Pastoral Letter - 27th August
I know that some of you may think I may have lost what few priestly marbles I might have, but may I ask you to forget for a moment about the concept of God, with all its associated images and ideas. I want you instead to come back with me millions, billions, trillions, quillions of years and look at the great, vast nothingness before there was a universe, a solar system, anything. Just nothingness, emptiness, silence.
Then I want you to sense that initial spark that generated life, that first fragment of form which "was." Then to be aware of the energy that was present, an energy which grew and explored and became and developed and evolved and multiplied and spread. This energy held everything together so that all worked as one. It developed colour, texture, form, individuality, diversity, complementarity. That energy was in everything and was everything. Everything came into being because of that energy, and it is about that energy that I wish to write to you now.
Perhaps like you, I can recall as a child knocking two flints together and after a few failed efforts, a spark was born. That spark then set fire to some paper, that paper set light to more paper and then twigs, branches, logs, then coals on a fire. All came into being before our eyes from such a small beginning. Warmth, light, changed the landscape, the moment, the experience.
It is that spark, that energy, that light, that warmth which came into being when those three components we call the Holy Trinity collided in creative harmony, which resulted in life as we know it, in all its wonder and wideness.
As I say, set aside your churchy notions of God and just sense this energy, this life force, that caused all to be in the experiment and experience of living; this attempt at sharing the experience of "being." The freedom which was necessary for life to form and to thrive had a shadow side as we know, and again there is a churchy word for it, but essentially it was to do with being anti-life, anti-that which is essential, and intrinsic, to life.
In the same way in which darkness is the opposite of light, so was this force opposite to life and still this force seeks to drain us of life and sometimes in our conscious choices we collude with this presence which is anti-life. But life, at its most essential, deep down we instinctively know, is sacred, special, something which should be respected, reverenced, revered. We are vividly reminded of it when we see young life, in an infant, a puppy, a kitten, a chick, a duckling or a bud on a branch. Something deep within us recognizes the wonder of new life and an awe and a softness comes upon us unawares.
We know, at a level deeper and more profound than our conscious minds, that the energy which created life, is intrinsically good and that growing sense within us of the gift, the wonder, the privilege, the fragility, the goodness of life, we then gave a name to. Human beings, the now dominant life form in our world at least, cannot be nourished or sustained, without the complementarity of creation. Then, extraordinarily, part of that creative energy which caused us to be, became one of us to show by example how to live, how to align ourselves with the energy and essence of life at its purest and most potently enlivening. His name was Jesus and He came that we may know life and know it abundantly. (John Ch. 10 v. 10) This man also spoke about something we call prayer, and again perhaps our preconceptions rob the word of its essential meaning, coming as it does with expectations we feel unequal to adequately experiencing or expressing. The activity which is called prayer is simply when we tune in to the creative energy which is at the heart of the life force from which we come. This is what He, Jesus, did and we can see the result of His so doing. He allowed His humanity to be in harmony with that life force and that gave Him the power, the energy, the capacity to heal those broken of body or spirit and to teach in a way that revealed truth which set people free. Ultimately of course, His living in tune, in harmony, in alignment with the source of all life allowed Him to rise from the dead and it is precisely this creative energy at the very heart of the gift of life that I would ask you to consider.
I would invite you to contemplate with me the relationship at the heart of the life force, the energy field which caused us to be. Three components working in creative harmony which effectively shared the experience of living with forms beyond themselves. Henceforth they are inevitably part of who we are, we are part of who they are. That is why we worship, that is what worship is, finding our way back into living in creative harmony with our Creator, freeing our minds from falsehoods, knowing the truth which will set us free, being released from the dark impulses which persuade us to choose self rather than community, thus separating us from the complementarity at the heart of all that is. In worshipping in this way we are invited to eat, drink, be nourished, refreshed, become one with each other, the rest of creation and with our Creator in the sustaining act we call Eucharist.
This is one of the reasons I find it difficult to open my mind and my imagination to the contemplation of these things last thing at night for, while reassuring and comforting, they are also too stimulating for me to bear before the repose of sleep. To consider these things awakens me, makes me feel more alert and alive. It is to feel the creative energy surging through one`s body, mind and spirit. Better by far to think of these things early in the morning!
But that is why you and I need to spend time opening ourselves, offering ourselves, to the communion we need to have, not because we are necessarily religious, but because we are human and alive. As created beings, we need to feed from the presence and power of our Creator, there to be refreshed and renewed. That`s where we find our resources for living, for loving, for confronting the things which are anti-life and thence be able to make a constructive difference to the world, as we see wonderfully exampled in the life of Jesus, Son of Man.
In this, I believe my 88th Pastoral Letter since March of last year and possibly the penultimate one, for the time being at least, I wish I could more adequately convey to you the energy I seek to celebrate, the energy which exists in the frisson between who has been revealed to us in the Christian community as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose image we have been created. I wish I could express more vividly the energy we can encounter when we turn our minds and open our hearts in what we tend to call the enterprise of prayer. Prayer: when the depths of ourselves reach out to the depths of our Creator and when the depths of our Creator reaches out to the truth of who were are. It is the most extraordinarily life enhancing thing which we can ever know.
You and I are invited on an adventure of discovery and an ever deepening relationship with the source of our existence. Jesus admits us to it, the Holy Spirit energises us for it and the Father draws us into it. What is required of us is simply that we believe in it and entrust ourselves to it, for there we will find riches, belonging, identity, purpose, meaning, wonder, truth, reassurance and what we mean by light and life and love.
May we all continue to experience the energy of which I speak in a way which empowers and equips us for all that lays ahead beyond the experience of the Covid Pandemic, Social Distancing and Lockdown, in the recovery of people`s lives and the rebuilding of the communities of which we are part, for we are in great need of it and cannot do these things in our own strength alone.
With blessings and best wishes,
ZOOM AND MORE
As you may have heard me say in church and at the last few Zoom services, this coming Sunday, 29th August, will be our last Zoom service at 9.30am. From 5th September we will be holding the 9.30am service in church and our Zoom service will be celebrated at 5pm. I hope you will join us for one of these worshipping experiences. You can join us this Sunday for our ZOOM SERVICE at 9.30am by clicking on the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85685339742 or in person in church at 6pm for our final 6pm Eucharist. You can also join us for Private Prayer in the church 10am-11am on Wednesdays 1st and 8th September. From 15th September the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 10am. The reading this Sunday is: John Chapter 20 verses 1-18. The Collect: Almighty God Who called your Church to bear witness That you were in Christ reconciling the world to yourself: Help us to proclaim the good news of your love, That all who hear it may be drawn to you; This we ask and pray through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with you, In the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. AMEN.