I imagine most of us have done some weeping the last few weeks. It seems appropriate, therefore, to think a bit about tears this morning. And I’m going to begin by quoting a passage from the Book of Esther:
The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty seven provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language.
St Luke Writing the Gospel in the Presence of the Virgin by Hermen Rode (?1468-c. 1504)
‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
All Saints' Church, Ham
Quite understandably, it may have slipped your mind we’re in Lent. So perhaps it’s particularly perverse of me to open this morning with a reflection on… Advent:
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
To you all,
I have a feeling the Psalms are going to come into their own over the coming weeks and months, resonating in our hearts with a fresh and poignant relevancy. Suddenly, their deeply personal, sometimes agonised, calls on God for His mercy and healing and steadfast love will sound like our own deepest thoughts and feelings given voice.
Yesterday, saying Psalm 22 in an empty village church was – for me – one of those moments when you feel scripture speaking absolutely directly to you.
I spent yesterday evening in my study with several members of clergy. No, we weren’t in breach of government directives: they were on a screen. We were trying to be together, apart. Video conferencing software helps. A bit.
In a sense we were trying to answer an old question for new times, the question posed in Psalm 137:
How can we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land? (4)
Two butterflies are fluttering up against the east window of All Saints Burbage where I'm saying Morning Prayer. Apart from me, they’re the only living things in the place. And they’re trapped. We all feel trapped at the moment.
This morning I had a semi-semaphore conversation with my self-isolating brother-in-law through a closed window. Anxiety in his eyes; he certainly feels trapped.
Coming home, I find this reflection from Lucy…