This Sunday we basked in the sheer beauty of nature around us as we reminded ourselves just who God is and who we are – using these words:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good
His love endures forever.
The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it
Who can compare to our God?
In this sacred space we affirm our faith
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
Know that the LORD is God
It is he who made us and we are his.
For he knows how we were formed
He remembers that we are dust.
After reading Exodus 17:8-13, the story of Moses’ hands being held aloft, we remembered that we are called to support one another in our prayers, that is, to pray for one another and to help each other to pray. This is something we do in one way every Lent and Advent, when we do a ‘secret Santa’ prayer partnering – praying for a particular person in ThirdSpace daily throughout the season. With the wider calling in mind, we used the following circling prayers, passing a ball of string around as we named people and situations that we wanted to support.
Encircle those caught in conflict and suffering… Keep hope within. Keep defeat out.
Encircle those who are troubled… Keep peace within. Keep distress out.
Encircle those who are grieving… Keep comfort within. Keep despair out.
Encircle those we love… Keep love within. Keep division out.
Circle us Lord… Keep faith within. Keep apathy out.
In Lenten tradition, we focussed on confession and repentance, borrowing a Jewish new year custom known as Tashlikh in which crumbs of bread are cast into water, as a symbol of sins being cast away, recalling Micah 7:19 “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”.
We walked to the bridge over the river reading silently the following words that we have used in the past about fasting from discontent and feasting on gratitude etc
We then spoke the words of Psalm 130 and cast our bread. Dramatically and rather beautifully, gleaming white gulls swooped down and devoured the bread – St Francis would have loved that!
I couldn’t quite capture the scene with the birds due to the strong sunlight on the water… Back at the bandstand we shared bread and wine, saying
We eat this bread as a sign of our forgiveness.
Jesus our salvation!
For your embracing love
a Father’s love
a Mother’s love
The love that sees our failings
and forgives us
The love that sees our joys
and embraces us
The love that knows no ending
The love that could die for us
We bless you.
Jesus we bless you! (Words from www.faithandworship.com)
We concluded our time there with these final words:
We have reflected on our own weaknesses and on the frailty of others. Jesus says ‘Go and sin no more’
So we go, no longer accusing ourselves of sins that have been forgiven
Nor condemning others for the sins that God has forgiven them.
As receivers of God’s grace
We ask for help to be grace-givers in the week ahead.
In the name of Christ – Amen.
From there to the café where we almost stayed till closing time – noon – with wonderful and rich conversation, covering an unprecedented range of topics ranging from Upstairs Downstairs and the politics of the day, the reigns of Stephen and Maud in the Middle Ages (I ask you!), Six Nations rugby, glass making, pigeon Spanish, how to get Whisky prescribed on the NHS and I don’t know what else! I know that I am amongst all people richly blessed to be part of ThirdSpace – thank you everyone for a special morning!