MAXIMILIAN’S BAPTISM

THE FULL HOUSE for the joy-filled Baptism of Maximilian this morning gives me (another) opportunity to head up this post with my very favourite account, by a simply wonderful narrator, of Jesus’ Baptism! But more than that, it’s always such a joy when our House for the Church is full of people come to celebrate the goodness of God and the richness of the gifts we revel in. And there’s no greater gift to a family than that of an infant. Nor, perhaps, any greater responsibility laid upon older shoulders. Bringing infants to Baptism in and into the House of the Lord provides glorious opportunity for all of us to reflect upon the giftedness and gratuitousness of our lives, upon our hopes and our aspirations, what – in co-creating with, and in, and surrounded by God – we want to make of our world, our humanity, our society, our church – for Maximilian, for ourselves, and for God.

“I baptise with water”, said John the Baptist. One who will come after me will baptise with Holy Spirit. And so it came to pass. Today and every day humankind is baptised “new every morning” by the Spirit of Divine Grace and Love. Perhaps that’s why Maximilian and his wonderful parents were smiling so much in our sacramental celebration of the fact this morning. Perhaps that’s why people had travelled from far and wide to celebrate the gift and the treasure. Yes! – wherever and whenever humankind is “baptised” in the Spirit of God we can rest assured that the Source of our Life continues to turn the world upside down. “Whoever has seen (this human) me has seen the Father” said the anointed Jesus to Philip. And this morning he might have said “whoever has seen Maximilian has seen the Father”. What a joy, what a commission, what a responsibility – this living of the Life and Love of God in and through each one of us, dear created people.

DIVINE PARENT,
Mother and Father, Sister and Brother of us all,
in company with Jesus,
in the power of your Spirit,
with prophets, priests and royal leaders,
and with every woman, man and child
upon the face of the earth,
we bless you for the gift of life and of abundance.
And as we bless you we also ask
your blessing for ourselves that we may be
inspired, strengthened and encouraged daily
to share that life and that abundance
throughout the world.

SILENT PRESENCE

ANOTHER OF OUR MONTHLY MEDITATION gatherings this evening. There’s a deep silence in the heart of a large gathering when the only sound to be heard is the very occasional creaking of the church roof timbers. And in that silence there’s a oneness to be found with all who gather with us in spirit if not in physical presence. Many here are entering into the deep peace that is to be found in the “silent voice” of God. Shared silence breathes healing into our communion. Gathered before God in silence we may discover again that with only a slight – perhaps whispered – change of inflection our “alone” can be “all-one” …

Father and Mother open my spirit to the Silent Presence of your Spirit. There let me abide, and there may I know your Love. You are Silence and you are Mystery, and silence and mystery in prayer shall lead me to you, in and after the example of Jesus, and all who pray in your Spirit. Father and Mother of our lives. Come.

BLESS MY CHILD

A woman and her malnourished child in Banadir hospital in Mogadishu. Photo Reuters

ARCHBISHOP ROWAN spoke to the recent General Synod of the Church of England of his experiences in Eastern Congo:

Two weeks ago in Eastern Congo, listening to the experiences of young men and women who had been forced into service with the militias in the civil wars, forced therefore into atrocities done and suffered that don’t bear thinking about, I discovered all over again why the Church mattered. One after another, they kept saying, ‘The Church didn’t abandon us.’

The Archbishop is a shining example of a pastor continually willing to “discover all over again”. God knows how much we all need to. In common with many a clerical household, I guess, Church Times is usually to be found on or near the kitchen table in this vicarage. Mealtimes this week have therefore been especially chastened experiences. What, I’ve wondered, is this young mother praying for herself and her (beautiful) hungry little one?

And the hand of blessing laid with love upon the heads of beautiful, well cared for, well fed little ones in Bramhall Parish Church this morning was warm with desire to bless the mother and her child in this photograph – and the countless mothers, fathers and children who share their desperate plight, praying for the impossible, whilst laying-on their own tender hands of blessing. God help us: I’ve thought a thousand times this week that this madonna and her child in Mogadishu were praying together once in Bethlehem.

And the weeping for the children in Norway today is heard all around the world. Christopher Burkett has written, too, in that tragic context, about why the Church matters. God help us to widen our vision: to sing fewer songs of rejoicing in our own perceptions of personal salvation until we’re a bit surer in our hearts and minds that salvation has to be extended to each and all – or it is no salvation. Whilst I thank God for “looking after” me I must heed the Divine call to play my own part in “looking after” others. For each and every child of God is intended to be provided with a Bethlehem home, a House of Bread.

I pray for the day when, for God’s sake, sectarian divisions and some of the more nuanced religious certainties – of whatsoever religious tradition (or none) – may be set aside in favour of the one really important certainty, the one really important bit of “gospel” that Jesus alluded and alludes to again and again and again – that in the heart of God, at the heart of Life, the mother and her child in this photograph, and the hurting and grieving souls in Norway, and in every other nation under the sun, are of absolutely equal importance. With Archbishop Rowan I “discovered again” this morning why the Church matters, and why all men and women of goodwill, all over the world, matter: Christian Aid emergency envelopes “sold” like hotcakes, thank God, and we sang “We have a dream” with vigour. Dear God in heaven, help us to dream big … and to plant mustard seeds of faith and hope and real practical love wherever and whensoever we can.

52 IS NOT OLD … ? :(

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FIFTY TWO AND FEELING IT today; but people are so immensely kind, and the love and greetings showered upon me are, every single one of them, both appreciated and immensely touching. One of the birthday cards, featuring “Rainbow Painting”, 1996, by Norman Adams RA, is wonderfully striking. As is the text on the back of the card:

Art has always been related to Spirituality. I cannot conceive of art without it – Norman Adams RA

Exactly. Just exactly. Covenant. Rainbow. Promise. And my mother is adamant that 52 is not old. Still in need of an early night though! Sweet dreams dear world, and thank you, family and friends x 🙂

THE SHADOW OF THY WING


house martin young under the shadow of mother's wing

KEEP ME AS THE APPLE OF AN EYE. Hide me under the shadow of thy wing – from the Office of Compline or Night Prayer. The Prime Minister speaks of a long, hard summer ahead for those engaged in service in Afghanistan and elsewhere. O Lord, come the day quickly when every soul on earth may pray: hide me (and all my brothers and sisters) under the shadow of thy wing.