Luke’s Gospel, to pray about. I was unreasonably angry. I’d just shared the mess that I was and this was her response. I took the passage and left the room vowing to myself to leave the retreat. For some reason I stayed and in the midst of all the emotions that I was feeling I took the passage and read it and realised that I was the man beaten up on the road and somewhere I was going to have to be open to a Good Samaritan.

Things didn’t change overnight but God sent me many Good Samaritans who picked me up and bandaged my wounds. Some I had known well and know well. Others were given to me for the journey like the therapist who helped me to see why I felt the way that I did. As time went on I found healing and learnt how to hope again and I will ever be grateful to the Lord for letting me recognise myself beaten up on the road of life. Whenever I feel a little wobbly these days I know that God will send a Good Samaritan and there is no need to be afraid.

Fr Chris Thomas


The Samaritan Woman John 4: 4-42

As one who was converted late in life, having left the Church in my late teens, I have often thought of the story of the prodigal son as the scripture passage which I can identify with most easily. I left. I squandered. I came back and was forgiven. Yet there is another story which has also touched me deeply in more recent years, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. We don’t know her circumstances in detail but we do know she has had five husbands and is living with someone who is not her husband (Jn 4: 17-18). So we may infer that she is a sinner and possibly an outcast in her village who must come to the well alone because the other women refuse to associate with her and her loose ways. She is also a Samaritan, not a member of the “chosen” Jewish race. And yet Jesus, knowing all this, speaks to her and reveals himself to her explicitly as he does to no other in any of the gospels. She says “I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will explain everything.” (Jn 4: 25) Jesus replies, “That is who I am, I who speak to you.” (Jn 4: 26) And she believes. She believes so strongly that her words alone back in the village are enough to convince her neighbours. “Many Samaritans of that town believed in him on the strength of the woman’s words of testimony.” (Jn 4: 39) Remember, she was a sinner and could hardly have been taken as a reliable witness before this. Yet many believed on the strength of her words!

The story does not parallel my own as the story of the prodigal son does, but it speaks to me in a special way nevertheless. Like the Samaritan woman, I have been a great sinner and, like her, though late in life, I have heard Jesus (in the spirit) and believe. And though I cannot claim to have witnessed as she did so successfully, her example makes me eager to do so. So, when I pray with her story, I pray that I too might have the grace she received and be a worthy witness of the Word to others in my life.

Shaun Growney


 

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STARS IN THE SKY

“The learned will shine brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.” Daniel 12:3. [Jerusalem Bible]

Back in 1998 at the Servant Leaders Conference in Fiuggi I was given a word that called for us all to be individual fires in a dark world and to gather together to become a beacon of light for the world. I was also given the Daniel 12:3 script to affirm what was being said. I was not familiar with the Daniel script at that time but was familiar with a Philippians’ verse.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be innocent and pure, as God’s perfect children who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life.” Philippians 2:14-17. [Jerusalem Bible]

It was only quite recently, while reflecting on the Philippians reading in the Office of Readings. [Wednesday week 26], that I began to ponder the close link between the two passages. We are called “to instruct many in virtue” (Daniel) and to “offer the message of life” to “a world of corrupt and sinful people” (Philippians). Why had I not spotted this before? In many translations of the Philippians verse, there is a full stop after “sky” leaving out the clause “as you offer them the message of life”. So it was with great interest that I read Shirley Harrington’s article about keeping the lighthouse windows clean in issue 193 of GoodNews for it seemed to carry the same sentiment that, in all we do, we must each, in our own way, shine out the world.

Deacon John Edwards