Sunday 22nd March 2020

Day 26   An Extension of Eucharist

While the mantra has become my primary method of prayer, it is not by any means the only form of prayer I use. The mantra will fit in and around any other way you find useful to pray. I still have set prayers I use at various times during the day; first thing in the morning, at night, and often at other moments in the day. The Daily Offices of the church, prayers of blessing, reading scripture, are all ways of praying I use at various times. It is just that my mantra has become the key thread that runs through the day and is the prayer that is most available to me.

I wrote in a previous reflection that I use my mantra as a preparation for worship; it is also a continuation of that worship, an extension of the Eucharist. I believe that the Eucharist is the central and primary prayer of Christian life. It is in celebrating the Eucharist together that truly opens us to the Prayer of Christ that resonates within us and within our world. The Eucharist is the prayer that calls us together, unites us, feeds us, and sends us out to share Eucharist; to share God’s love and Presence, with our community and world. We are not just called to celebrate Eucharist, and receive Eucharist, but also to live Eucharistically – to be living sacraments of God’s love in our world. To live prayerfully is to see everything we do, everything we are involved in, everything we experience, to be extension of the sacred moment we share together at the Eucharist. It is to begin to learn to live each moment in Holy Communion – with God, and with those we are called to share our lives.

The praying of the mantra has become for me a symbol of this sacred extension of the Eucharist. All prayer is this, but the mantra is a simple way of reminding ourselves of the sacred task we are called to participate in through our commitment to Christ; to live and share the bounty of Eucharist.

It is important that we do not compartmentalise our times of worship, to see them as separate times to the rest of our lives. Our worship feeds our life and life feeds our worship. Praying my mantra helps me to keep that connection.

………………………………….

I drink from your cup
So freely.
“The blood of Christ” they say,
“Amen” I respond
And drink.

“Can you drink from the cup I drink?”
You ask.
I pause to think which cup:
The cup of sorrow?
The cup of joy?
The cup of need?
The cup of plenty?
The cup of service?
The cup of humility?
The cup of cost?
The cup of abundance?

“Yes” you say
And look deeply
Into the very core
Of my soul.

I hesitate.
You smile.
“The cup of grace”
You say,
“The cup of grace.”

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Mothering Sunday 2020

I would prefer to be writing a sermon for Mothering Sunday, but find myself instead writing a reflection to send out to you on the first Sunday that worship has been suspended because of the coronavirus. These are difficult times and are causing a lot of anxiety for many. In many ways Mothering Sunday is an appropriate Sunday for this to begin. Sharing motherly love and concern for each other at this time is essential for all our well-being.

When I was a child I went through the most difficult time of my life health-wise. I had a kidney disease, which at the time nobody was sure how to treat. It was a very difficult and worrying time for my parents. I was in hospital for long periods of time, and my mum took the biggest brunt of that. She never missed a day’s visiting and was always there from when visiting started to when it ended; even when I was in Leeds Infirmary, a long way from my home near Bridlington, she was there. She stayed with my Aunt who lived closer to Leeds, and negotiated complex trains and buses to get there. To add to the difficulty she was not particularly healthy herself at the time, she had cataracts on both eyes which could not be operated on because of a blood disorder she suffered from. So she was doing all this with extremely poor sight. But that is a mother’s love for you, it goes beyond the expected, it is at times heroic, it is unconditional. In this way it mirrors God’s love, which is why Mothering Sunday is such an important festival in our year, it reminds us of the love that knows no barriers.

In these difficult times we need more than ever to reflect a mother’s love to each other. To be there for each other, to go beyond the norm in watching out for each other, and in serving each other. We have many vulnerable people in our community who will be pushed to their limits in the days ahead, as we all will. It is important that we all know that we are not alone that we are part of a wider family, a caring community, and that we matter and are loved.

May God bless us and inspire us with motherly love as we pull together and support each other in what is to come; even if it can only be by phone or sending each other cards. And, just as importantly, may God help us to have that same love for ourselves and do what we can to keep ourselves as safe as possible also. Emailed up dates will continue during this time, and I hope you will also help me keep up to date with what is happening to you and others so we can best embrace each other and find strength in each other. Most importantly, as a church we may not be able to meet together at this time, but we can pray together. As long as I remain well I will offer daily prayers at 9.30am, and compline prayers 8pm, in church; and celebrate a Eucharist on a Wednesday and Sunday morning. Please try and pause for a while, wherever you are, and join me in those prayers and let us hold one another before God in love.

The prayers I will use in the morning and for Compline can be found on the church website linked to this blog, and also on previous correspondence sent out.

It is easy to get caught up in focussing only on the negative at this time. It is easy to get angry with many who are shopping selfishly. But I have witnessed many people who are serving, loving, caring and reflecting God’s Motherly love. Let’s place our focus and attention on that, and allow it to be our guiding light.

May God bless you, and surround you with peace and love at this time.