Saturday 27 March 2021


Love, not hate

Read

The Jewish Passover drew near, and many of the country people who had gone up to Jerusalem to purify themselves looked out for Jesus, saying to one another as they stood about in the Temple, ‘What do you think? Will he come to the festival or not?’

From JOHN 11:45-56

Reflect

Some years ago, speaking to a group of young people of different faiths, I asked where they got their news from. Was it though watching or listening to the news on tv or radio, or from picking up a newspaper? The answer, of course, was no. They simply got their news from Social Media, with its complicated algorithms which decided what it thinks you should or want to see, and through the shared posts of friends and comments made on timelines. Whilst social media has so many positives and blessings we know too how rife it can be with rumours and inaccuracies, subjective comments disguised as news, and sometimes awash with intentionally misleading news that turns out to be false.

As Passover draws near, there are many rumours abounding about Jesus. And some of the Pharisees and Scribes, the leaders of the day who feel challenged by him, have been busy bolstering rumours and false news about Jesus. People are talking among themselves, conjecturing if Jesus will come to the festival or not, as they stand around wondering who to listen to, trying to work out what is true. There is an air of tension and many mixed messages. In the midst of these tensions is a plot to kill Jesus who has, for a while, retreated to the countryside, away from the public light. Soon his time will come.

We all have a responsibility to seek the truth and help to create a world that is open and honest. Even the little things we say can have a huge effect on people. We can counter false rumours and misleading negative narratives with kind and gentle words which seek to bring peace not pain. In many ways, the world is so polarised, people are so divided. Today, how can we enter the divisions of our world and live well in that space between people of opposing views? How can we bring peace not pain, truth not rumour, love not hate?

Pray

Loving Father, may we always seek the truth and bring peace not pain to those whom we meet. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 33: Changing Rooms (3)


Introduction

Amazing things happen in the most ordinary of places.  When Jesus sent Peter and John to find a room to prepare the Passover Supper little did they know the amazing things that would happen in that room over the next fifty days!

We continue our sideways glance and quirky look through Scripture (Luke chapters 22-24) from Maundy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, and focus on that ‘Changing Room’ – where the room in which they lodged really did become a venue where they were changed for the good.

Closed Doors

‘Ding!’
It was the doorbell.
They used to have a bell that played Greensleaves
but with all the coming and going
over the last two days it had broken.
And now they were left with a simple ‘Ding.’
The ‘dong’ had long disappeared!
Peter answered the door.
It was Cleopas.
Have we got some news for you!’ he exclaimed,
and then stopped short.  
‘Eughh! What’s that smell?’
‘It’s Matthew,’ said Peter.  ‘He’s cooking again.’
‘What is it this time?  Kedgeree?’
‘No grilled fish.’
‘Oh …very Jamie Oliver!’
‘Apparently it’s all the rage in Jerusalem,’ said Peter.
‘There are Grilled Fish Restaurants
popping up all over the place.
MacDonald’s have even introduced a Mcfish burger.
Anyway, don’t just stand there
Come in. 
Matthew, there’s another one for supper!
So, what’s up?'

‘Well - to cut a long story short!’
shouted Cleopas, 'we’ve seen him!’
‘Who?’
‘Jesus.’
‘When?’
‘On the way to Emmaus.  We didn’t know it was him at the time.  It wasn’t till Supper that it dawned on us!’
‘So why didn’t you bring him back?’
‘He disappeared from our sight.’
‘Cleopas,’ said Peter, ‘I know you have a habit of losing things but this is ridiculous!’
Suddenly, there was commotion in the kitchen:
the drop of a pan and a shout from the fish chef.
He emerged from the kitchen, armed with a fish slice.
And then the questions followed.
‘What did he say?’
‘Where did he go?’
‘How did he look?’
Where is he now?’
‘What should we do?’
‘Slow down, slow down!’ shouted Cleopas.
‘One question at a time…please!’
And then there was silence.
An eerie silence.
'Don’t look now,’ whispered Matthew,
‘but I think there’s a ghost in the room.’
Don’t be stupid!’ said Peter disparagingly.
‘What do you think this is? An episode of Scooby Doo?!’
They turned to where Matthew was staring,
and saw a figure in the room.
Peter stood still.
John froze to the floor.
Matthew dropped his fish slice.
'I’m scared,’ said Bartholomew.
'I’m going,’ said Matthew
as he picked up his fish slice from the floor.
‘What are you so afraid of?’
It was Jesus.
‘Look at me.  Touch me.
I’m flesh and bone.  Hardly a ghost!’
He showed them his hands and feet,
wounded with love.
'This is too good to be true,’ said Thomas.
‘Do you have anything to eat?’ asked Jesus.
‘Well,’ said Peter, ‘as it happens we do have some grilled fish.’
‘It’s Matthew,’ said Cleopas.  ‘He’s been cooking again’
‘I wondered what the smell was!’ said Jesus.
Matthew handed him a piece, with a look of eager expectation.
‘The others are afraid to taste my cooking.
They think it’ll kill them!’
Jesus took the fish and ate it before their eyes.
  
He sat down with them,
led them in a brief Bible study,
telling them everything,
opening their eyes, talking about more promises,
and other things to come.
‘Wasn’t this enough?’ they thought.
‘Is there really more to come?!’
‘Come on,’ said Jesus, ‘we have to move on.’
It seemed he could never stay in one place for long these days.
He pressed the handle of the door.

A few hours late they were climbing the side of a mountain.
‘Mountains, mountains, always mountains,’
moaned James as he climbed.
‘Stop moaning,’ said John.
‘You’ve always been a moaner.  Never happy.'
‘Will you just mind your own business!’ fired James.
‘Will you two stop arguing?’ interrupted Peter.
Jesus raised his hands and blessed them.  And then he was gone.
But this time: no tears, no silence, just joy.
This was the beginning of something.
Things would never be the same. 

Friday 26 March 2021


A share in his divinity

Read

They fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, ‘I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?’ They answered him, ‘We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.’

From JOHN 10:31-42

Reflect

Casting even just a quick eye over history one can appreciate both how amazing human beings can be and how terrible. Inspirational figures stand out as well as despots. Life enhancing advances and discoveries stand alongside destructive and demoralising actions. Is this what it means to be human? To have the potential for such greatness and beauty and the ability to stoop so low?

“You are only a man and claim to be God,” is the accusation thrown at Jesus. Certainly, there is no question about Jesus’ humanity. It’s plain to see. He stands there in their midst, lives alongside them, breathes the same air. And yet there is more.

“God became human so that human beings could become like God,” said St Augustine. Our hope and destiny is to live with God for ever. In Christ we see what it means to be perfectly human, and his Sacred humanity reveals God to us, who stands in our midst, lives alongside us, breathes the same air. The mysteries of God are too much for us to grasp. He is above and beyond us, certainly beyond our understanding. And yet he wants to and does reveal himself to us so that as a prayer uttered by the priest at the Eucharist goes “having shared in our humanity we come to share in his divinity.”

Pray

Loving Father, we see in Jesus true God and true humanity. As he shared in our humanity may we be drawn deeper into his divinity. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 32: Changing Rooms (2)


Introduction

Amazing things happen in the most ordinary of places.  When Jesus sent Peter and John to find a room to prepare the Passover Supper little did they know the amazing things that would happen in that room over the next fifty days!

We continue our sideways glance and quirky look through Scripture (Luke chapters 22-24) from Maundy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, and focus on that ‘Changing Room’ – where the room in which they lodged really did become a venue where they were changed for the good.

Room for Change

Thomas was last in and bolted the door
as he closed out the night.
The warm glow of the lamps did nothing to comfort them.
There was silence in the room.
No tears, no talk.
Just silence.
‘I’ll put the kettle on,’ she said.
It was Mary - practical and down to earth.
She put the kettle on and waited for water to boil.
They drank the tea, hot and sweet.
James slurped his and John nudged him in disapproval.
Sons of Thunder, they were called.
Always arguing.
But this was no time for falling out.  
They had to stick together.
The one thing they had in common had been taken from them.
And now, as their minds were blown by the day’s events,
they had nothing to say to each other.
They concentrated on the ordinary.
Clutching the mugs, picking at the pottery,
holding warmth in their hands.
Seeking comfort in a drink.
Mary busied herself.
Occupying her mind with domestic chores,
trying to fill the void with the mundane.
There was still bread on the table,
crumbs and spilled wine from the night before.
Memories hung in the air.
The lamp flickered,
the flames teased by the draught from the window.
Peter stared at the fire,
looking for a sign of the divine.
A promise of his presence.
An unburned bush.
But nothing.
And then his gaze dropped to the floor,
looking for holy ground and hoping to hear a voice.
He picked at the mud on his shoes
and could think of no reason to remove them.
And then cradled his head in his hands
as if nursing a hangover.
  
Things would never be the same. 

Thursday 25 March 2021


There is no angel now

Read

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

From LUKE 1:26-38

Reflect

There is no angel now but soon she begins to feel the presence of another, growing within her, as her body begins to change, a physical presence that over the months begins to move and kick, eager to move into the world, to move others.

She places her hand upon him, strokes his form, ponders on the past, frets about the future, not too certain what will become of her. Her questions to the angel are open ended. ‘How can this be?’ She trusted the angel’s words which were God’s Words, begins to trust the Word growing within her now, an eloquent expression of God’s love.

There is no angel now but something brighter begins to move, filling her life with God’s love. She breathes, slowly, feels the breath of God, whispering mysteries, telling her she is loved as she loves the one within her very self, and sees something of what God is doing now, as the flesh of her flesh begins to move, to make his presence felt.

Pray

God our Father, through your gentle Spirit helps us to be attentive to the presence of Jesus in our life, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Day 31: Changing Rooms (1)


Introduction

Amazing things happen in the most ordinary of places.  When Jesus sent Peter and John to find a room to prepare the Passover Supper little did they know what would happen in that room over the next fifty days!

During this and the following three Meditations, we take a rather sideways glance, a quirky look, through Scripture (Luke chapters 22-24) from Maundy Thursday to Pentecost Sunday, and focus on that ‘Changing Room’ – where the room in which they lodged really did become a venue where they were changed for the good.

Late Rooms

'www.laterooms.com.  Enter.’
What are you doing?’ asked John
'Booking a room,’ said Peter. 'There are some amazing deals on here…’
‘But he’s already told us how to find the room.’
‘What?  A man carrying a water jar?  And what are the chances of that?’
‘Come on,’ said John, ‘lets give it a go.’
They walked to the city gates.
‘What are the chances of meeting a man carrying a water jar?’ repeated Peter, as he stumbled into a man carrying a water jar.
  
They followed the man and met the owner of the house.
‘We’ve come to see the room for the Passover.’
The room was already prepared.  An ideal venue for a festival.
Upstairs, out of the way.  A proper party room.
They wouldn’t be disturbed.
  
They did a shop at the local super market,
and got all they needed.
John was the creative one and laid the table with royal precision.
‘I think that’s enough, John!’ exclaimed Peter,
as John added yet another table decoration.
‘We have to get it right,’ he replied.
‘We have to get on with it,’ said Peter.  ‘The others will be here soon.’
‘Maybe a bit of atmospheric music?’
‘Maybe not!’
  
Soon they were all sat at table,
staring at him over a lit candle
that cast shadows over the darkened walls.
They waited for words and all they got was silence. 
Not an awkward silence –
but the silence two lovers hold
when they gaze into each other’s eyes.
  
They could have been there for minutes or months,
and then movement as he reached out and offered them food.
A strange disjointed gesture.
Their minds had been fixed on love
and here he was breaking the stillness, the silence…with food.
He gazed at the crust in his hand, lovingly,
as if offering them something rare and precious,
a piece of himself.
‘This is my body,’ he said.
And so they ate.
  
They raised their eyes to him again.
A glass of wine, deep and red, almost a toast.
But not quite.
More a sharing, an intimate moment for friends.
‘This is my blood,’ he said.
It was sweet and strong.
They were intoxicated by love.
  
And then the door opened as someone slipped into the darkness.
The candle flickered in answer to the breeze,
painting ominous pictures on the plaster.
  
Jesus’ eyes followed the one who departed,
and then his gaze fell to the floor
as if focusing in on the future.
And then he rose from table.
The others had been ready for a late night talk,
the kind they’d enjoyed before,
listening to Jesus put the world to rights.
But this night was different.
  
Peter shuddered as Jesus pressed the handle of the door.
He looked at them, a silent gesture to follow.
John glanced back, looking at the table remains.
The remnants of love.
He closed the door behind him.
And then the room was empty.
  
Things would never be the same. 

Wednesday 24 March 2021


Home to the Father’s House

Read

They answered, ‘We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, “You will be made free”?’ Jesus replied: ‘I tell you most solemnly, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now the slave’s place in the house is not assured, but the son’s place is assured. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.’

From JOHN 8: 31-42

Reflect

What does if mean to be free? What does or should it allow us to be or do. Type ‘freedom quotes’ into Google, and you’ll get an array of inspirational, quirky, comical and challenging quotes, conscious as we are that so many people do not have simple basic freedoms, are treated unjustly or with inequality – both far and wide, and here at home.

Whilst many of us may be free to do so many things, it doesn’t mean that we should do them if it means bringing pain or misery to others or to ourselves. Similarly, freedom doesn’t mean having the ability to do anything we like. Whilst many inspirational human beings have pushed the boundaries of what we thought humanity can achieve, some things do actually remain impossible either for individuals or the whole of humanity!

Jesus claims to bring freedom to those who follow him. Committing sin, he says, makes you a slave. But he, as Son liberates us from being a slave to sin, he sets us free to follow God – not in some chaotic, libertine, self indulgent fashion but by living as God has designed us to live. That means living obediently and with hearts full of love. It may seem a contradiction to some – that freedom comes from living obediently. For us, as Christians, it means living in and for God, our creator and loving Father, fulfilling our destiny as his children, being lifted out of all that holds us back, and leading us to the life and love and joy of heaven – home to the Father’s house.

Pray

God our Father, you set us free from sin through the saving death and resurrection of Christ. Help us to live the freedom that comes from being your children. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 30: Mindful of the Love


As part of our 40 meditations on the Mass, we scatter prayers and poetry and hymns to help us reflect further on the deep meaning of the Eucharist.

This hymn, written by Church of England priest, theologian and hymn writer, William Bright (1824-1901), expresses the intimate connection between the Eucharist and the once and for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

In the Eucharist, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.  Through the Eucharist, we place our trust and only hope in all that his death has brought for us and the world.  We acknowledge our unworthiness but we are drawn to the feet of our “most patient Saviour, who canst love us still.”

 And now, O Father, mindful of the love
 that bought us, once for all, on Calvary's tree,
 and having with us him that pleads above,
 we here present, we here spread forth to thee
 that only offering perfect in thine eyes,
 the one true, pure, immortal sacrifice.
 
 Look, Father, look on his anointed face,
 and only look on us as found in him;
 look not on our misusings of thy grace,
 our prayer so languid, and our faith so dim:
 for lo, between our sins and their reward
 we set the passion of thy Son our Lord.
 
 And then for those, our dearest and our best,
 by this prevailing presence we appeal:
 O fold them closer to thy mercy's breast,
 O do thine utmost for their souls' true weal;
 from tainting mischief keep them white and clear,
 and crown thy gifts with strength to persevere.
 
 And so we come: O draw us to thy feet,
 most patient Saviour, who canst love us still;
 and by this food, so awful and so sweet,
 deliver us from every touch of ill:
 in thine own service make us glad and free,
 and grant us never more to part with thee.
  
 William Bright (1824-1901) 


Tuesday 23 March 2021


Through and through

Read

They failed to understand that he was talking to them about the Father. So Jesus said: ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of myself: what the Father has taught me is what I preach; he who sent me is with me, and has not left me to myself, for I always do what pleases him.’ As he was saying this, many came to believe in him.

From JOHN 8:21-30

Reflect

‘You either love it or hate it’ is a phrase associated with a certain yeast extract product! So divisive is people’s opinion of Marmite that the brand has used it as an advertising slogan and campaign. They’re not trying to win everyone over to the taste. They play on the ‘some love it, some hate it’ accepting that it’s not to everyone’s taste! They’re not trying to please everyone.

Perhaps many of us are a little bit ‘Marmite’ at times. We may not be able to please everyone but then, perhaps, we shouldn’t try. Other people’s expectations of us may be rather unrealistic or their opinion of us a little scant or superficial, or we may try measuring up to others with little success and much frustration. We are who we are. That’s not to say that we can never improve or that we can’t be or do better or be more kind, more committed to Christ, more prayerful, more outgoing in going out to help other.

“I do nothing of myself,” said Jesus, “what the Father has taught me is what I preach; he who sent me is with me, and has not left me to myself, for I always do what pleases him.’ If we’re out to please anyone it must be, like Christ, to please God. After all, even in trying to please God we may not receive the approval of others – Jesus shows us that. Whilst we can and do listen to other people’s opinions of ourselves and can and should reflect on who we are, it is God, not others, who knows us through and through.

Pray

God our Father, help us like Christ to live for you, to do what pleases you, and to put into action all we have heard from him. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 29: Our whole life would become prayer


In a city that grows fast, grows up, grows out, spare land is quickly snatched up. Buildings come and go to make way for more structures, bigger, brighter, brasher.  The built landscape changes shape, pushed and bucked by trends and new ideas, anticipating the future, sometimes succeeding, sometimes falling short.

One can look at a spare plot of land and see its potential in different ways.  A developer or architect may look at it and see a place on which to build, higher and higher, blocks of steel and concrete, feeding commerce.  A gardener or environmentalist may see an unused patch and imagine it is a place for nature or growing food. Or maybe someone who works each day in the city sees the potential for a tranquil park, an oasis of peace amid the demands and business of their day.  Often, financial profit and commerce win the day.  What’s important to us, for others? How do we see the land that lies around us? How do we see the world in which we live, and the communities of which we are a part?

“If only we knew how to look at life as God sees it,” wrote Michel Quoist, “we should realise that nothing is secular in the world… to have faith is not only to raise one’s eyes to God to contemplate him; it is also to look at this world – but with Christ’s eyes.”

“The world would no longer be an obstacle, it would be a perpetual incentive to work for the Father in order that, in Christ, his kingdom might come on earth as in heaven.”

“If only we knew how to look at life as God sees it, we should realise that nothing is secular in the world…

Michel Quoist

The Eucharist is the source and the summit of the Christian Life, the most important act of public worship.  Within many churches of the Anglican Communion much has occurred within the last 100 years to give the Eucharist its central place, and it was something that the late nineteenth century priests of St Mary’s contributed to the life of the Church.

And yet, “the aim must be to extend the action and meaning of the Eucharist out from the centre to the furthest edges of life, so that the whole of life is conformed to the living Lord who gives himself to us at the altar,” wrote the Anglican priest and theologian, John Macquarrie.

Hymn of the Universe

In one of his beautiful meditations in the ‘Hymn of the Universe’, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, recalls a conversation with a friend who experienced “a very strange impression” as he knelt before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance.

“I had the impression as I gazed at the host that its surface was gradually spreading out like a spot of oil but of course much more swiftly and luminously.”

“The flow of whiteness enveloped me, passed beyond me, overran everything…through the mysterious expansion of the host, the whole world had become incandescent, had itself become like a single giant host.”

“The immense host, having given life to everything and purified everything, was now slowly contracting, and the treasures it was drawing into itself were joyously pressed close together within its living light.”

The grandeur of God

“The world is filled with the grandeur of God,” wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins.  And yet “all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; | And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil Is bare now.”  But then continues : And for all this, nature is never spent… Because the Holy Ghost over the bent | World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

Yes, God does make himself known in the things he has made (see Romans 1:20) but he also makes himself known in even more precise and distinct ways, something we see in a glorious way in the Incarnation, in the person of Jesus Christ, and who himself took bread and wine, and gave them us as his body and blood, a sacred means to share in his presence.

“If there were no particular place where one might find Christ present,” says John Macquarrie, “I do not think he would be present anywhere.” The Eucharist is at the heart of the consecration of our lives, the consecration of the matter and material of our lives, and so then of the consecration of the world and the universe.

“If there were no particular place where one might find Christ present, I do not think he would be present anywhere.”

John Macquarrie

The Eucharist is part of the transformative purposes of God, so that the whole world, filled with the grandeur of God, may be “conformed to the Living Lord who gives himself to us in the altar.”

“If we knew how to listen to God, if we knew how to look around us,” said Michel Quoist, “our whole life would become prayer.”