Thought for the month
30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, yesterday’s Sunday Worship from Coventry Cathedral included contributions from one of the partners in their Community of the Cross of Nails, the Chapel of Reconciliation in Berlin.
Today’s chapel not only bears the name of its 1894 predecessor but also contains rubble from its walls. The original church had become inaccessible after the building of the Wall, and was later destroyed. Following the reunification of Germany, a new chapel was built on the site.
Thomas Jeutner, the parish priest, said:“The chapel is situated exactly in the former death strip – that means the main part of the wall is over there and the church was really inside the wall, it was actually walled in. We describe it sometimes like an imprisoned person or an imprisoned symbol.
“The community of the cross of the nails worldwide is situated at wounded places … I meet people here telling me their stories of their wounded histories somewhere in the world. This prayer of reconciliation, it links you every time when you read it to the deepest failing humanity, but we do it as a duty every week, we belong to the community.”
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, Father, forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
You can read more about the programme at this link, and also listen to it for the next month
At the St Margaret’s service on 29 September 2019, Rev Dr Michael Paterson shared the reflection from which this is an extract.
Our public life this week has been full of the language of disdain, of traitors, of enemies, of surrender and of capitulation. But have you noticed just how much our service today is full of the language of love, of forgiveness, of belonging, of peace, and of hope for the future?
… I am really worried that Brexit has taken us beyond that to what one writer has coined ‘common enemy intimacy’ … “I don’t know you … but I’m glad that you hate the same people I hate, and I’m glad you hate the same things I hate.”
… that’s why I think what we doing here together this morning Is absolutely radical, absolutely outrageous, and absolutely revolutionary. Because, when the world’s story pushes us to call people enemies, what could be more radical than God’s story? …
And, at a time when the world encourages us to view others as traitors, capitulators, and zombies, what could be more outrageous than God’s call to leave the comfort of our seats to wish each other peace, irrespective of whether we voted leave or remain?
… at this crisis point in our history, I think that we who call ourselves Christians need to come together more than ever to do three things: to sing, shake and share.
Because there’s nothing like singing to remind us of the power of our belonging together. There’s nothing like reaching out to people who are not a bit like us to wish them peace, real peace, deep peace, to remind us that we don’t have to fuel divisions but that we can heal them.
And there’s nothing like kneeling at the communion rail with people we would never spend time with the rest of the week, to remind us that, when push comes to shove, we all hunger and thirst for a fuller and better life, not just for ourselves, but for each other and for our world.
So, while the world repeats history, and tries to drag us into war, let’s tell a better story and let’s go on singing, let’s go on shaking and let’s go on sharing.
Read the whole of Michael’s sermon at this link.
At our joint Harvest communion on 22 September 2019, our Gospel reading was Luke 16:1–13 – The parable of the dishonest manager – and Rev Liz Crumlish shared the reflection from which these are extracts.
With this parable today, we are invited, not to gloss over it because it seems difficult, but to engage with it and discover how it might speak into our lives and into the life of the world we inhabit. Never, in any of Jesus’ parables, are we allowed to be bystanders …
This is a parable in which we are implicated as we wrestle with all of our socio-economic, our political and our ethnic divisions. So let’s, just for a moment, consider three of those divisions with which we wrestle today – let’s talk about Brexit, let’s talk about austerity measures, and let’s talk about climate change.
… the truth is that we’re not simply dealing with the economies of today, but with the deficits of the future, the things that, by the way we live and the choices we make, we are denying those who follow us into the future.
So what can we do? We who claim to live by a different rhythm, we who are influenced by a totally different set of economics, the economy of the Kingdom of God. How can we follow Jesus, modelling relationships that are compassionate, that are restorative and that are creative?
… it is by waking up to crisis, like the dishonest manager, that we will find creative ways not to save the church, not even to save ourselves, but to listen and learn from those outside our normal circles … to listen and learn how we might survive the crises that assail us – and not just survive but flourish, making it possible for all of creation to know and to share in the abundance that God promises and longs for us to know …
We are invited, with the God of the harvest, to wake up to the crises all around and to be courageously creative in seeking and in implementing how we might be shrewd managers of all of God’s gifts today. For the glory of God. Amen.
Read the whole of Liz’s sermon at this link …
and also find out the reason for our choice of image
When you see this image, we hope you’ll think of last Sunday’s Sunday@Six, when we went “Round the World in 60 minutes”. But a very similar image was spotted in an archive post, where it was given the title “Season of Creation”.
30 years ago it was suggested that 1 September should be observed as a day of “protection of the natural environment”, and the proposal was later widened, with churches urged to adopt a Time for Creation stretching from 1 September to the feast of St Francis on 4 October. This was endorsed by the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly in 2007, which recommended that the period “be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change”.
In an article in Christian Today, the Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, is reported to have put the project this way: “We love the beauty of the earth. The fires in the Amazon show how interconnected we are in this beautiful, wonderful, fragile planet. We know there are serious issues to address if we are going to care for God’s earth.
“Season of Creation is a chance once again to give thanks for the gifts of creation, to pray and act in ways that care for God’s creation and address the issues of climate change and the depletion of species. It is the joyful, hopeful responsibility of people throughout the world and particularly of the Church which is both local and global.”
There are many resources available to encourage and help us, as churches, groups or individuals, to observe Creation Time – for example, from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, from the Church of England, from the Anglican Communion.
One that’s close to home is Ecocongregation Scotland, who offer “reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary Readings appointed for these weeks, set against the backdrop of the extreme urgency of the climate crisis and the challenges, which confront us all, without exception, to change our own lives and support and encourage others in the just transition to a human world more likely to weather the turmoil that undoubtedly lies ahead of us all.” Time to reflect!
“We are pilgrims on a journey. We are travellers on the road.” Words that are very familiar to us from the hymn written in 1976 by Richard Gillard from New Zealand. And words that came to mind as I was finalising the August/September issue of Contact, which contains a number of references to pilgrimage.
The main reason was that, early last month, the Fife Pilgrim Way had been officially launched, starting with a morning walk from St Margaret’s Hope to Dunfermline Abbey, where the good and the great of the land spoke about the visions of re-creating this old pilgrimage route, and a service of celebration was held. [There was good coverage of the opening of the Way in the media, and some reports are still on-line, including the Courier and the Herald]
But two quotes that stuck out for me came from an earlier article on The Times website, where Emma Yeomans posted about the growth of pilgrimage in Scotland:
“People are recognising that faith is better described not as a set of principles but as a journey. The more experience you have and more adventures in life, the more you’ll discover.” (Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative MSP)“Pilgrimage helps us to step out of the routine of daily life in which we can easily become stuck, and by taking part in a physical journey our spiritual life can begin to move forward too.” (An unnamed spokeswoman for the Catholic Church)
It’s now August; the days are already getting noticeably shorter; school’s back later this month; we’re about to start again on activities that have been on hold over the summer holidays. So it’s time to start back on that journey and to continue the hymn: “We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.”
Finally, if you want to read a great sermon preached on “The Servant Song”, you can read what Douglas Donley had to say at this link.