William Temple

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 56, 57, [58] (Morning)
Psalm 64, 65 (Evening)
Neh. 6:1-19
Rev. 10:1-11
Matt. 13:36-43


William Temple

In 1942 when William Temple became Archbishop of Canterbury, the German invasion of Britain seemed imminent. It was a tense time – with plots as thick and dangerous as those Nehemiah chronicles during the building of the Jerusalem wall; with apocalyptic images of thunder and bitterness as real as John’s Revelation; with conflict between wheat and weeds, good and evil as stark as a parable.

William Temple embraced a vision of Christian activism to promote the common good, advancing economic and social reforms benefitting the working class, education reform making learning more affordable and equitable, including meals and milk at school. He fostered ecumenical cooperation among Christian denominations and co-founded the Council of Christians and Jews to combat anti-Semitism. His ability to listen to all sides of conflicts helped him mediate a major strike with a settlement that both sides saw as fair. He advanced the ideas of Christian Socialism inherited from Frederick Denison Maurice.

And he could preach. At the end of a revival series in Oxford, he stopped the congregation just before the last stanza of the hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” He charged the congregation to read the word to themselves.

“Now, if you mean them with all your heart, sing them as loud as you can. If you don’t mean them at all, keep silent. If you mean them even a little and want to mean them even more, sing them very softly.” The organ played, and two thousand voices whispered:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far to small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

For many who participated, it was a never-forgotten experience.


Written by The Rev. Lowell Grisham; Rector

Lowell grew up Episcopalian in Oxford, Mississippi where he was strongly impacted by the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960’s. It planted in him a willingness to question inherited assumptions and to work for generosity and inclusion in a diverse society. Lowell served parishes in Mississippi and Arkansas before coming to St. Paul’s, Fayetteville in 1997. He and his wife Kathy have been married since 1975 and have two children and three grandchildren.

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