This week we were on a canal boat – a trip auctioned and won by us in a blind bid for the teenage unit of Weston Park Children’s Cancer Hospital in Sheffield. It was a fun time together, with much laughter particularly when we got stuck in the overgrown weed and needed rescuing by canal buffs who acted a tow-horses! We enjoyed brunch and Bucks fizz, but it was our time of worship together that was better than anything!
Different folk brought a contribution. How is it that when we do that there seems the most extraordinary overlap? Grayden began with a reading which resonated with our experience as we travelled along the canal, surrounded by greenery and rapidly changing skies:
Genesis 2:15, The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden….. to work it and take care of it.
Creation is all things and us. It is you and me in relationship with all things. All things, the ones we see and the ones we do not; the whirling galaxies and the element-creating stars. This wonderful, beautiful, water-filled, life-giving Earth. The blue sky, and the grey clouds, sunshine and rain. The mountains and hills, valleys and plains. Surging rivers, still lakes and the restless seas. Micro-organisms, towering trees, waving grasses, and vivid, multicoloured blooms. All the diverse, myriad, teeming, living creatures that share the Earth with us. And all humanity and their children, and their children, and their children, and all who will live on this planet after us, and all who have gone before us.
Rev. 4: 11. You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things……
Rev. 22, 1-2. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life………. and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Rev. 21: 5. Then he who was seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”
Frances reminded us that in the summer we had spoken about the story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with nard. She had some in an aromatherapy bottle and passed it around. We all smelled it and put a little on the back of our hands. It was overpowering! No wonder it says that the aroma filled the house – it certainly filled the boat! It was a symbol of thanksgiving and love and the boat was full of it! And what blew us away is that we were smelling exactly what Jesus smelled then. Wonderful.
Wend shared a poem and thoughts from having discovered poems by Michael Mitton (our friend who likened us to the Celtic saints setting out in their coracles). Jonny Baker has included one of them in his blog and had a link to Michael’s page of poems – which are glorious! The poem about
Brendan really seemed appropriate with us setting off on our boat for the morning.
Brendan was as mad as a bear with toothache
But it was a madness you loved
And you took hold of that old bear
And threw him out to sea
‘Til he returned to land with such a wild tale
That even the priests laughed themselves silly.
The people danced in the surf of Bantry Bay
And a thousand coracles set sail
Into the bright breeze of your Spirit.
O Lord madden me by that same Spirit
Bring on the God-blessed flights of fancy
Inebriate me with Holy Ghost visions
And set me free to behold with the eyes of my heart
Great wonders on the high seas of God.
With the image resonant of us in ThirdSpace, we contemplated where God might be sending us next – as a community as well as individually. Oh to be open to being blown by the Spiriit and finding ourselves in the place where God wants us, to be inebriated with vision…
Michele had a similar and overlapping theme with writings from Sister Sid about the difference between success and fruitfulness and how we might live well, which was very inspiring again.
Barbara led us in prayer, using a net into which we tied ribbons representing our prayers for ourselves and ThirdSpace. The net reminded us how we are all connected – it was a powerful and appropriate image.
We finished with bread and wine, using a liturgy we’ve used before written by Steve:
Divine Entanglement with Bread and Wine
Look up, all around, entangled and surrounded, mind-blowingly all enveloping – God’s breathing, God’s love sweeping down and curling around.
Acknowledged blessing and unacknowledged blessing, love noticed and unnoticed, blessings overt and covert. Incidences and coincidences and God-incidences too complex for us to sort through and untangle. We are caught – in the web. God behind us, God in us, God before us.
Surrounded and enveloped by God’s care, those blessings obvious to us now and those blessings only to be known about in the future and those blessings perhaps never to be known by us.
God at work in us and in those around us and in those we love and in those we despair of. God’s love touching us, our ground, our lives through His humanity and love incarnated in Jesus.
We are surrounded in our space and time by roots, by branches, by leaves, by this living and growing 360 degree, multi-dimensional, 24/7, God who loves. We are not tree hugging, but we are God- hugged.
And so while we are still indifferent, ignorant, hostile, unblissfully unaware, God loves us and in our hands we hold the bread and wine which expresses, encapsulates and enfleshes that Jesus love.
So why us? Why are we invited to this banquet under this umbrella of God’s love? Because we deserve it, merit it, lead good lives and have good theology? No, because God loves because he loves because he loves….
And so together as one body within God’s enveloping, connected with the worldwide family, we eat bread.
And so together as one body within God’s enveloping, connected with the worldwide family, we drink wine.
And so we have communed with God in this banquet but we do not now take our leave of Him. These roots and branches encircle and will not let us go even though we depart from this holy ground. He goes before us, marks our steps and our way.
And so we pray for all:
May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.
Wonderful, wonderful, evocative, poignant, challenging, fun, uplifting – what more could anyone ask for? Thank you all.