Holy Saturday

55595069-64DC-4F98-AD66-AC23835BB778Today is all about living with not knowing. Living with enforced stillness. Wondering how things can have gone so differently to the way we expected. A time of shock, even before grief sets in.

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • All who are grieving.
  • All who struggle with stillness.
  • All who are perplexed by the paths their lives have taken.
  • All who wonder whether there is any hope left.

St Columba – 20th March

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This reflection and icon come from  Mull Monastery.

For a few centuries during the first millennium, St Columba’s Monastery on Iona was not only the heart of the Christian Church in Scotland, but also a major centre of art and culture. Iona’s cultural influence extended far beyond the Celtic Isles through the beauty of the illuminated manuscripts written by the monks on Iona. The Book of Kells itself, one of the greatest treasures from that time which is still in existence today, was painted in St Columba’s Monastery.

The Saint himself copied texts and created many manuscripts throughout his entire life. In fact, the very reason for his presence on Iona had something to do with such a manuscript. In his youth, St Columba was involved in a dispute over the rights to keep a manuscript he had copied from an original that belonged to St Finnian. This dispute escalated into a real battle, which led to the death of several people. As punishment, St Columba was exiled from Ireland, which is why he sailed North, to the Scottish Isles. Tradition tells us that his remorse was so great that he purposely kept sailing until he reached an island from where, looking back, he could no longer see his home country. This island was Iona.

This is how we arrived to the idea behind this commission: St Columba working on an illuminated manuscript. However, the really interesting aspect to me was the personal one. As he grew older, as he sat in his cell on the tiny hill close to the monastery church, copying some text or another, was that remorse still with him? Did that terrible fall in his youth still cloud his soul?

These are the thoughts that we hoped to show in the gaze of this humble, old monk. Because these are questions that affect all of us, and we all must – sooner or later – face this anguish. How does one relate to past sins? How does one face old age still carrying the weight of a fallen nature? How does one look forward to the Resurrection while also looking back to one’s past sinfulness?

We started from the intellectual idea of an icon depicting St Columba working on a manuscript. Prayer took us to the end of this journey, where we discovered that what was given to us was, in fact, something much deeper: as icon of repentance. This holy old monk contemplating the sinfulness of his youth is endlessly more relevant to our life than the historical reality of the depicted scene. The spiritual struggle of one’s inner life remains relevant regardless of age. Through this commission, St Columba revealed himself as a teacher of repentance, one who can lead us into old age and help us bring our repentance before Christ in a way that leads to our salvation, not to despair or abandonment.

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • all who are haunted by sins or faults from years ago.
  • all whose work is careful and painstaking.
  • all who find Iona a thin place.
  • all who are wary of resurrection this Passiontide.

St Benedict of Sept Fonts aka St Benedict Joseph Labre.

St Benedict appears a puzzle to the catholic community in which he is venerated. The orthodox would, I believe, recognise his charisma as a Fool for Christ.

Follow the link to a well written and thought provoking reflection on his life and ours.

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https://livingchurch.org/covenant/2015/03/11/no-thought-for-the-morrow-the-extravagance-of-christian-perfection/

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • All who are homeless.
  • All who do not know where their next meal will come from.
  • All pilgrims.
  • All whose health prevents them following their first calling.
  • All whom the world perceives as failures.
  • All who see themselves as failures.
  • All who are thought to waste their lives on God.

Baldred, Apostle of the Lothians – 6th March

Saint Baldred is sometimes known as “the Apostle of the Lothians”.

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He was a monk at the monastery at Lindisfarne. At some point in the first half of the 700s he established a monastery at Tyninghame which owned large estates covering much of the coastal plain of East Lothian.

St Baldred himself undertook frequent retreats to a hermitage and chapel he had built for himself on Bass Rock.

Echoes of St Baldred occur throughout the area of East Lothian in which he lived and worked. St Baldred’s monastery at Tyninghame was destroyed by the Danes in 941 and the following century the remains of St Baldred were moved to Durham. However, in the 1100s St Baldred’s Church was built on the location of the monastery and this still stands today in the grounds of Tyninghame House.

From the 1300s miracles began to be reported by people drinking at St Baldred’s Well, at Whitekirk. This quickly became a major centre for pilgrimage. In 1413 someone took the trouble to count 15,563 pilgrims visiting St Baldred’s Well, to the considerable benefit of the church established there.

A Papal Bull of 1493 records the Pope’s consent to build a chapel on the site of St Baldred’s own chapel on Bass Rock. This is overlooked by the beautiful beach at Seacliff. St Baldred’s Cave, where he is said to have lived from time to time.

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • All whose stories have grown after their deaths.
  • All who live quiet lives devoted to prayer.
  • All who find caves and wells thin places.
  • The people of the Lothians.
  • The Community at Lindisfarne.

The grateful Aspie

Another, in my Nick King inspired series. This time, after Luke 17.11-16:

On the way to Inchcolm Abbey, a nun was walking through the region between Glasgow and Edinburgh. She was filled with the Spirit of God, giving thanks that she might serve as part of Jesus’ body on earth. As she entered a village, ten people wracked with anxiety and despair approached seeking prayers for healing. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Pray Jesus, your Master, to have mercy on us!’ When she saw them, she said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to your priests.’ And as they went, they were made calm.

Then one of them, an Aspie, feeling the calmness seeping into all the extremities of his body, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He lay down at the Nun’s feet and thanked Jesus for taking away his anxiety, his shame about needing the help of a carer and the overwhelming pressure to be independent.

He was thrilled with gratitude for the knowledge that we are all made to be interdependent and that he has an important role to play in drawing God’s people together.

Then the Nun asked, ‘Were not ten people made calm? Where are the other nine? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this one man?’ Then she said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith and God’s love have made you well.’

 

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • All who are wracked with anxiety.
  • All who seek healing.
  • All who do not recognise healing when it is given to them.
  • All who are grateful for their own sense of purpose or vocation.

The Alert Autiste – 20th February.

Today, I am going slightly off piste, inspired by Nick King’s approach to Samaritans when seeking an answer to the question, ‘Who is my neighbour?’. I heard him speak last night and have been writing a series of Bible Story re-tellings. I hope this one might speak into and out of the Astonishing Community. I live and work in the Lothians of Scotland, so I have set my stories in places familiar to me, yet appropriate to the story.

The Alert Autiste, after John 4.

Jesus had to travel home through Gorebridge. He came to Vogrie park and was tired out by his journey, so he sat by the adventure playground to rest. It was about noon.

A teenage boy came to climb, wearing a nappy and hooting loudly. Jesus said to him, ‘Give me a drink’. The boy glanced at Jesus, laughed and continued to climb. Once sat on top of the climbing frame, the boy looked at Jesus for longer. Jesus repeated, ‘Give me a drink’, this time miming bringing a cup to his lips. The boy copied the gesture and looked all around him, but he didn’t have a drink with him. So the boy made the gesture again, then he put his fingers on his chin, bringing them in arc to his knees.

‘Good signing!’, the voice came from behind Jesus, it was the boy’s carer. He said, our boy here doesn’t speak, he’s canny though. Now he’s asking you for a drink.’

Jesus smiled, ‘Exactly as he should,’ he signalled to the boy to come, ‘I’ll give him living water.’ The carer said to him, ‘Sir, you have no water bottle, and the shop is shut. Where are you going to get that living water? It’s not nice to tease him.’

The boy was now by Jesus’ side, enthusiastically signing, ‘please’. Jesus lay his hand in blessing on the boy’s head and said, you will never be thirsty again.

The boy stood staring deeply into Jesus, then he started to search in Jesus’ pockets. He found a crumb of bread and a small bottle with a drop of wine remaining in it. He smiled handed them to Jesus and put out his hands.

Jesus offered them to him, as a priest might offer communion at an altar rail. The boy stood up, roared with laughing, kissed Jesus’ cheek and ran off. He returned with visitor after visitor to the park in tow. Dragging each and showing them how to kneel before Jesus. Each one spoke to Jesus, trying to understand what had just happened to them. Had they been attacked? Why did the boy want them here? Those who listened received communion too, offering the bread they had brought for the ducks and wine hidden in brown paper bags.

Many people in Vogrie Park believed in Jesus because of the boy’s actions. So when the carers came to him, they asked Jesus to stay with them at their home; and he stayed there for two days.

FOR REFLECTION

In what ways do you feel challenged by this story?

Does this story ring true to the spirit of the gospel?

What questions does it raise in you?

 

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • All who are weary from travelling.
  • All who live in this world without words.
  • All whose lives are given to caring for others.
  • All who notice details others might miss.
  • All who have infectious enthusiasm.
  • All who are willing to be led by the most vulnerable.

Ash Wednesday-14th February

Let us turn in heart and mind, in will and expectancy, to God…

Let us recognise Love in every human being, above all in Jesus, revealing in flesh and blood, in word and deed, the heart of God…

Let our attention, our questions, our living, all be focused on the God whose love is utterly truthful, shimmeringly joyous, profoundly pain-transforming and life-enhancing; embracing all that would cause harm, never letting go, pressing gently and for as long as need be into all that refuses to respond, never ultimately excluding, banishing, or destroying that which is still being created. Amen.

With these deeply consoling words from Jim Cotter, and our gaze fixed on God, let us enter into the wide and spacious wilderness of Lent.