Sermon for the First Sunday of Trinity

29th May 2016


Sermon for the First Sunday of Trinity Year C

 

The Healing of the Centurion's Slave.

 

Lord, I am not worthy that thou should come under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed”. Luke 7.1-10

 

 

In this morning’s Gospel Reading we have a Centurion, a high-ranking military leader on peace keeping work in a volatile country far from home, and his slave, who is sick and in need of healing. In the harsh world of Roman-occupied First century Palestine, the centurion seems to have been an unusually kind man. Firstly, he cares a lot about his slave’s well-being. But interestingly, as a Roman, he has the enthusiastic support of the local Jewish leaders who say he is worthy, loves the Jewish people and has even built a synagogue for them. In a difficult social environment he has won their hearts and minds. The Gospels dwells strongly with the idea of Jesus the Messiah who comes to proclaim a new Kingdom, where the outsider may be included, and where the complex of cultures, religions and customs and statuses may find their source and destiny in Him.

 

The current exhibition at The British Museum ‘Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost World’ gives a fascinating insight into a world which centuries before Christ and up to and including the life of Christ was multicultural, multi-religious. Swirling around the known world were a whole host of beliefs and Gods and traditions. Whether in Ancient Greece or in Egypt or Capernaum there lies ample evidence of great diversity and of shared understandings and practices and profound and astonishing cultural and religious exchanges. This delivers a contemporary message in our own time. For this complex picture is beautiful in its intricacy, and runs counter to the actions of those terrorist groups which have attempted to destroy historical sites and artefacts because their mind-set  must refuse the human exchanges they invite. Jesus himself, the Roman centurion, the Romans themselves and their Emperor; the Jews - all held sway within a larger social melting pot. On the one hand all kinds of social barriers and anathemas were observed and yet on the other hand, many like us lived with diversity and differences as a fact of life. Capernaum itself was a properpous internationsl meeting place which would have challenged the average citizen to look beyond himself.

 

The Centurion is a surprising man. He does not come to Jesus commanding him to heal his slave, but instead tries to avoid inconveniencing Jesus, one who is in every respect his social inferior. The way he entreats Jesus is an indication of the way he has respected the rest of the local population. His humility and generosity of spirit have gone against what would have been expected of him, and in respect he is a very unusual man indeed. It would have been normal for one of his kind to be hated, like the tax-collectors whose lives and works he was employed to protect. But in his person he breaks the binary oppositions of his day, and to achieve this must have taken courage and humility in equal measure. He's in some respects the odd one out.

 

The centurion is also a curious man. In relation to the love of his own slave the centurion is not only concerned but decidedly devoted in a way which would have been most unusual. Many commentators have read the relationship between the centurion and the servant as a gay one. In those days the Roman soldiery were called ‘gay’ as an insult, and this was a term of abuse. Many soldiers involved themselves in same-sex activity, and if this was so then this Gospel reading involves a comment on the way in which we see Jesus including and addressing the needs of many who were vilified, ridiculed and ostracized, and in particular this very Centurion, a senior member of an occupying force whose religious identity (he may have worshipped many gods) lay at great variance to the Faith of Israel.  The intensity of his request for the healing of the slave would at the very least have ‘raised eyebrows’. Jesus himself would have been very aware of this and of the parallel disparity in status between the Centurion and his slave and yet he is willing to grant the soldier’s request without demur.

 

The parable strongly points to two very important observations. The first of these is what one theologian has called the cardinal of all Christian virtues, the virtue of humility. Jesus humbles his own status as Messiah to reach out and to meet the lives of those considered intolerable or alien. The Centurion humbles himself before a Jewish rabbi. Remember the other outcasts of lower social status: the woman at the well, the Syro-Phoenician woman, and the Samaritan! The same words of the centurion are written into the Rite of the Mass as we say before we receive the sacrament:

 

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you (or ‘I am not worthy to come under your roof’), but only say the word and I shall be healed.

 

The second observation lies in the sheer breadth of Christ’s compassionate understanding. It is in this vein that the Church is to involve itself at the deepest and most responsive level to the world that it inhabits, in all its beauty and pain. It was a former Dean of Westminster, Eric Abbot, who reminded us that

 

The Church is where the tensions of human life have to be confronted at their deepest level.

 

Jesus has reached out to humanity in all its variety and type, in all its forms and customs and in all its faith and waywardness and he has met this same humanity with a love which has been called ‘the love beyond all telling’; the love of God himself. Kenneth Leech, late friend of this parish and great spiritual teacher wrote of what he called the ‘crucified mind’ which opposes ‘the crusading mind’:

 

The crucified mind is the love which grows deeper through pain, and which seeks its end through what may seem a harsh and dreadful love, but whose aim is the transformation of its opponents.

 

This way of love is not just framed as cozy liberality but as a working love, going beyond the barriers of status and self and challenging us to see God in our neighbour which is essential if we are to realize our own identity in the image and likeness of the Creator. Jesus is for all time the One who reconciles us to God. He alone is able to reach our humanity at the place of its greatest need, and especially where that need for healing and reconciliation with God is prevented or remains unspoken or opposed. The reaching out of God to Man is not to be seen merely as some kind of heroic gesture on God’s part, but the offering of the one thing necessary for the healing of the real person, the reinstatement of the human in the being and likeness of God, whether centurion or slave, whether Messiah or reluctant disciple, whether insider or outsider…



Sermon for the Feast of The Holy Trinity

22nd May 2016


SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY TRINITY

 


Perichoresis means that whenever one person of the Trinity acts, the other two are involved, that each divine person permeates the other two without being merged into them, and  that they dwell in each other and communicate their life and love to One another. The Rublev Icon of The Holy Trinity manages to communicate this very beautifully and simply and invites us to inhabit this sublime truth telling as an invitation into the household of God’s love where a place is reserved for you and beckons you to come and eat at God's table. No one has expressed this mystery better than George Herbert:

 

LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning

If I lack'd anything.

 

'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:'

Love said, 'You shall be he.'

'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,

I cannot look on Thee.'

Love took my hand and smiling did reply,

'Who made the eyes but I?'

 

'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.'

'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'

'My dear, then I will serve.'

'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.'

So I did sit and eat.

 

The Persons of the Trinity cannot exist or act without relating to one another and by natural extension, to us. The existence of God is a relationship. As the Athanasian Creed puts it, "And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; but the whole Three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal." That is why between them, the opening verses of Genesis and John's gospel indicate that creation was the work of the Trinity. And that is why Jesus could tell the disciples that he is in the Father and the Father in him, why he could promise that the Holy Spirit would be with them and in them. And so, as we emerge from six months of hearing and singing about the events in the life of Jesus, we are stopped in our tracks and reminded that our proper response is to worship God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And when we worship we introduce those elements of awe and wonder, and we describe our Christian Faith in the words of poetic utterance, as John Donne memorably wrote,

 

O Blessed glorious Trinity,

Bones to Philosophy, but milk to faith.

 

We are confronted with a mystery and we will spend a lifetime not only pondering but living that mystery as a response to the God we experience as a real presence. Our only reasonable response lies in our worship. As John Mason, the seventeenth century poet and hymn writer, put it, “we are best reduced to awed silence in the face of God's holy presence”. And he expresses something of this thinking in his famous hymn ‘How shall I sing that Majesty?’

 

How great a being, Lord, is thine,

Which doth all beings keep!

Thy knowledge is the only line

To sound so vast a deep.

Thou art a sea without a shore,

A sun without a sphere;

Thy time is now and ever more,

Thy place is everywhere.

 

It should not deter us that the things of God remain hidden from mere knowledge and that faith demands of us much courage and staying power. In the face of so-called ‘proofs to the contrary’ by Richard Dawkins and armchair critics, of those who cannot believe in a God who would allow human suffering the response is not to become argumentative but rather to let things be. There is no need for defensiveness. Without God and without an imperfect, complex, diverse, suffering yet beautiful world, where would we be? Life would have us exist as automatons and the environment we lived in would resemble a sanatorium, where our basic freedoms would be denied. There would be no human hope. That hope would be denied humankind because there would be no recourse to the life of the complete person, living not just as a machine but as a soul, as a human being made to live in freedom in the image and the likeness of the Maker, where life is not lived in a simple straight line, but is unpredictable, and ultimately unfathomable without living from its heart, which is God.

 

If you visit Dublin in Ireland you will want to go and see the great treasure of Ireland, The Book of Kells. It was a treasure even in its own lifetime, made in about the year 800, and is a Book containing the Gospels and Books of the New Testament. This was a book not written but ‘illuminated’ and reveals to us the characteristic endless swirls and twists and turns in the calligraphy, apparently leading nowhere but ending and beginning somewhere. The life of God and the life of humankind is always interrelated, as are all things. These characteristic Celtic swirls also surround and support Christian symbols, and we have a marvellous illustration of Christ as a Celtic Chieftan, an imposing and frightening figure. But the real point is that these Celtic Christians had combined old and new beliefs and their embrace of Christianity was one which did not extinguish the difficult questions that life posed for them. They would have lived harsh, brutal and brief lives in a hostile climate, and yet the illumination of their precious Christian Gospels is a sign of their desire to cling to the Gospel message in all its truth and beauty and at the same time not pretend that life was not like it was and that the people were not as they were. Life was difficult and the human terrain intractable and unbearable. And yet the swirling maze of beautifully and intricately crafted illumination shows an inner joy of spirit, of a knowing and unknowing; of an advanced and intense spirituality. It is a knowledge of God sprung from the human heart and soul; and all this at the end of what we call The Dark Ages. Out of the dark, there emerged illumination; light. This was the light of faith and the one which, burning in human hearts, proved then and now to be a living flame that would never be extinguished. Proof, if you needed proof, of the existence of God in a form not merely spoken or written or conceptualised, but fully realised in the lives of those who trusted in the Mystery.

 

This is a prayer to the trinity written by an old late friend, Father Harry Smythe, once Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and great disciple, based on words from John 1.18, "No man has ever seen God. He who is God only begotten, he made him known'. His life's prayer:

 

O mystery most blessed most holy

Most merciful most loving most mighty

Most true most honourable most beautiful

Unfathomable abyss of peace

Unutterable ocean of love

Fount of blessing

Giver of affection

Holy joy.

Father, Son, Holy Spirit,

One God in three perosns

Ever to be worshipped and adored

Be thou to us

Rectitude, fortitude, beatitude,

Refreshment, light, peace,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 



Sermon for the Feast of Pentecost

15th May 2016


Sermon for the Feast of Pentecost 2016

 

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”  Acts 2.4

 

Those of you who are observant may have noticed a distinct change in the appearance of the church this morning. I do not mean the obvious change from the liturgical colour white for Eastertide to that of red for Pentecost. No, you will notice that the great Paschal Candle, which has been lit on the Sundays of Eastertide, is now extinguished and placed not at this end of the church, in the sanctuary, but at the back of church next to the font. This symbolic moving of the candle tells us that Eastertide, the time of Resurrection, is for the time being, ended. In the yearly liturgical cycle of the church, however, there is never a complete ending. One season gives way to yet another. And in this way the moving of the paschal candle tells us of the great shift that has now occurred in the Church as she receives at Pentecost The Holy Spirit, which the life and death and resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ has made possible.

 

For the followers of Jesus the moment of the coming of the Holy Spirit was both singular and devastating. For these men and women, many of whom had been with Jesus, his teaching and his example of Jesus Christ had provided a Gospel and a witness of unparalleled spiritual power. Works of healing flowed naturally from this power as did the inspiration to preach, testify and to witness conversion. Pentecost had come to them in the giving of spiritual gifts. And the giver was the Giver of all things, God himself. The Christian witness developed out of this same Holy Spirit, which had been given to refresh, establish, sustain, re-invigorate, deepen and enlarge the Christian witness. This witness had hitherto been essentially a  responsive one. Responsive in the presence of Jesus Christ himself, whether in the flesh or as He appeared to them as their resurrected Lord. The Christian Church came into being not as an act of human will, but as a gift from God, freely given in His Son Jesus Christ. It was given, moreover, to be re-imagined, re-given, re-expressed and continually restored in his likeness. It bears testimony to a living church not a dead one. The description of the proliferation of languages is the one which establishes the scope and the scale of Pentecost. It is a breakthrough moment in the lives and fortunes of the early Christian witness at the smaller level at the larger level, a quantum movement forward in the life of the people of the whole world. But the important fact is that the initiative and the providence always remains with God and not with men and women. They have been overtaken, as it were by the generosity of the God who has in Jesus Christ, gone before them, and who now lives with them in an utterly transformed way. The Holy Spirit has been gifted and it will remain. In John’s Gospel there is no doubt, but that this gift has transformed the consciousness of who God is and what God does:

 

God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit, and in truth.

King James Version (1611)

 

The term ‘Spirit’ or ‘Spiritual’ is of course not an easy one to define. People talk about the 'spiritual' in a loose way and it can refer to the atmosphere of a church like this one. It is used in many different ways. On the one hand, people say that they do not believe in God but they are nonetheless ‘spiritual’. On the other hand, there is a whole level of Christian understanding which comes to us as ‘spirituality’ as indicating depth of knowledge and of prayer. It has been of vital importance for the Church to anchor this term ‘spiritual’ in terms which make it legible and which establishes a preventative against its misapplication. In our anointing with Holy Oil this morning will we have the sign of the Cross impressed upon our foreheads and the anointing sets a seal upon the life giving Spirit. In the sacraments of Confirmation and Ordination, a central place is established for the formal summoning of the Holy Spirit by the Bishop, movingly expressed in the ancient hymn ‘Come Holy Ghost our Souls Inspire and Lighten With Celestial Fire’, written in the ninth century and translated by Bishop John Cosin in the 1640s.

 

 

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

and lighten with celestial fire.

Thou the anointing Spirit art,

who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

 

Thy blessed unction from above

is comfort, life, and fire of love.

Enable with perpetual light

the dullness of our blinded sight.

 

Anoint and cheer our soiled face

with the abundance of thy grace.

Keep far from foes, give peace at home:

where thou art guide, no ill can come.

 

Teach us to know the Father, Son,

and thee, of both, to be but One,

that through the ages all along,

this may be our endless song:

 

Praise to thy eternal merit,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

 

The Holy Spirit’s startling movement through the barriers of language and culture remind us that its nature is to challenge the Church to look beyond itself. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the one which calls the Church to see the person of Christ all around us - in the eyes of the stranger, the visitor, the refugee, the homeless one, the marginalized, the gay person, the drunk, the depressed, the impossible and the despised and the fatalistic as well as my family and my church friends! A Bishop once reminded me that a church like Holy Cross is only as effective in Christian terms in its ability to minister to its most trying and difficult members. The Spirit is holy and gives nourishment, and it can console. But it also calls us out of ourselves and beyond the level of our natural complacencies. It settles and it disturbs, it enlightens and it confounds at the same time, because it is a truthful spirit and we do not always live in the light of God’s truth. God is to be found in the other, in the realization of things beyond our immediate realisation. He is often called ‘The Holy Other’. In this, in the wisdom of God, there may come new life, for the Spirit renews us as it draws us out of ourselves. So- let us be alive and awakened to its presence! Let us wait on this same Holy Spirit which came upon the followers at Pentecost. May it enlighten and strengthen and re-awaken in us to a truer and braver sense of God’s purposes for us and for our world.

 

It is now our task to understand what has been happening; that the paschal light has lead us surely to the Pentecostal fire  – and so now we are called to become lights for Christ in our own generation, for

 

 

Unless the eye catch fire

The God will not be seen.

 

Unless the ear catch fire

The God will not be heard.

 

Unless the tongue catch fire

The God will not be named.

 

Unless the heart catch fire

The God will not be loved.

 

Unless the mind catch fire

The God will not be known.

 

From 'Pentecost' by William Blake.

 



Sermon for the Feast of The Ascension

8th May 2016


Holy Cross Church Cromer Street 

A Sermon for the Feast of the Ascension

 

The Ascension allows us to see the life and death and resurrection of Jesus as one complete offering. Its legacy is broad and far-reaching, namely the establishment of what the New Testament has called ‘the Kingdom of God’ on earth, which is a Kingdom of love and of mercy. And this Kingdom is realised in direct relation to the complimentary vision of Heaven, that state of being to which none of us have had direct experience, and yet which nonetheless still encourages us to see our life here on earth in direct relation to it. We affirm this vision in the Lord’s Prayer when we speak to God and say ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. And on God’s part there is for ever a world transformed into his likeness, where the particular mark of the new Kingdom is radically inclusive - the one which speaks of mercy toward all people and understanding in and among them. The simple ceremony of the new (Muslim) Mayor of London’s swearing-in ceremony at Southwark Cathedral was a sign for our times and related very much to the bringing together and the holding together of human difference. And in and among these promises is the acknowledgement of the existence and the influence of the human and the divine, and of the bringing together of the many in the one essential identity and the one true purpose.  The message is clear: we all belong to one another, we all need one another, and we find God in one another. In deep human understanding, whose roots lie in an understanding of the nature and purposes of God, we hold out against paralysing fear and we challenge the malign effects conflict and division. This plays itself out both at the personal level and in our society. Sadiq Khan’s choice of a Christian Cathedral venue for his swearing in to a multicultural, multi ethnic and multi-religious London was therefore very telling and significant.

 

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led thy captivity captive; thou hast received gifts among men, yea, among the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell with them. Ephesians 4.8

 

The mixing and merging of the divine and the human is symbolised in a small ceremony embedded in this Eucharist as the priest, preparing the Eucharistic offering, pours a small amount of water into the chalice he has filled with wine. These elements symbolise the divinity and the humanity of Christ. And as he does this, the priest says these words “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity”. The water does not dilute. The coming of Christ brings about the meeting point between the divine and human realms, and also the heavenly and the earthly; which have in him mixed and merged; and produced the bright glimmer which we have called GLORY and the influence which is what we have called HOLY. The great prayer of worship sums it all up. It is called the Sanctus:

 

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord,

God of power and might,

Heaven and Earth are full of your glory.

Hosanaah in the Highest!

Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,

Hosannah in the Highest!

 

The Ascension is the outpouring of the glory not only of God but also of humanity and the unlikely possibilities that may emerge out of human lives like ours and others. God has become like us in Jesus Christ so that we may now share in the divine likeness, which for the first time becomes accessible to us in Him.

 

“Where there is no vision; the people perish” says the writer of Proverbs in 29.18. The Ascension grants us that vision, maybe only partially expressed, but in actual fact opening up for us, a new vision of what John the Divine called “New Heavens and a New Earth”. And the coming of this vision is very important in our own times. If we are living in an age where we are defined merely as consumers, sharers of basic information rather than conversationalists; where increasingly we see ourselves as subject to forces and influences beyond our control, and where language is abbreviated and human experience subject to so many mechanical transactions, then we need a new vision which embraces us in all our humanity and which is possessed of radical compassion and where human dialogue issues out of a deep courtesy. The opening up of the idea of the Christ who ‘leads captivity captive’, the creation of ‘new heavens and a new earth’ brings us to the place where life is no longer seen as pertaining to the old dull flat, two dimensional existence, but one which has become bright with light and multi- dimensional and multifaceted.   This is the same God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” and who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus ...2 Corinthians 4.6.

 

 

 



Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

1st May 2016


Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter Year C

 

“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up”. John 5.7

 

 

The Easter Sundays remind us that the Resurrection of Jesus was not an isolated event, stranded in time. When Jesus rose from the tomb, a dam had burst. Out of that dam flowed the love of God in the outpouring of resurrection grace. It flowed into the life of the world for its own revival and for the re-shaping of its destiny.

 

On each of these successive Easter Sundays our Gospel readings have allowed us to share in the Resurrection and to recall its significance for the reinstatement and the transformation of human lives. We have been sharing the resurrection with those who were the first witnesses. We have been recalling ‘doubting’ Thomas and the finger entering the wound at the side of Christ, and have been sharing breakfast with Him as we recognise the Christ in our midst. We have understood the Easter message as a renewal of our hopes and intentions and as the proclamation of a renewed and transformed ‘divine society’. Easter has surely come to us in the continued outpouring of grace in the life and death and resurrection of Christ, expressed beautifully and succinctly in the conclusion of the Angelus prayer:

 

Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord,

thy Grace into our hearts;

that as we have known the incarnation of Christ

thy Son by the message of an angel,

so by His cross and passion

we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.

Through the same Christ, our Lord.

Amen.

 

I want you to see that pouring forth not like trickling water, out of a jug, but as a powerful ‘pouring forth’ which has (finally) escaped from the massive unyielding, age old dam as the roaring of mighty waters possessed of phenomenal baptismal energy. We catch a glimpse of these things in the Revelation of John:

 

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

Revelation 19.6

 

To compliment this powerful theological symbolism this morning’s Gospel reading replies in different kind.  In St John’s Gospel, we witness in the intense quiet of a Jerusalem portico the terrible staying power of a crippled old man who has for thirty-eight years been waiting for his healing. We have a vivid description of this patient man waiting beside a small water spring, the pool of Bethesda; the ‘house of mercy’. There he waits for the deliverance which has never come. He is never able to get to the water when it springs up. He signifies the type of person who finds themselves waiting on the fact of life as unreconciled; waiting for a healing or a resolution that never seems to come, grappling with questions which remain unanswered and of past conflicts which remain unresolved; waiting in the pain f it.  We know that in Deuteronomy 2.14 his thirty-eight years corresponds to the fruitless wandering in the desert of the people of Israel. The old man has spent years and years with his own incapacity as a kind of living doom. And perhaps he is resigned and perhaps he is apathetic or hopeful; we don’t know...

 

The stirring of the waters comes to us as a quintessential Easter figure. It beckons us toward the healing grace which God is offering us in His Son. Jesus is identified as the same living water which feeds the tree of life in The Revelation of John. In this way we speak about the healing of the ‘whole’ person, the person in their complete humanity, the struggle with a life which perhaps feels only too real and yet in another sense, an exile. Scripture speaks to us today of the healing waters of God's grace which flows over and into this crevice.

 

The call to believe in Jesus is the one which advances the desire we have, whether we realise it or not, for the healing of our lives at their deepest level, and for that reconciliation with God which is our life’s true purpose. We are not as Christians to be either stoic or casual about these things. The resurrection is God’s promise for our healing. It stands for the inflowing of the divine gift, given to us now as a summons to faith in Him in response to his question 'Do you wish to be healed?' And we are to respond, as best we can, open-heartedly:

 

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

John 7.38.

 

Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith was built in the early 1980s and the planners and architect provided generously for what they called a ‘Chaplaincy Suite’. In my time as chaplain, it was situated between the hydrotherapy pool and the genito-urinary clinic: the modern day equivalent of the Pool of Bethesda.  It is a pleasing situation because placed where it is both set apart and yet also very accessible, on the ground floor. But it is also pleasing for the quality of the natural light, and for two great works of art, each of them modern stain glass windows, which stand in the sanctuary of the round chapel. The windows were designed and made by John Piper, and renowned for the directness of their viewpoint and for the amazing depth of their colours. The two windows are named ‘The Waters of Life’ and ‘The Tree of Life’. They are there in that light-filled chapel. They are there to speak to the distressed or quietened patient, or to the one who says in their prayer of pain “Sir, Jesus, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up”. I feel helpless now. I am in a desert. From where is my life to come now?

 

The windows stand as a vivid reminder of the source of life and the means of Resurrection grace. In the setting of a busy hospital, they offer a vision for the healing of the person alongside the usual forms of medical care and yet pointing to the source of healing lying beyond them.

 

The Easter message repeats itself and this is the refrain :

 

That in all that makes life intractable, difficult and painful, and for all those things which demand our patient waiting,

Jesus comes to meet us as for our healing just as he came to meet the man at the pool of Bethesda.

 

 

 

Unfathomed love divine

Reign thou within my heart;

From thee nor depth nor height,

Nor life nor death can part;

Our life is hid with God in thee,

Now and through all eternity.

 

Amen.



 

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