Through the Glass, Darkly… Look, See, Pray

Hampton Court has been a Royal Palace for 500 years. Built by a Cardinal, and acquired by Henry VIII, it was the centre of political intrigue for the Tudor dynasty. Splendid and beautiful, it is truly impressive, expensive, and very large!

Visiting with friends, we took the tour to see the State rooms and humbler servant’s halls. Displays of Tudor cooking and costumed actors tried to re-create the atmosphere of power and wealth. It was educational, interesting, and even inspiring. Later reflections took a more sinister tone.

It was the window that did it. Sorting through photos taken that day, I was taken aback by the lack of transparency from outside. Anyone could have been inside that room behind the blank, dark glass.

In its history, there have been meetings of the powerful and plots by the politicians. King Henry VIII stood within those rooms and issued his decrees and made his “arrangements” on behalf of the kingdom. There was little challenge to an absolute monarch, although factions sought influence and preference. Some of that history was grand spectacle and daring adventure- some was conniving and expedient, seeking benefit and favour. Visitors looking in would see the blank staring gaze of darkened glass: and know nothing of the machinations within that might change their lives.

March15_049Hampton Court cropPolitics in our own time is making headlines and stirring strife. Yesterday, someone took issue with me for commenting on current issues from a faith perspective- “what has religion to do with politics?” My answer is that Christian faith affects ALL of my life and my interaction with others. Belief that is trotted out on Sunday for a public gallop is of little relevance if it has nothing to say about injustice, deception or greed the rest of the week.

Anyone can be a critic. At this moment it is more positive to call believers to pray for Parliament, Senate, and boardroom; and to pray for the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

Rather than share my opinion about HOW we should pray, I simply suggest we ask God to guide us in our praying. After all, Jesus promised that God’s Holy Spirit would come to aid and direct us… Do you think He meant it?  I doubt that my praying will suddenly provide perfect solutions for difficult and divisive problems; at least, not if I pray alone.

Imagine the possible impact of thousands, millions of believers all united in praying for the good of others – and for the best perfect purpose of Almighty God to overrule the petty squabbles of worried humanity.

Paul the apostle/theologian of the Early Church wrote profound truth. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT) Paul wroteNow we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 

Literally translated from the original Greek language in which Paul wrote,  he means our seeing is as “in a riddle or enigma… the revelation appears indistinctly, imperfectly.” But when God’s purpose is finally clear, we see truly comprehend what we now see as writhing shadow in the smoke and mirrors of politics and media report.

I doubt any of our political leaders have the wisdom or courage to sort out the mess. It seems timely to suggest that we should ask God to help them- and us.

May God grant peace, clarity, and hope.


Text & photographs copyright by Richard Starling, 2019. Bible quotation from the New Living Translation.

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