Lindisfarne comes to the bandstand!

Steve and I were just back from Northumbria and brought some shells from Holy Island to facilitate our worship. It was COLD, so we spent just 15 minutes outdoors and did the rest at Cool River.

We began using a meditation from the brilliant David Adam as we walked around the park trying to look with new eyes at the beauty of our surroundings (in the Celtic tradition) saying over and over:

You, Lord, are in this place.
Your presence fills it.
Your presence is peace.
You, Lord, are in this place.
Your presence fills it.
You, Lord are in this place.
You, Lord, are.
You, Lord.

Each had chosen a shell and carried it, symbolically connecting with our brothers Aidan and Cuthbert who loved the sea and stones and shells or Lindisfarne and found God in their surroundings – as we do.

Back at the bandstand we considered how opening our eyes to encountering God in the world around us can open our expectations and awareness of things we might not otherwise have noticed. On one occasion Cuthbert tended to a very weary traveller and urged him to stay to eat, saying that the bread was not long from coming out of the oven… He went to pray and brought the bread only to find the young man vanished and no footsteps in the snow. On entering the storehouse to put away the table, he found three steaming loaves of unusual whiteness awaiting him. He had thought to feed a stranger but was fed himself.

So, in memory of Cuthbert and all our brothers and sisters who are no doubt cheering us on in finding new ways to encounter God, we shared bread – three warm rolls from the oven, and then wine.

In the warmth of the café we heard stories of Cuthbert’s other encounters with angels and I shared two ideas that had come to me regarding these stories and all my reading about these Celtic saints.

1. In Rob Bell’s ‘Everything is spiritual’ he says ‘What you look for you will find’ – if we choose to live as if there is no intervention of God in our world and if we see with those eyes, that is what we will see. If we ask God to open our eyes to the wonders of this world that speak of him, we can see things we would otherwise miss. The Celtic tradition is about reading the world, looking for God in his creation, expecting to encounter him using the five-stringed harp in all activities.
2. Our recent thinking about the kingdom of God seems to tie in with this. Stories about Cuthbert about angels or of unexpected things happening could be dismissed as exaggerations (what you look for you will find) or we could say, it’s just an extension of looking for the kingdom being at work here – of the kingdom breaking through in thin places and thin moments. Isn’t that what we pray for?

So, to prayer.
We put our shells on the café table and shared people and situations  that needed our prayers – who needed that thinness of Lindisfarne and of Aidan and Cuthbert, to allow God’s work to break into their situations… Then  I commissioned the shells, so to speak, with the  following words and we took our shells away for the rest of the week:

May these shells bear witness to these prayers in this coming week. May they remind us that thin moments and events happen! And may they challenge us to be like our brothers who loved Holy Island, who loved the sea and stones and sand and shells, in reminding us to have open eyes to see God and his kingdom all around us in the coming week.

Finally we were set homework: To try out a prayer of Cuthbert once this week. Pray standing with your arms outstretched in the position of the cross and see how you want to pray as you do. Join us?