The Shewings of Julian of Norwich

I’ve been meaning to make a weblog of The Shewings of Julian of Norwich available for sometime, and I’ve finally done it:

Consider it a Christmas present.

Julian (or Juliana) lived in the English village of Norwich in the fourteenth century. She received sixteen “Shewings” (or “Revelations”) which she later wrote down; these were separated into 86 chapters. This weblog will post two chapters, one on Saturday, one on Wednesday. This translation from Julian’s Middle English was done by Grace Warrack and published in 1901. The text was reformatted from the text provided by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library; the text version is used by permission; the content is in the public domain. More recent translations are available, although they are in copyright. Julian’s clear and elegant prose is reasonably easy to read even in Middle English; and Georgia Ronan Crampton’s edition of The Shewings (originally published in print by Medieval Institute Publications of Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1994) is also available on-line, with notes.

What is Due?

If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” Proverbs 11:31

It is the day after Christmas when you are reading this (but early Christmas evening when I am writing it). For most of us the presents are unwrapped, the Christmas eaten and the dishes cleaned up, Christmas sweets have been had, and farewells have been said. And hopefully the most important task has been done for this Christmas season; thank yous have been given and received for all the gifts and bounty that has been enjoyed. My son, my youngest, is always very diligent about thanking me for a good meal and the gifts he receives.

So in answer to the question posed in the title of this writing, what is due is thanks. Thanks to God for the gift of the Messiah and salvation. Thanks for the love that God shows to us not just at Christmas but every day of the year. I hope in addition to the thank yous that you have given to friends and family, you have thanked God.

However, while this is good advice, it does not address completely the meaning of this verse from Proverbs. This verse talks not about what is God’s due, but what we as children of God will receive. Jan Hendrickss captures the essence of the verse when he says, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” The verse in The Message is very succinct when it says, “If good people barely make it, what’s in store for the bad!”

The implication is that good people have to struggle to be good, and even then ‘good’ may not be good enough. Hmmm . . . . Seems to me we may be right back at thanking God for salvation through Christ, and the example of Christ’s life for us to follow and live up to. All other gifts and bounty of the season aside, we have a lot to be thankful for.

May you raise a song of praise and thankfulness to God this Christmas season. And may God bless you abundantly. Selah!