Reflection for 22nd March

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Readings for the day: 1 Samuel 1:20-28 and John 19:25-27

In the sermon I had begun to write on Monday for Mothering Sunday, I talked about the importance of giving thanks for those who care for us, particularly our mothers. This is easy when we have had a good experience of being mothered and mothering in our lives, but much more challenging if we have not. In person, I would have focussed in on thanking God for those who care for us, those we care for and being thankful for God’s care for us all. But as I am writing these thoughts in unprecedented times I will be taking a different tack.

Interestingly both the readings set for today, indicate the more challenging times of life we can experience in caring for others. The first reading is an account of Hannah taking her much wished for toddler to the temple, and Hannah giving to God her longed for and prayed for child. Then we have Mary, the mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross of her son. We can almost feel her pain and anguish. As his last moments ebbed away on the cross, Jesus told Mary that his beloved disciple was to be her son, and the disciple took her into his own home. Even to the last and in extremis Jesus was loving and caring.

I don’t think I have ever known a week in my lifetime like the one we have just experienced. Definitely a time to go back to first principles, and I was reminded on Wednesday’s morning prayer readings of this verse – Hebrews 6:19-20a.

19 We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, 

This takes us back to where our hope comes from, and in this Lenten season, as we prepare for Easter it reminds us of what Jesus’ love for us on the cross is all about. I read this verse and a hymn I learnt when I went to Theological College in Wales also came to mind – the stirring – Will you anchor hold (By Priscilla Jane Owens). If you were associated with the boys brigade you will know it… It is in our hymnbooks – but I am so new that I have no idea if it is ever sung here (No 569) I attach a link so you can listen to it

https://youtu.be/F9aLhTHmuTg

There are a number of things I find helpful about this hymn:-

  • It returns again and again to the us being “fastened to the rock and grounded firm and deep” in Jesus our saviour’s love for us. This is so important in our current times.
  • It addresses feeling stressed and fearful, and reminds us of the love beyond us – the love of God that sent Jesus to us. Love that is for yesterday, today and forever.
  • Somehow too the tune matches the words and has an air of the waves of the sea. Looking to the horizon and watching the waves on the shore is something I have always loved and brings me great comfort. It reminds me of another hymn that begins – There’s wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea. (Frederick Faber – number 501 in our hymn book). Here is one of my many pictures of the sea to help us ponder God’s mercy and love for us. (It is from the seafront in Sidmouth in December 2019 in the wintery sunshine).

Resting on God’s love for us is important at these times, as is praying. As I was saying in our worship last Sunday, there are loads of ways to worship God in our day to day lives. As a part of this the most important thing we can do (and we can always do) no matter what is pray. There are lots of resources out there to help and I commend what is available on the Church of England Website – and to use the daily prayer resources I have already sent out electronically –

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources

As we pray we may want to intersperse our prayers with the traditional comfortable words. A source of strength and steadfastness to Anglicans over the years.

“Hear the words of comfort our Saviour Christ says to all who truly turn to him:

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11.28

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3.16

Hear what Saint Paul says:
This saying is true, and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
1 Timothy 1.15

Hear what Saint John says: If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins.”
1 John 2.1,2

I am so grateful to those who have been ringing me to check I am OK. Let’s keep strongly connected in ways in keeping with the current social isolating guidelines. It is my hope in our phone conversations, emails, webposts and the like we can share the anchor we have in God’s love for us – “fastened to the rock and grounded firm and deep” in Jesus our saviour’s love for us –  to encourage each other in the days and weeks ahead whatever that brings..

And some final words of heartfelt blessing for us all

The Lord bless us and watch over us, the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us, the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among us and remain with us always. Amen.

 With Love in Christ, Alison Way

Copyright acknowledgements

Some material included is copyright: ©  The Archbishops’ Council 2000

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 

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