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Hallo again to all.

The phrase 'seek and ye shall find' is so deeply imbedded in popular English that it's easy to lose track of its origins. To some people, it's Google's motto. To others, it's the start of the second verse from a lovely little round. The words come from the KJV translation of Matt 6:33 and Matt 7:7.

The Holy GrailThose passages, of course, come from Jesus' sermon on the mount. The sentences and their presumed meaning have been on our mind in recent months as we watch the squabbles in our church.

When church people talk to one another, one often hears the words 'seeker' and 'quest'. Used here, they mean approximately the same thing. Some churches offer seeker's classes or quester's classes for new members, and the words are used in discussing congregational strategy, population distributions, and more. Non-Christians in Christian countries often use 'Seeker' to describe themselves, as a statement that they have not yet found their saviour.

Sometimes one can get so caught up in a quest that it becomes an activity in its own right. Diogenes of Sinope is best known not for his teachings or writings, but for his search for an honest man. The quest became his identity. Lancelot and Galahad devoted their lives to seeking the holy grail. We have no idea what Diogenes would have done had he actually found an honest man, nor can we imagine how Lancelot would cope with actually finding the holy grail. And we note with a smile that according to most accounts of the legend, Galahad found it only because Jesus arranged for him to find it.

We brood on 'seek and ye shall find', we want to blurt out 'But if ye do not seek, ye shall not find.' Not literally scriptural, but good common sense. To our way of thinking, failure to seek is one of the causes of much acrimony in the Anglican world today. We're sure that a true Anglican Communion exists, but one might have to go looking for it. So many seem to wait for it to come to them, or complain that it is gone or broken without seeking further.

A glass slipperSeeking seems virtuous, and Jesus exhorted us to seek. Seek we must, but it's easy to do wrong*. It's easy to seek by deciding on the answer, then launching a quest for the question that will yield that answer. Consider the prince's quest for Cinderella, wherein he carried a glass slipper around the kingdom, looking for the woman it would fit. Had he not actually met Cinderella; had he decided a priori that he would only marry a woman whose foot was comfortable in a 2.5 narrow, this would have been a deranged activity. Many of those who say they are seeking a 'true Anglican communion' started that quest with a glass slipper: they formed an idea of what the answer would be, and then went out looking for a match, complaining when they didn't find one.

The Anglican Communion is out there. Go find it. The advice in the Bible looks pretty good to us: Seek and ye shall find, but seek ye first the Kingdom of God. But don't let the seeking consume you. And don't take along any glass-slipper preconceived notions of what it is; that would be the wrong sort of quest.

See you next week.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 25 July 2004

*Yes, we know that 'wrong' is a judgment, which Jesus also exhorted us not to do, lest we be judged.

A thin blue line
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