Nutella and the Kingdom of God

Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Dear Christ Church,

I want to share a more extended reflection with you that gets to the heart of what keeps me in ministry and applies to each of you too, as a priest in God’s kingdom. But first, let me remind you of three big things this weekend: (1) Wes Crawford’s album release tonight; (2) our property update Sunday at 10am; and (3) a visit from Matt and Lexie Dampier (our new Associate Rector) in both services this Sunday.

I’ve been reading The Christian Priest Today by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and loved this quote, especially in light of the overwhelming complexities of sin and suffering in our world these days. Christ Church, you are doing beautiful and holy work as you faithfully live out your vocations by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Amidst the vast scene of the world’s problems and tragedies you may feel that your own ministry seems so small, so insignificant, so concerned with the trivial. What a tiny difference it can make to the world that you should run a youth club, or preach to a few people in a church, or visit families with seemingly small result. But consider: the glory of Christianity is its claim that small things really matter and that the small company, the very few, the one man, the one woman, the one child are of infinite worth to God. Let that be your inspiration. Consider our Lord himself. Amidst a vast world with its vast empires and vast events and tragedies our Lord devoted himself to a small country, to small things and to individual men and women, often giving hours of time to the very few or to the one man or woman. In a country where there were movements and causes which excited the allegiance of many—the Pharisees, the Zealots, the Essenes, and others—our Lord gives many hours to one woman of Samaria, one Nicodemus, one Martha, one Mary, one Lazarus, one Simon Peter, for the infinite worth of the one is the key to the Christian understanding of the many.

It is to a ministry like that of our Lord himself that you are called. The Gospel you preach affects the salvation of the world, and you may help your people to influence the world’s problems. But you will never be nearer to Christ that in caring for the one man, the one woman, the one child. His authority will be given to you as you do this, and his joy will be yours as well.”

I’m writing this from a retreat center that names the rooms after saints. I am in the St. Julian of Norwich room. This image is of hazelnuts, because the kingdom of God is like Nutella. That’s not exactly what Julian of Norwich said, but she should have. What she did say is similar to what Archbishop Ramsey is getting at in this quote. She likened the hazelnut to the universe, observing that the deeper we go into beholding the wonder, beauty, and complexity of one particular created thing (a simple nut), the closer we are to beholding creation’s universal majesty and grandeur. Likewise, ++Ramsey’s words resonate for all of us that, “the infinite worth of the one is the key to the Christian understanding of the many.”