A Quiet Word – March 2021
A Quiet Word – March 2021
Some of you may recall the quiet word from October 2020 when I used
the first part of a scripted scene from one of my favourite films: The Spirit
of St. Louis (1957) in which Charles A. Lindbergh ‘Slim’ played by James
Stewart is trying to teach Father Hussman played by Marc Connelly to fly
and consider the question – where do we feel closer to God? While Slim felt the Father was
closer to God when trying to land, we never heard his pupil’s response or indeed the rest of
the conversation, so let’s see what happened next:
Father Hussman: Nonsense! I can land fine. I’ve got a special prayer for landings.
Slim: Don’t you think you need a little more than that?
Father Hussman: Mmhmm. I also have a prayer for takeoffs, for engine trouble, for rough
air… all kinds of prayers. Would you like to hear the one for landings? It’s out of The Psalms.
Slim: No thank you, Father.
Father Hussman: Slim, don’t you ever pray?
Slim: Well, I don’t have to. I know how to land.
Father Hussman: How come I never see you around church? You don’t believe?
Slim: Well, yes, I believe. I believe in an instrument panel, a pressure gauge, a compass,
things I can see and touch. I can’t touch God.
Father Hussman: You’re not supposed to! He touches you!
Slim: Now Father just suppose you were up in this aeroplane all alone and you stalled it and
you were falling like a rock – do you really think God would help you out of it?
Father Hussman: Well, I can’t say yes or no, but he’d know I was falling!
It struck me. in this scene that here we have the contrast between those of us who believe
in an unseen God and those who do not because they cannot believe unless they have
physical proof that God exists and trust of belief in something only relates to things they
can see and touch – as Slim says – “I can’t touch God!” Father Hussman had faith that God
knew exactly where he was and would help him out if he got into difficulty – he had prayers
for every occasion. His prayer for landings was out of the Psalms. He doesn’t say which one
it was, but I imagine it would most likely have been from Psalm 139:1-10. To summarise:
V1: God searches us and knows us completely. V2: He knows what we are thinking – he
knows when we sit down and when we get up and V3: when we go out and when we lie
down. He knows all our ways and V4: knows what words we are about to say before we
To love and serve God in our local community
even utter them. V5: God hems us in and surrounds us with his protection. God lays his hand
upon us. V7: He does this in such a way that we cannot go from His Spirit or flee from his
presence. V8: When we fly up to the heavens he is there; when we make our bed in the
depths he is there. V9: We can rise up on the wings of the dawn and settle on the far side
of the sea, but God knows exactly where we are – he has eyes and ears everywhere and V10:
his hands guide us and hold us fast. As Father Hussman said we are not supposed to touch
God, instead He touches us and holds us in His hands. If we try to run away to the farthest
places, God knows exactly where we have gone and just what we need and helps us out –
even when we stall and when we feel that our lives our in freefall. God is happy to hear all
kinds of prayers at any time.
But even those who believe can have doubts. As we reflect during Lent and as we look
forward to Easter, there is one particular event following Jesus’ resurrection which gives a
great example of this. Thomas was the disciple who doubted that Jesus had risen from the
dead – he wasn’t present when Jesus first appeared to his fellow disciples in that the locked
upper room. He refused to accept that Jesus had been with them unless he saw Jesus for
himself and saw the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and touch – put his fingers where they had
been and put his fingers into his side. (John 20:24-25). Some people we meet can be like
doubting Thomas when we reveal our unseen faith in God. They want physical proof of Jesus
and God’s existence. In those circumstances, all we can do is try share the reason for our
faith, our belief that God is ever present in our daily lives. Telling our story is one way in
which people can relate to us – we share a common humanity and empathy in our daily lives.
We can listen to their struggles and share our experiences of those difficult times in our lives
where we have needed help and how our faith in the unseen God has helped us. We can
also pray and continue to pray for that person and leave the convicting power of Holy Spirit
to do the rest.
We especially remember in prayer and hold in love all those in the church family and the
wider fellowship who are unwell at the moment; those who have recently been bereaved
and missing loved ones; those who are at home and finding homeschooling and daily life
hard; and those with ongoing health, family, job, and financial worries. May they and you
know the special touch and closeness of God’s loving presence in the days to come.
Blessings and Love,