Wednesday, 26 May 2010
We know that the meeting of the Apostle to the English with the Welsh Bishops did not go well. St. Augustine failed to rise from his throne when they entered to meet him in the 603AD after Pope St. Gregory sent him on the mission to Britain in 597AD. One of my favourite walks in the adjoining parish which I take from time to time with my working cocker spaniel (yes we shoot, it is what she is bed for!) is to cross the railway track on foot being careful always to listen for the Cardiff to Gloucester train first with 'Dot' safely on the lead! When we get to the Severn estuary between the two road bridges we get to the Old Passage Quay about two miles further downstream and looking past Black Rock to Aust(named after Augustine) on the other side of the estuary about 3miles away at this point. I imagine the boats putting out with Holy Celtic bishops wrapping themselves in their cloaks and preparing to defend their traditions and their 'patrimony' but being open to the Pope's representative as they honour the successor of Peter but now learn they don't like what they see of his negotiator. Here are some photos of this walk where we encounter lapwing, reed bunting, teal, pochard, heron, mallard, hen harrier, oyster catcher and on the marsh wild samphire. Under the episcopal boats the wild salmon decide to go straight on for the Severn or turn left (North) up the Wye. They disembark on the Bristol side and can't understand why their ancient tradition of the liturgy in Greek and their adherence to the Eastern Churches celebration of Easter can not be continued as has always been so for them.The shape of their tonsure was also at stake! More importantly it had been the cult of the saints that had been their strength and helped see the survival of the British church. Augustine of Canterbury failed but later at the Synod of Whitby(664AD) the conformity with Rome came but in Wales not for another 104 yrs when in 768AD Bp. Elvodug conformed the Welsh church. We have much to draw upon and to learn from in our history. The British Church catholic has always recognised and valued Rome and Peter's successors there. What is our real heritage and destiny? Surely it is obvious!
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
The Homily for Pentecost followed by a musical meditation on Veni Creator by Maurice Durufle which for me exudes and expounds the seven fold gifts of the Spirit especially...Peace.
Homily. Pentecost. Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost or Whitsun on account of the Baptisms in white that are associated with this time. We are in red liturgically today however to mark the coming of the Holy Ghost as tongues of fire on the Apostles. This Holy Spirit is none other than the third person of God the Holy Trinity. When Jesus ascends we are not left desolate or orphaned we have the HS referred to as the Comforter, the Paraclete, The Counsellor, the Advocate who is with us forever. The Holy Spirit first comes to us at our Baptism and remains with us always. He is invoked at Confirmations and Ordinations and at every celebration of the Eucharist. It is God in the third person when invoked that validates the Holy sacraments.
He is referred to in the scriptures and is often represented as wind, fire and as a dove. He is present within us at every waking and sleeping moment, it is through God’s grace that we receive him, we do not earn his presence but rather he is a sign of God’s faithfulness to us and within us. How wonderful this can be for us to know that we are always in receipt of this presence of God. We often refer to this as God’s gift to us the gift of himself the gift of the HS.
In the gospel John tells us that the HS ‘abides with you and he will be in you.’ Also, that ‘He will teach you everything’. And Jesus assures us by telling us ‘do not let your hearts be troubled do not let them be afraid’.
The Church is the bride of Christ and in a special way the Spirit has the church as his domain. Paul says ‘listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches’. In his letter to the church in Galatia in Asia Minor (Turkey) he identifies the gifts of the spirit to those of us in the Church as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Humility, and Self-control. These attributes are those that are needed now in our world, in our lives, in our parish and in our churches today as much as ever.
When we learn in Acts that each was able to understand everyone in their own language we today marvel that the spread of the Christian religion is, through the power of the HS, worldwide. There are Bible translations in hundreds of different languages including the noble and ancient translation into Welsh; where all of us, Ethiopians, Armenians, Slavs, Africans, Spanish speakers, Nordics, Icelanders, Russians, English and Gallic speakers and all sorts, let alone the Medes and the Parthians et al understanding a common Gospel that we read of in Acts when the New Testament is born. All are able to understand the word of God and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Gospel imperative is to again be one, just as God in three persons is one. This can be for us one Church again if we would but release the power of the Holy Spirit which is within each one of us, within me and within you too.
One of the rather odious declarations which the ubiquitous Facebook social web site asks its adherents (and I’m told there are many a Bishop who is a member!) is, are you in a relationship? And then it gives you the box to tick as to your relationship status, single, married, in a relationship and with whom etc. The question we as Christians might ask ourselves today is, irrespective of our personal situation in the world as single, married, widowed, or whatever, what is my relationship with God? If we should want to know that we are valued, comforted, not orphaned or left lonely we could today invoke the power of The Holy Spirit on this His day and change the course of our whole lives and by invoking Him for someone else we know who is in need of God’s love, their whole life too. Am I committed, am I faithful, am I happy to be seen with my beloved? Am I prepared to return the love which is freely given to me? Am I ‘in a relationship’? The one with God which will prove to be the lasting one, the true one, the eternal one which will save me?
The miracle of this Easter season which now draws to a close is that the divine mystery of Father, Son and Holy Spirit can transform, empower and fulfil us as we daily strive to overcome all the vagaries of this transitory life and begin anew to celebrate this gift of new and holy life, to acknowledge this magnificent gift of God the HS.
May His power in the warmth of wind and fire and in the discernment of tongues and in the power of His presence moving in this place and uniting all the churches, give us grace to realise the gifts of joy and peace and love and patience, kindness and goodness now and always, Alleluia! Amen. +