As Christians, we need all kind of words from God – sometimes we need words of hope, sometimes we need words of challenge or rebuke. Sometimes we just need to hear words of sheer over-whelming love. In November, we’ll hear “comfortable” words, words of assurance, words of grace, and words of salvation!
Why am I calling them “Cranmer’s Comfortable Words”? Because Cranmer was the great English reformer at the time of the protestant reformation. It was Cranmer who gave us the “Book of Common Prayer”. Phrases from its pages like “Speak now or forever hold your peace,” “Till death us do part,” or “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” have become enshrined in the consciousness of virtually very English speaker.
But it wasn’t always so popular. It was a radical book. A book that threatened the medieval church. A book for which Cranmer would eventually be burned at the stake. Up until the reformation, church services in England had only ever been in Latin. Latin was said to be the “heavenly” language – but only if you were an insider. It meant that ordinary people were kept at a distance. And that’s how the “church” liked it, because it meant the holy-rollers held ALL the power. Cranmer wanted break that power and extend God’s gracious welcome to everyone! While this was amazing (and well overdue) it was also new and scary. How could you really know you were welcome at God’s table? You needed to hear words of comfort along the way – Cranmer’s comfortable words!
Sunday November 6 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28)
Sunday November 13 ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
Sunday November 20 ‘The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ (1 Timothy 1:15)
Sunday November 27 ‘If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.’ (1 John 2:1-2)