‘Never be too big to ask questions…


Words for compline on the feast of St Philip…

‘Never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.’

Today the church celebrates St Philip. One of Jesus’ apostles…but someone about whom, individually, we know very little.

He is mentioned by name three times in John’s gospel:

In John 1 he tells Nathaniel about Jesus. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ asks Nathaniel…”Come and see” says Philip – opening the door for both their lives to be changed for ever.

In John 6, faced with a crowd of 5000 hungry people Jesus asks him “Where are we to buy bread for these people?”…”Six months wages wouldn’t buy enough bread,” says Philip – opening the door for Jesus to show just what God’s generosity looks like.

In John 14, as Jesus tries to explain what his death will mean, Jesus says, “If you know me you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

“Lord show us the Father and we will be satisfied,” says Philip – opening the door for Jesus to despair over Philip’s unbelief, but also for Jesus’ farewell discourse to the disciples – four rich chapters of revelation.

Not a very glorious record…but in some ways infinitely important. Philip – a disciple not afraid to say what others were thinking. Not afraid to ask the questions that prompted actions and teaching that 2000 years later are still enabling encounters with God, still revealing the truth.

‘Never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.’

We’re not always very good at this. If we’re new in a situation, we worry that everyone else knows the answer, that to ask will make us look silly, will reveal our ignorance.

If we’ve been around for years, we wish we’d asked the question when we first came, when we were new, to ask it now is to admit we’ve been ignorant for years.

Sometimes we feel we know enough, more than those around us, we don’t need to learn something new.

So as we remember St Philip, we might also remember that questioning, wondering, admitting our ignorance…is a way of living a life where there is growth.

Because if we are aware that there is always more to learn, then our lives are open to be changed by God.

One of the many great things about working with Matthew is that he is always asking questions – so I’m going to end by stealing a quotation from a Richard Rohr book that Matthew put on twitter last week.

“Creative doubt keeps me with a perpetual ‘beginner’s mind’, which is a wonderful way to keep growing, keep humble and keep living in happy wonder.”


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