‘Great oaks from little acorns grow’ is a saying you may have grown up with. I was thinking about it at a recent visit to the Weston hospice. This year it celebrates 30 years of caring for those who have terminal illness. They have some 600 volunteers and 150 staff offering home care, day centre and in-patient care, medical and pastoral. It costs some £4 million pounds a year, only 20 per cent of which comes from the NHS. The rest comes from grants and donations – and its 17 charity shops. It is remarkable what has been accomplished over three decades and to see the incredible care and compassion.
Also remarkable is that this all began through a small prayer group at Christ church; noticing the need of those fearful of death; and having a vision for what could be. In partnership with others of good will, inspiring them to give time, energy and finance, the Weston hospice was born.
I don’t know how many of those original ‘pray-ers’ still remain. Perhaps some even have benefited from the gift of the hospice themselves! I hope they realise whether in this world or the next, what power their prayers have had and the gift of love they have bequeathed. And I hope that people are still praying for the ongoing work of Weston hospice!
We may not always see the results of our prayers in our own life-times. It takes many years for an oak to grow from an acorn after all. My hope is that we remain faithful and persistent in our praying for what God puts on our heart. A bit like Luke’s telling of the parable of the persistent widow who doesn’t give up on asking the local judge for justice. Jesus poses the follow-up question: ‘Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?’ He goes on to leave the challenge hanging… ‘however, when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?’ Will he find us faithful in persistent prayer I wonder?
The Right Revd Ruth Worsley
Bishop of Taunton
Prayer Calendar – March 2019