‘You are not alone’. The message on the card was destined for an unknown recipient inserted into a box of gifts for refugees. We gathered clothes, toys and other items at the feast of Christ the king. It is the end of another liturgical year. I’m reminded of the song: ‘Nothing ever happens’ by Glasgow based band Del Amitri. Particularly the line, ‘the needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along as before.’ But not this year. Our song had become dull, ‘How are we to sing the Lord’s song in this strange land?’ Del Amitri’s song has a darker side than a record player (what are those?) with an automatic return. Words from the song which you might reflect on about the loneliness and sadness of life: ‘And we’ll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow.’ But it goes on: ‘And bill holdings advertise products that nobody needs While angry from Manchester writes to complain about All the repeats on T.V. And computer terminals report some gains On the values of copper and tin While American businessmen snap up Van Goghs For the price of a hospital wing.’ There’s more here than being lonely during the long winter nights. I hear a critique of a world cut off from the rest and missing the connections which is why a simple child’s card written with the message ‘you are not alone’ struck me so much as an important thing to tell those to whom these things will go. Our song brightens as the message says: ‘We hear you’, ‘we see you’, and I would add, despite what some members of our government says and what you might read in some papers: ‘we believe your lives are worthy too.’ – It is a beautiful message of hope at a moment when the world is preparing for what could be for many the greatest festival of loneliness. And the song of the strange land of no borders, no limits, where all are welcomed in and valued begins to shine again. Before we prepare to sing along as before in our Advent preparations next week, we take a moment to reflect – difficult I know in these times. But we ought to. Reflect on the year past from birth to epiphany revelation to lent, betrayal, Easter resurrection. From the Spirit at Pentecost to the Trinity season, creation, harvest and Kingdom. Such is our christian year. Each time we go around, perhaps we go a little deeper, see a little more, learn something new, become people more attuned to the kingdom. As we gathered, collected, sorted and boxed up the gifts along with good wishes in cards we celebrate the kingdom of God and participate in its coming. The simple sentiment offering hope to those whose life has dealt them, a bitter pill it would seem, if you were to compare it to the lives lived by the two thirds world. The generosity of our communities of donated gifts for those who most desperately need them is wonderful. It is not without a small irony – that we didn’t need these things anyway and of course for those who did donate it was probably a little cathartic, purging our wardrobes of that which we seldom wear. Did you know we were celebrating the feast of Christ the king with a refugee clothes gathering party – or did you think we were just gathering clothes. You’d be mistaken for thinking it was just the latter, for who would suppose that such a simple act could be a celebration of Christ’s Kingdom? Did Christ not compel us to clothe the naked and feed the hungry?
Cysgir natur, daw’r tywyllwch
Rhwng bywydau daearol a dragwyddol
Tenau’r fêl gwawn
Nature sleeps, the dark comes
Between temporal and eternal worlds
The veil thins to gossamer.
Today we celebrate ‘Lammas’. It marks the beginning of Harvest, traditionally the wheat harvest. Lammas means Loaf Mass. At the beginning of the harvest the workers would gather, bake a loaf of bread with the first cut of the harvest and offer it at the Mass as a thanksgiving for the years growth. It was an offering to God of the first cut of the harvest in recognition of God’s provision. However we see it, it is still good to bake a loaf and share it, giving thanks for the Bread for Today. So that’s what we did yesterday. Among friends and gathered around an open fire we took a simple bread dough wrapped it around a stick and baked it over the flames. Watching the dough rise and cook in the fire we told each other stories about bread. Bread for today, the bread that sustains us and the bread of life. The story of the Israelites receiving manna in the desert, bread from heaven, bread, just for today tested them. Were they willing to put their faith in God? Would they gather more than a day’s bread? There are many lessons here about taking our daily share and leaving the rest for others, a lesson I rather feel we’ve often overlooked with supermarket shelves packed full – perhaps the shelves being less than full these past months might begin to teach something about abundance. At Lammas, we take a simple loaf of bread to ask a blessing and say – today I am okay. Let tomorrow worry about itself. The Bread of life for today. If we are willing to accept it, then it means giving up all of our needs and wants into God’s hands and living a strangely simple life. Live simply so that others may simply live. Jesus says that those who follow in his path will never hunger nor thirst. I believe that means more than hungry for food. Jesus reprimands those who follow him after eating the loaves and fishes. This is not what he means at all – no wonder we see Jesus take himself away from the crowds before and after these encounters. Even when the people experience God they don’t understand it, they just remember being fed. We share more than just a piece of bread when we gather, we share bread broken, symbolic of the brokenness of our lives and the life of Jesus broken for the life of the world. Unless the bread is broken it cannot be shared. As we gather we share in each others brokenness and slowly we can be made whole once again. As Richard Rohr says “We live in a finite world where everything is dying, shedding its strength. This is hard to accept, and all our lives we look for exceptions to it. We look for something certain, strong, undying, and infinite. Religion tells us that the “something” for which we search is God. But many of us envisioned God as strong, complete, and all-powerful—a God removed from suffering. In Jesus, God comes along to show us: “Even I suffer. Even I participate in the finiteness of this world.””1 We can have the life abundant if we are willing to refocus ourselves onto the path that Jesus trod. Yesterday we baked a small loaf over an open fire to remind us of the Bread for today. Here we will remember God’s blessings given through Jesus as we partake of the Eucharist bread, broken for the life of the world. Later, at Llanrhychwyn We’ll share bread for the journey – bread for today, the bread of life that sustains us.