Bristol United Church of Christ     "The Church on the Hill"
Bristol United Church of Christ         "The Church on the Hill"  

Pastor's Corner


The Pastor’s Pen


Faith, in Uncertain Times


              Old, aching God, grey with endless care,

   calmly piercing evil’s new disguises,

              glad of good surprises, wiser than despair:

              Hail and Hosanna, old aching God!


The fourth verse of Brian Wren’s soaring hymn, “Bring Many Names” (number 11 in our New Century Hymnal) says a lot about faith in uncertain times. First, let’s remember that every time and age has had uncertainty, difficulty, trauma, hardship, and etc., for some people. Perhaps we notice it more when we are the ones contending with the difficulty and uncertainty, but is always there. According to the hymn, God is old. I think we can all agree on that. But Wren also affirms that God cares and has for ages. So much, in fact, that God is both grey and aching from the emotion, and also with the acts of caring for creation and people. This line assures us that we are not alone in this life; God IS WITH us.


Look at the second line, “calmly piercing evil’s new disguises.” Wren doesn’t mince words: Evil is as old as time itself. Evil is not “of God.” Evil always disguises itself so that it won’t appear evil. And God is ever watchful and caring for how evil in this world acts against love, which is what God is – LOVE. What do suppose it is that surprises God and causes God to be glad? I think it is people who surprise God. I think it is people who work for the good, not only for themselves, but for others. And, I would say, working especially for the benefit others who can’t achieve the goals of life, health, safety, and agency on their own. It can be easy for us to despair of the evil in the world. After all, what can just a few of us do against evil, we might think. But God is wise, says Wren. God has faith in us. God knows the goodness of what God has created us to be. And God knows that we are able.


In an old science fiction movie that is a favorite of mine, an advanced visitor from the stars tells the human who is helping them escape the ones who will kill them: “Shall I tell you what I love most about your species? You are at your absolute best when things are at their absolute worst.” I love that line. I think about it often when I’m afraid for the future; afraid for my children; afraid for my friends who are not evil just because they’re not just like everyone else. God became a

seemingly powerless person in Jesus Christ in order to show us God’s faith in our human ability to love and do good. Hail and Hosanna means praise and save us, God. Our old aching God is with us so that we may be with others who love and care for God’s people, all of them. Keep faith in God, I say, for God keeps faith in us.