Tag Archives: light

29 September: The deep Love in all the World

On a windy night


The night was far advanced. I closed the book with a bang and flung it on the table. Then I blew out the lamp with the idea of turning into bed. No sooner had I done so than, through the open windows, the moonlight burst into the room, with a shock of surprise. That little bit of a lamp had been sneering drily at me, like some Mephistopheles: and that tiniest sneer had screened off this infinite light of joy issuing forth from the deep love which is in all the world.

What, forsooth, had I been looking for in the empty wordiness of the book? There was the very thing itself, filling the skies, silently waiting for me outside, all these hours! If I had gone off to bed leaving the shutters closed, and thus missed this vision, it would have stayed there all the same without any protest against the mocking lamp inside.

Even if I had remained blind to it all my life,—letting the lamp triumph to the end,—till for the last time I went darkling to bed,—even then the moon would have still been there, sweetly smiling, unperturbed and unobtrusive, waiting for me as she has throughout the ages.

From Glimpses of Bengal Selected from the Letters of Sir Rabindranath Tagore

And we conceal the stars and dim the moon with our wasteful lighting of homes, workplaces and streets. Once again Tagore’s reflections chime in with my Christian sensibilities. I was first introduced to him by my mother, who heard of him from a Cistercian monk.

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28 June: In Vinculis

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was an English poet who was imprisoned for taking part in independence meetings and demonstrations in Ireland. This poem was praised by the Irish critic, Oscar Wilde. In Vinculis means ‘in chains’ as both Peter and Paul were, more than once. Their joint feast falls tomorrow. Let us pray for all prisoners, that in the Lord’s light their spirits may see light, in this world and the next.


Naked I came into the world of pleasure,
   And naked come I to this house of pain.
Here at the gate I lay down my life’s treasure,
   My pride, my garments and my name with men.
   The world and I henceforth shall be as twain,
No sound of me shall pierce for good or ill
   These walls of grief.  Nor shall I hear the vain
Laughter and tears of those who love me still.

Within, what new life waits me!  Little ease,
   Cold lying, hunger, nights of wakefulness,
Harsh orders given, no voice to soothe or please,
   Poor thieves for friends, for books rules meaningless;
This is the grave—nay, hell.  Yet, Lord of Might,
Still in Thy light my spirit shall see light.”

(from “A Critic in Pall Mall Being Extracts from Reviews and Miscellanies” by Oscar Wilde, E. V. (Edward Verrall) Lucas)

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4 June: Make your home in me.

Some years again when reflecting the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, I imagined, in my prayer,
that I was Zacchaeus in the tree and Jesus stood looking up at me and saying to me “I want to stay at
your house”. My reply to him was “I have no home”.

It is true that as a priest I have moved from presbytery to presbytery, from place to place. The last place I called home was when I lived with my Mum and Dad and brothers and sister in Clapham, before I went away to school. I was part of a family. I had a sense of belonging.

Many people in life move many times, because of their job or perhaps they have traveller blood in them and are always on the move.

‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.” The loving Father, Jesus our brother and the Advocate, the Spirit desires to
make their home with us. They wish to abide or live in us. Home is a relationship of love. Am I willing
and ready to welcome God into my home, that is into my heart.? Am I prepared to allow God to live or
abide in me?

We are very familiar with the Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of the World.” A copy can be seen in St. Paul’s Cathedral. It shows the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with Me”. The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside. Jesus might be persistent in his knocking at the door of our heart but will come in when invited. We need to open the door.
Before he returned to the Father, Jesus promised that the disciples would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. This is an ideal time to invite the Father, Son and Spirit into us so that they make a home in us.

You could pray this prayer of St Augustine to the Holy Spirit.


Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may be holy.

From Canon Anthony Charlton, St Thomas’, Canterbury.

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Easter in Lichfield: a message from the Dean

Easter in Lichfield will be a time of celebration in more ways than one this year, because after two years of uncertainty Lichfield Cathedral can now open back up and mark the occasion with a blend of ceremony that will involve, not only the cathedral, but everyone in the city.

This is the introduction to Dean Adrian’s Holy Week Message from Lichfield Cathedral. See the whole message here. It is a very clear account of the events and ceremonies of the Triduum.

Dear Friends,

I am writing to send you greetings and blessings at this the most important, solemn and (yet ultimately) joyful time of the Christian year.  We’re about to enter the holy three days (Triduum) of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve and Day. You will be welcome at any or all of the special services we hold on each of these days.  Every occasion comes with its special ceremonies and distinct focus.  Let me say a few words about each but first explain the context.

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25 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day VIII.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

Day 8 “They left for their own country by another road”

Readings

Psalm 16 – You show me the path of life.

Matthew 11:25-30 – Because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent, and have revealed them to infants.

Reflection

We do not know what the wise men thought – they who were experts in astronomy and navigation – when they were warned to return by another road. They may well have been very confused, but the same light that illumined their journey showed them that there was another road, another possibility. They were called to change direction.

We often find ourselves bound by our familiar ways of doing things and of seeing the world. When these ways or ‘roads’ are closed, we wonder how to proceed and continue the journey. We have to trust that the everlasting One who gave us the light, can always find a way forward when our ways and paths are blocked. A fresh start is always possible when we are willing and open to the work of the Spirit.

As churches we look to the past and find illumination, and we look to the future in search of new ways so that we can continue to shine the light of the Gospel as we journey by another way, together.

Prayer 
Gracious God,
when we only know one way and we think we must return to it,
when we think that all roads are blocked, and we fall into despair,
we always find you there, creating a new unexpected path before us.
If we search our maps and find no route,
nonetheless we always find you, who lead us by a yet more excellent way,
trusting that you will always lead us back to you
and forward in unity together. Amen.
Meditative Response
Journeying on parallel paths or often in opposite directions
We are called by ‘another way’
to become pilgrim companions,the people of The Way.
Compasses and maps orientated
route finding and navigating together
our backpacks not burdensome, our boots crunching on,
rediscovering ancient paths,
walking humbly together with our God.

Questions

Global: What other ways of journeying together could we explore that would lead us into a better future?

Local: What do we take for granted about our daily rhythms? What blessing might someone of another tradition receive from the worship in your church? How might the worship of your church be perceived by someone of another tradition?

Personal: How does it feel when your familiar ways or traditions are challenged?

Go and Do

(see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)

Global: Find out how communities from all over the world joined in pilgrimage for climate justice in 2021. Plan as churches together to continue the journey to a better future for the planet and for us all. Find out more at christianaid.org.uk/campaigns

Local: Organise a local pilgrimage between the churches in your area, for example, you could walk to each of the church buildings or find your nearest pilgrim route.

Personal: Journey familiar routes by another way, for example walk 50% more slowly on your errands today, what do you notice? How do you see things differently?

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Pray for Unity, Pray for the Synod 


 
For the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Kurt Koch invite all Christians to pray for unity and to continue to journey together.
 
In a joint letter sent on 28 October 2021 to all bishops responsible for ecumenism, Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of the Bishops, wrote: “Both synodality and ecumenism are processes of walking together.”
 
The 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Mt 2: 2) prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches, offers an occasion to pray with all Christians that the Synod will proceed in an ecumenical spirit.
 
Both Cardinals affirm “Like the Magi, Christians too journey together guided by the same heavenly light and encountering the same worldly darkness. They too are called to worship Jesus together and open their treasures. Conscious of our need for the accompaniment and the many gifts of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we call on them to journey with us during these two years and we sincerely pray that Christ will lead us closer to Him and so to one another.”
 
The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity are therefore pleased to offer this prayer:
 


Download the press release in PDFEcumenism and synodality For the next newsletter, let us know your initiatives on the theme of “ecumenism and synodality” by sending the material to webmaster@synodresources.org
 
Have a good unity week and a good synodal journey!

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18 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day I.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

‘We Saw His Star in the East’.


In this fragile and uncertain world, we look for light. We look for the good within ourselves, but often we are so overwhelmed by our weakness that hope fails us. Our confidence rests in God, who in wisdom, enables us to hope for his mercy. We are surprised when it comes in human form: Christ is the light in our midst! God’s gift to us is a ‘spirit of power, and love’. We are drawn forward on the way to this perfect light by God’s Holy Spirit, not by relying on our own strength and ability.

In the midst of darkness, the star from the East penetrates the depths of the darkness that separates us from one another. The star’s light continues to shine and to change the face of history. Throughout the ages, by the lives of Christ’s followers, the world has come to know the hope that is inspired by the Holy Spirit.

And the Risen One continues to shine, like a beacon guiding all into this perfect light and overcoming the darkness which separates us from one another. The desire to overcome the darkness that separates us compels us to pray and work for Christian unity.


Prayer

Creator of light,

illumine our path by the light of Christ 
who moves before us and leads us.
May he be a beacon for our pilgrimage.
Enlighten us and dwell within us.
Raise us up and draw us to your perfect light.
Guide us to discover a manger in our hearts 
where a great light still shines.
We thank you for the gift of that unfading Star, 
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Heal our divisions and draw us together.
AMEN


Readings


Psalm 139:1-10 Your right hand shall hold me fast
2 Timothy 1:7-10 This grace… has now been revealed through the appearing of our
Saviour Christ Jesus



Reflection: Go and do


(see http://www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)
Global: Visit the website of Embrace the Middle East and see what actions you can take to be in solidarity with Christians of the Middle East.
Local: Organise a candle lit vigil with the churches in your area as an act of unity. It doesn’t have to be in person but each church could encourage members to put a candle in their window at an agreed day and time.
Personal: Take time this week to star gaze. Let your eyes settle on an unfading star and pause in reverence and prayer before the Creator of light. You don’t have to go outside you can search for and visit an online planetarium.

Hymn Verse
How brightly beams the Morning Star!
What sudden radiance from afar
Doth glad us with its shining,
Brightness of God that breaks our night
And fills the darken’d souls with light
Who long for truth were pining!
Thy Word, Jesu, only feeds us,
Rightly leads us,
Life bestowing;
Praise, oh praise such love o’erflowing.
Johann Schlegel, tr. Catherine Winkworth

Questions Reflecting on the past year:
Global: What could the role of the Church be in proclaiming the good news of the Gospel in a world where
there is so much injustice?
Local: Where have you seen signs of hope in your community, especially during a time of pandemic?
Personal: How have you sought ‘the light’ in the midst of darkness?

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17 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Introduction III.

Brede Valley.

The Covid-19 global pandemic; the economic crisis that has followed and the failure of political, economic and social structures to protect the weakest and most vulnerable; and the racism that blights our communities have underlined the global need for a light to shine in the darkness. The star that shone in the East, (the Middle East), two thousand years ago still leads us to the manger, to where Christ was born. It draws us to where the Spirit of God is alive and active.

After encountering the Saviour and worshipping him together, the Magi return to their countries by a different way, having been warned in a dream. The communion we share in our prayer together must inspire us to return to ourselves, our churches and our world by new ways. But what does this mean
in practice?

Serving the Gospel today requires a commitment to humankind, especially the poorest, the weakest and those marginalised. It requires from the churches transparency and accountability in dealing with the world, and with each other. This means churches need to cooperate to provide relief to the afflicted, to welcome the displaced, to relieve the burdened, and to build a just and honest society.

This is a call for churches to work together so that we can all build a good future according to God’s heart, a future in which all human beings can experience life, peace, justice, and love.

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16 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022. Introduction, II.

smart

Jerusalem is a powerful symbol for Christians because it is “The City of Peace”, where all humanity was saved and redeemed. But today peace is missing from the city. Even prayer in Jerusalem has become subject to political and military measures. Various parties stake their claim to it and disregard others. Jerusalem was the city of kings, indeed the city that Jesus will enter triumphantly, acclaimed as king (Luke 19:28-44). Naturally the Magi expected to find the newborn king revealed by the star in this royal city.

However, the narrative tells us that, rather than being blessed by the birth of the Saviour king, the whole of
Jerusalem was in tumult, much as it is today. Today, more than ever, the Middle East needs a heavenly light to accompany the people.

In this context Christians are called to seek the new-born king, the king of gentleness, peace and love. But where is the star that leads the way to him? It is the mission of the Church to be the star that lights the way to Christ who is the light of the world. By word and through action the Christian people are called to light the way so that Christ might be revealed, once again, to the nations. Yet divisions dim the light of Christian witness and obscure the way, preventing others from finding their way to Christ. Conversely, Christians united in their worship of Christ, and opening their treasures in an exchange of gifts, become a
sign of the unity that God desires for all of creation.

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15 January, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022: Introduction, I.

Bethlehem, c1850.

The week of prayer for Christian Unity 2022 will last from 18 -25 January. this year the prayers and reflections are led by the Churches of the Middle East. In these three days leading to the Week of Prayer, we offer extracts from the Introduction to this important time.

The story of the Magi visiting the Holy Family in Bethlehem is one very familiar to us. Indeed, we have recently celebrated Christmas; the Feast of Incarnation and Epiphany. The Magi have sometimes been seen as a symbol of the world’s diversity – different religions and cultures – that comes to pay homage to the Christ-child. The story might therefore represent the unity of all created that God desires. The Magi travel from far-off countries, and represent diverse cultures, yet they are driven by the same hunger to see and know the new-born king and are gathered into the little house in Bethlehem in the simple act of giving homage.

In this we can find a metaphor for Christian unity: that is, of different Christian peoples drawn together in their common search to recognise Christ, to know him and to worship him and witnessing to wider need for unity and to overcome injustice.

This text has been chosen by the churches of the Middle East, the history of which was, and still is, characterised by conflict and strife, tainted with blood and darkened by injustice and oppression. Since the Palestinian Nakba (the exodus of Palestine’s Arab population during the 1948 war) the region has seen a series of bloody wars and revolutions and the rise of Islamic extremism. The story of the Magi also contains many dark elements, most particularly Herod’s despotic orders to massacre all the children around Bethlehem who were two years old or under (Matt 2:16-18). The cruelty of these narratives resonates with the long history and difficult present of the Middle East.

It was in the Middle East that the Word of God took root and bore fruit: thirty and sixty and one hundredfold. And it was from this East that the apostles set out to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The Middle East has given thousands of Christian witnesses and thousands of Christian martyrs.

And yet now, the very existence of the small Christian community is threatened as many are driven to seek a more secure and prosperous life elsewhere. Like the light which is the child Jesus, the light of Middle Eastern Christianity is increasingly threatened in these difficult times.

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