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  • Writer's picturePhil


At one time it was accepted that,

if you were asked to give a job reference for someone,

only the interviewing panel would read what you said.

Gone are the days when you could say:

“Don’t touch this person with a barge-pole;

we’ve had nothing but trouble from him since he joined us”

In these days of transparency,

when job-applicants have a right to see what is on file,

it is advisable for referees to take great care in the way things are said

in a job-reference, if you don’t want to end up in court.

So, if you ever find yourself in the position

of writing a reference for somebody whose ability you doubt,

here are some ready-made phrases

to help you camouflage your misgivings:

and I am willing to pass them to you by e-mail or hard-copy,

should a phrase hit you as useful -

“He was fired with enthusiasm”

We were glad to see the back of this one!

“We urge you to waste no time in making this person

an offer of employment”

Don't bother!

“She is at her best in the morning”

She is an excessive Lunchtime drinker. “He is always alert to company developments”

He is an unstoppable office gossip.

“There is nothing you can teach this person”

This person is too stupid, or possibly arrogant.

I cannot say too many good things about this person”

……………which is not what we find at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel

when we hear glowing references of two who were employed by The Lord

in His Temple, Simeon and Anna.

“Simeon is someone who is totally honest, a man of integrity,

totally loyal to The Management.

He has an optimistic disposition,

and he is convinced that, having studied the company’s plan,

The Management is soon to achieve it’s objective. He is a Company Man through and through.”

“Anna has been a totally dedicated worker, always focused, never leaves her desk!

She lives and breathes her work,

and is still as useful to the Company now, even after sixty years of splendid work, as she was when she began here.”

Most important in Luke 2 is the endorsement which Simeon and Anna give of Jesus….Anna’s was a glowing reference,

But - Simeon’s ….?

His reference for Jesus:

“He will be the centre of storm and controversy;

He will bring grief and pain to his mother….

He will cause the fall of many in Israel;

He will cause others to rise in Israel;

He will show up in others their deeper motivation, their inner thoughts.

He will show what truly makes people “tick”.”

Actually, Jesus Himself is just the right person to have on ANY interviewing panel!

He can see through us – he can see our failings, our strengths;

He knows what motivates us;

He knows how to use even the worst motivation

to move His work on through us.

How did St Paul get the job? He was a proud man, not at all easy-going


If Jesus was to interview me –

· He would straight away see what motivates me,

· what are my innermost thoughts,

· what are my aspirations, my expectations.

What is it that motivates me?

What is it that gets me out of bed in the morning,

more than just the need to empty my bladder or the first cup of coffee?

Anna and Simeon were motivated by a deep faith in God

and hope for the future.

So, what is it that motivates me to believe in God?

Is it just the hope of a better life for me in the next life?

Or do we, like Simeon, “look forward to the consolation of Israel”

….the coming of the Kingdom of God, here and now?

Is it our hope for heaven here,

that the world should return to what God had planned for it in the first place …that keeps us going? – a better, Godly life for all?

Or do we think only of our own salvation?

Our candles lit today shine as a symbol of hope, that in our hands the light of Christ will shine on all.

That is yours and my commission.

Take your candle home with you, and put it somewhere you can see it.

Take the light, be the light; that you might be a living sacrament,

a living sign that Christ can shine

through you and me in the darkness

and that God’s world

might be transformed.

"A Light to lighten the Gentiles..."

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