Plough Sunday and crossing thresholds

It was a crisp sunny morning at the bandstand and everything I had was from or inspired by ‘The Celtic Wheel of the Year’ by Tess Ward. We took a moment to be still and began with the words:

Blessed be you, Keeper of our past, Guider of our stories, Holder of our future.

The first Sunday after Epiphany in the Celtic year was known as Plough Sunday, when priests blessed ploughs. The next day, Plough Monday was a day of rowdy celebrations with men dressing up, performing plays and asking for donations towards a feast.  A refusal could lead to damage to property by the plough! The ploughing season began then and, just as now, people return to work after the Christmas break. Some of us were in that place of having returned to work – others of us were not – so what might this new start mean for all of us?

On the handouts we considered the following words:

January is seen as a time of journeys – of crossing over boundaries into new places. We meet in the “now and not yet” and at the crossing point of our hope and our present reality. It is a season of reflection on the past and discerning the future, of placing trust, of following our longing and taking the first footstep from the known and familiar into unchartered territory. The Epiphany story reminds us that God’s love is revealed when people cross the threshold from known places and follow a star to who knows what.

We read the story of the visiting Magi, crossing the threshold to encounter Christ and then walked with some questions and a prayer and an image of a threshold, with the invitation to write about situations and people who are facing uncertain futures on the left of the threshold and pray about the as yet unknown side.

  • What threshold may be in front of me at the start of this year?
  • What new things might await me this year that I long for or fear?
  • What would be good for me to leave behind and what new things to embrace?

Spirit Weaver go before me to be my guide

And with the gentlest fingers

Untangle the old and the unfinished

and weave their ends into the next step

As directions change

And the cloth feels new and strange.

We returned to pray – for those in Gaza, held hostage by Hamas, for the people of Yemen and Middle East in geberal, for the people of Taiwan post election and for the UK and US facing elections this year, as well as for one another and those known to us. We recognised that we cannot influence world affairs in the main but are called to be the body of Christ where we are placed…

Embodied God,

On the ladder between the home of heaven and earth’s dwelling place,

The crack between the worlds,

A baby journeyed,

Belonging to both.

Come embodied love:

To our hands that our touch might soothe;

To our ears that we might receive words of kindness;

To our bellies that we might have courage to go beyond;

To our journeys that we might be aware of a purpose;

To our feet that we might always treasure the earth that supports us;

To our hearts that we might live for more than ourselves.

Come embodied love

Walk with us in our travelling this year.


Steve had written words for the sharing of bread and wine:

This Epiphany, as we meet around bread and wine,

Untangle that which is old and unfinished and that which is frayed and broken,

And reconfigure our faith-threads so that we might journey across this threshold with purpose.

Bring Peace to the world and make us peace-makers.

Bring Justice to the world and make us justice-workers.

Bring light to the world and make us artists and prophets.

Bring the embodied Love of Jesus to our world day by day.

For our story concerns the refugee baby, the immigrant Jesus, the vulnerable traveller,

 Who died for us.

The Bread of the Kingdom.

The Wine of the Kingdom.


We finsished with this blessing:

May the God who hangs her star over unexpected places

Lure us to the place we need to be,

Where new things happen

And we have to return home by a different way.

Thanks to Tess Ward for the inspiration for everyone for joining forces to cross those thresholds together in faith and hope.