This was sent to me and I thought it was rather wonderful considering the gloomy times we are having – a real alternative Lent … with nothing about chocolate. Have a great Ash Wednesday.
Ann Atkins spoke on Thought for the Day this morning (26th) and talked of her father‘s death and the terrible trimming down of the celebration of his life in the face of our present restrictions. She also remembered her mother who frequently quoted St. Paul’s axiom, “And we know that all things work together for good to those that love God and are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Ann made clear that this perception was not cheap grace, but a place of faith in the face of real difficulty. It is so easy to be trite or to read the world through rose tinted spectacles. Life is always difficult but at the present there is a peculiar strain which has been added by the presence of the coronavirus. COVID-19 has yet to hit us with its full force – pray God that we don’t have to face that. Nonetheless when it comes, there will be those and those whom we love who struggle and we will be far from them and it will be easy to lose hope and find anxieties crowding in.
Let us determine not just to ‘be calm and carry on’ but to raise our heads and remember that this too will pass and that good will come out of it. Already we have seen great kindness shown by neighbours and a readiness by the government to act to help those in distress and need. The papers may try to drag us down into snide cynicism or sharp criticism, offering the advice of a backseat driver. Yet we can be generous to those in the thick of decisions. We can pray for those around us. We can volunteer to help locally, with the Abbey and Mandy or with HEALS – as so many have done for the NHS. Let us trust in God and that He will lead us through this storm to a safe harbour.
Think are looking forward and it is worth remembering that this weekend the clocks go forward by one hour.
As we look forward let us remember that this will pass and that we will have a party to celebrate – in the summer sunshine we pray!
As we look forward we will celebrate Easter not together in the Abbey but on the Internet and linking home to home and family to family and person-to-person. Isolation will not have the last word nor this wretched virus.
So watch this space ….. For we know that all things work together for good to those that love God and are the called according to his purpose.
May God keep and bless you all
“The church is re-inventing itself,” says the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Lenten prayer for this week is written by Trappist monk Thomas Merton. It is from fromThoughts in Solitude (1958).
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
And here is a link to a choral setting of that prayer by Ysaye Barnwell, entitled “Tango with God.” It is performed in this video by the Minneapolis vocal ensemble Cantus.