Galatians 6:14 I boast only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
Central to the Good Friday worship is the Veneration of the Cross.
The Cross bearing Jesus is carried slowly up the centre of the church.
Three times the priest stops, raises the cross, and says:
“Behold the wood of the cross on which our saviour dies”.
To which all respond: “Come let us worship.”
After the procession all are invited to come forward
and to offer veneration to the cross and to Christ.
Some simply come forward and bow, others will kiss the feet of Christ,
and others will simply touch the cross
to connect with the love that Jesus perfected in this selfless act.
It is a very moving part of the day that recognises and honours
everything that our Lord has done for us and given to us.
It is also symbolic of our commitment to make known God’s love
in our own lives and ministries as Christians.
Whenever I venerate the cross on Good Friday
I think of the words we hear each week at the Eucharist:
This is my body, given for you.
In receiving Holy Communion we receive that body within ourselves,
at this ritual on Good Friday we give ourselves
in surrender and service to that body.
This is my Body by Daniel O’Leary
This is my body.
Those words seem to reverberate around the earth
with transforming power.
They were first whispered by our creator
when the world was brought to birth;
again when the word became human.
It is God become atom, become galaxies,
become universes, become earth,
become flesh, become everything.
Sermon for Lent 5 Passion Sunday
A couple of weeks ago Roger Bannister died.
In 1954, he was the first athlete in the world to run a mile in under 4 minutes.
At the time, it was said that would never be done,
that the human body simply did not have the capacity to run that distance that quickly.
It was thought that it would never be done, but Roger Bannister did it,
and not only that, just 46 days later, the Australian John Landy, did it again.
Within 3 years 300 other athletes ran a mile in under 4 minutes.
But Roger Bannister was the first.
It’s remarkable isn’t it, that something not thought possible was achieved once,
and after that, was repeated again and again.
But according to the scientist Rupert Sheldrake, experiences like this are not unusual.
He calls it by an academic term: Morphic Resonance,
which to simple folk like me, apparently means
that once something has been achieved in one place
it will be achieved again and again elsewhere.
He speaks about experiments with rats in a London laboratory
where they are taught to do a certain trick.
Once the rats in that London laboratory have mastered that trick,
other rats in other parts of the world are also capable of doing the same thing.
There is a link across time and space between species.
It also works with things like crystals.
When a new chemical is made for the first time it is usually hard to crystalise it,
But once they are crystalised once, they crystalise quicker throughout the world.
They are somehow connected and respond to what goes on elsewhere.
All very fascinating, but not being a scientist or being a person who thinks scientifically,
it is not something that would normally hold my attention for very long;
except that I think it has a profound thing to teach us about the spiritual life
and our commitment to it.
Let’s face it, sometimes we wonder
if our spiritual practice has any bearing upon our world at all.
What difference does it make in the great scheme of things
if I come to church every week or not?
What difference does it actually make to our world if I pray?
What significance is there really to one small, unseen, act of kindness?
Well according to the scientist Rupert Sheldrake, who also happens to be a Christian,
those acts make a significant difference to our world.
Because of what he calls “Morphic Resonance” the way you and I live our lives
has a greater impact on the rest of the human race that we would ever imagine.
Because we worship, because we pray,
other people around our world will be drawn to this spiritual practice,
even though they have no idea who we are or what we do.
And likewise we have been influenced and taught
by the practice of others who we have never even heard of.
We are part of each other, we are intimately connected to each other,
we influence each other, support each other and encourage each other
in the most incredible ways.
The simple things that you and I do matter and have a purpose.
Often we feel that we are of no real significance in this vast world and universe,
but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Because we smile at someone the world is changed.
Because of one gentle word, one small act of kindness,
one small unselfish sacrifice; one moment when we refuse to judge or criticise;
because we stop to offer a moments reflection and prayer…
the world is influenced, people we have never met are empowered,
and God’s kingdom breaks through.
Of course modern practitioners give fancy names to it like morphic resonance,
but the ancients have always known about this.
Francis of Assisi
knew the power of doing small, unknown, seemingly insignificant things.
Another of the old saints spoke of going into a chapel
and seeing an elderly peasant woman offering a few prayers at the altar.
He had a vision of the whole world revolving around that woman’s simple prayers.
She, of course, had no idea of their impact.
We do not have to achieve great feats like Roger Bannister
to open new possibilities for human kind.
We simply have to do what is ours to do….
lovingly, kindly, gently, faithfully and prayerfully.
Living our lives, simply in the service of Christ
will charge our world with the wonder of God’s love.
What you and I think, say and do on a daily basis matters,
and is significant not only for us, but for our world.