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Cnr of Park Rd and MacMahon St, Hurstville Sundays at 9:30 am and 6:30 pm

The Winding Stairs

A spiral staircase leads up to the old bell tower at the church where I serve. The staircase is by no means grand, yet is still a delight and great source of intrigue for young visitors. I’m sure however that one day the building-regulators will find something that is too dangerous about it, and insist that it be physically locked and plastered with cautionary signs.

But they will be too late. About four centuries ago, the old puritan William Gurnall, exposed the danger of the stairs. In describing the way that the devil often takes people to places where they do not want to go, he used the perceptive expression, The Winding Stairs. Where the bottom cannot be seen from the top. Where the descent is by one small step at a time. Where the victim is happily distracted by the sense of being in control, while subtly descending to their ruin.

The devil is a consistent character, and employs the same methods again and again. He took Eve down the winding stairs, and he has taken many of her descendants down the same path. He has the advantage of course that our lives are short, and that we constantly fail to heed the lessons learned by previous generations. And so he offers his arm to another generation to lead them to the winding stairs, and whispers great encouragements while they begin their descent.

Who then shall help us in the face of such craft? “With force of arms we nothing can. Full soon were we down-ridden. But for us fights the proper Man, Whom God Himself hath bidden. Ask ye who is this same? Christ Jesus is His Name. The Lord of Host’s Son. He, and no other one, Shall conquer in the battle.” (Luther).

DM 14th July 2015

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