During this particularly hazardous phase of the Pandemic, we may not all be gathered in the same building. We just cant meet as a congregation. But at this time, when we need each other… so much, we are invited to worship together, from where we are – knowing that God can hear us all and can blend even distant voices into one song of worship. So ley us now….worship God as we draw our hearts together.
Because this Sunday is the start of the World week of prayer for Christian unity, we are conscious of the mysterious fellowship of all the Churches, around the World, each of them sharing the same restrictions and lockdown rules that we have here in our own Church. Sadly, many Christians, faithful believers have been victims of this pandemic. Of the 2 million or so people who have died, many have died in the faith to realise the promise of Jesus, to be true, eternal life. But many others may not have been so fortunate.
It is our duty as Christians, to share in the tasks of bringing people to the Lord Jesus, and that is all we have to do, except perhaps to share our faith and lead them to baptism. Inexperienced Christians are nervous about this task. You need not be nervous or afraid. In John’s Gospel, we hear Jesus saying…“Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” Read John Ch 15
During this Global lockdown, the Sisters of a Monastic community in Switzerland, Grandchamp, invite people to join them at home in practicing silence and prayer. For 2021, the sisters are inviting churches across the world to enter into their tradition of prayer and silence that is rooted in the ancient traditions of the Church. When science and pharmaceutical drugs cannot help us, our faith can help people to calm their fears and remove their anxiety.
Daily, politicians and appointed medical experts preach about our physical well being and we thank them for their small contribution. But Our spiritual well-being is as important as our physical well-being. In the past year both of these have been seriously challenged: the Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to be careful about our own health, taking precautions such as washing hands and wearing face masks and maintaining social distance. Some of us have been ill or have lost someone close to us. Meanwhile the working lives of many have been disrupted and families kept apart. This is often at huge personal cost. Thousands of grannies have been denied a hug just when they need one most. Perhaps it has made us all more anxious about our health and more aware of our vulnerability. At the same time, when most needed, church buildings have been closed and worship has been taking place online. Opportunities to worship and pray together have been seriously curtailed. Many are feeling a sense of isolation from God as well as from fried and neighbour. The period of lockdown has caused us to think again about our priorities and the things and people that we value. The things that make our lives whole. The long periods of absence from extended family and friends, and the inability to share a meal together or celebrate a birthday or a wedding or funeral , are examples of this.
When it comes to our spiritual life, what is it that is most important for our well-being? The World churches in the World Ecumenical council, have asked the Sisters of Grandchamp to put together a program of spiritual exercise and contemplation that could help people around the world, to benefit through reflection and meditation.
The Sisters of Grandchamp have offered us something uniquely precious: an opportunity to engage with a form of prayer that is both very ancient and yet at the same time so apposite for our times. The ancient rhythm of prayer found in many religious orders and their traditions teach us that when we pray, we pray not just on our own or with those who share the same physical space, but with the whole Church, the Body of Christ.
This tradition of prayer and spirituality, despite the things that hurt and separate us, invites us into shared prayer and silence together. Surely a most precious gift in troubled times. Come with us this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and enter into a place of community and blessing. Simply “be” in this place and be carried by the prayer and the reality that it is God, in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, who carries us and accompanies us.
If you wish to follow the service and prayer vigils, best followed in the evening or at night, please log on to the website for week of Prayer for Christian Unity, or the Pontifical Ecumenical council site or the World Ecumenical Council site. We will use the CTBI site (Christians Together in Britain and Ireland) site. Or www.grandchamp.org If you do so, you can join a series of 3 vigils nightly in the Benedictine contemplative style.
Rev. Donald Prentice