After sharing a number of prayers and meditations a few days ago – which a number of people found helpful – I add today a few more, as well as a couple of longer reflections. There is also a brief reflection on ‘reading’ our diocesan Rule of Life in this current context.
I also include (near the end) a few references to ‘online’ church services which will be taking place in the Diocese in Europe this coming Sunday. Perhaps our unique situation in the Diocese in Europe means that we are better prepared than some others to develop and offer worship in this ‘new’ way. I am sure that there are many other churches in the Diocese which are offering online worship – and if you tell me about them I will gladly include them in the next ‘edition’ of this blog which will come out early next week.
Clare Amos, Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship
First a prayer by Revd Barbara Glasson, the current President of the Methodist Conference of Britain, who, when she is not being ‘President’, is leader of the ‘Touchstone’ Centre in Bradford. It has been my privilege to get to know Barbara through our shared commitment to interreligious engagement:
For the Christian community
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
(Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference)
St Patrick’s Day, March 17, fell during the last week. It was a St Patrick’s Day with a difference – without the usual parades and celebrations. But the lines from the great hymn, St Patrick’s Breastplate, seem more relevant than ever:
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside be,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger
Next a beautiful poem reflection that has been widely shared – originally published on Facebook on March 11, by Lynn Ungar a minister in California:
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live. (Lynn Ungar, Permission applied for)
The Anglican chaplain at All Saints Marseilles, Revd James Johnston, sent me this poem, written (a week ago!) by a Franciscan friar who is a friend of his: (I would be very grateful if someone can tell me how to get rid on the additional line spaces on WordPress!)
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
(Father Richard Hendrick, OFM)
Among the collection of prayers I included in my last blog, the meditation by St Francois de Sales seemed to have struck a particular chord with many. So I include another, briefer, reflection by this most humane of saints who is near to my own heart, not least because of his Haute-Savoie connection:
One form of gentleness we should practice is towards ourselves… When your heart has fallen raise it softly… Obey your doctor, take your medicine and food… desire to recover to serve God and one another. (Francois de Sales)
In the last few months, I have been working with others in the diocese to ‘roll out’ a Rule of Life, which was developed at the request of our Bishop Robert, our diocesan bishop. In its basic, most fundamental form, it is very short and simply suggests that a Rule of Life for Christians in our diocese should encourage us in these four ways:
* Knowing God
* Growing in Christ
* Living Beyond Ourselves
It is ‘strange’ (or perhaps providential) how relevant these themes are to the questions we, as individuals and churches, need to address ourselves with in these difficult days, questions such as:
* How can the forced (at least partial) isolation for many of us in this wilderness season of Lent encourage us to deepen our knowledge of God?
* Does our present experience enable us to ‘grow in Christ’ by enabling us to tread a bit more deeply along the way of the cross?
* What does it mean for us to build community with our fellow Christians in these days, in which physical meeting is much more difficult and most services of corporate worship are forbidden?
* And does this virus teach us something about ‘living beyond ourselves’ in contexts in which we are being asked to modify our behaviour not simply (or perhaps even mainly) for our own sakes, but for the sake of the wider community and our fellow citizens?
It has been a privilege to work with colleagues and friends at Holy Trinity Church Geneva over the last few days to prepare worship which will happen by ‘Zoom’ this coming Sunday (see below for details as to how to connect if you want to). The coming Sunday is of course Mothering Sunday – and our thoughts are turning to Mary as mother of Jesus. There is a powerful statue of Mary called ‘the Walking Madonna’ in the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral (see below). This is part of the sermon which will be ‘preached’ on Sunday, which takes that statue as its starting point:
‘… Our Gospel readings have shown us Mary in the Temple; and Mary at the Cross; but perhaps there is a third Mary, elusive but real. That is the Mary who ponders. Who thinks things out in the quiet of her heart. Both Clare and I (Alan Amos) love the statue, “the Walking Madonna” by Elizabeth Frink which stands outside Salisbury Cathedral. I say “stands” but it really feels like a statue in motion, if that is possible. Mary strides away from the Cathedral, wrapped in her own thoughts. Perhaps she has had enough of “churchiness” and is setting her feet towards the market place, towards our common humanity; or perhaps she carries with her the spirit of worship from the holy place that stands behind her. But for us, now, I think she is revealed as “the self-isolating Mother of God.” She comes to us in this time of the virus, with her message, “learn from me to be yourself in God’s presence; then you will come to know, like me, how to be by yourself.” For the Mary described by Luke – who according to Orthodox tradition was the first to paint an icon of Mary – is one who knows how to be alone, and to ponder:
* but Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2.19)
* But his mother kept all these sayings in her heart (Luke 2.51).
In her aloneness – it seems that Joseph left her a widow at an early age – she did not diminish, but grew in faith, hope and love, showing us the way; the way to see and to endure.’
Some links to digital worship in the Diocese in Europe and Episcopal Convocation
(Please do let me know of other churches and contacts)
Holy Trinity Geneva – worship by ‘Zoom’ on Sunday 22 March at 10.30. Access by
Revd Louis Darrant, Costa Azahar, is offering morning and evening prayer online each day – access via his facebook page ‘Louis Darrant’.
All Saints Rome, will be offering an online service on Sunday 22 March available via https://bobsprospect.blogspot.com/2020/03/mass-in-tin-from-all-saints-anglican.html#more
St Michael’s Paris will be offering online worship by Zoom this Sunday. More details available at https://www.saintmichaelsparis.org/
Emmanuel Church Geneva is live-streaming both Sunday and weekday services. Go to www.emmanaelchurch.ch for details of how to connect.
St Paul’s Within the Walls, Episcopal Church Rome is live-streaming Sunday worship. Details via https://www.stpaulsrome.it/blog-post/st-pauls-goes-live/
8 thoughts on “Discipleship in Difficult Days 2”
Thank you Claire for your wonderful comments. They are extremely helpful and I am sure a lot of people are very grateful. All Saints, Hérault is sending out an online service for Sunday 22nd available on
I think we need to find some way how this could become available not just to our congregation but more widely. It is at the moment only available, it seems for those who receive an email about it. Perhaps we need advice on how to make this more widely avaiable.
Thank you Julie… and it is good to hear about your Sunday service in Herault.
“And, in turn, we who are elderly should, I believe, respond with compassionate and considered restraint – not, for example, demanding ventilators or, eventually, vaccines, that are in short supply, but asking for them to be given first to the young. Covid-19, unwelcome though it is, has much to teach us all about virtuous living and perhaps it reminds us of the importance of mature wisdom.”
No, this is a step backwards. There is such a thing as “Equal Rights”. The elderly do not have to sacrifice themselves. Many of them have already paid for the young to be trained in a new profession or paid again for them to unfortunately remain in unemployment.
Please don’t teach this kind of thing. The elderly should be honoured, not politely persuaded or taught to give up their lives. They have a place in life too. Otherwise it’s age discrimination, not nobleness of heart.
Hazel – I am not sure why your comment appeared to be linked to edition ‘2’ of this blog. I think it relates to a comment made by Canon Robin Gill in blog 14 or 15.
Yes it is. Perhaps you can put in there for me.
I am afraid I don’t know how to do that.
Forget it. I have posted this somewhere else where people are already giving their opinions. What a shame you couldn’t find someone who could help you. Unless perhaps your husband knows?????
I know far more about IT and computer programmes than my husband does – I can assure you! I think that the fact that I ‘accepted’ your original comment here means that it now very difficult to remove.