Three Pillars of Anglicanism.

If I were going to preach a traditional sermon, then I might tell you that  Matthew 13. 1-9, 18-23 displays the three pillars of Anglicanism. Scriture. Tradition. Reason.
But I don’t often preach traditional Sermons. I do want to talk about seed, soil and roots which are I suppose the same thing as Scripture, Tradition and Reason. Yesterday was St. Swithin’s day. And the film which came out of the box last night was One Day – because it is only the events of St. Swithin’s day that we get to see. One day each year for twenty years. It is a beautiful film with a wonderful soundtrack. If we believe st. Swithun’s lore we can expect another forty days of mist and rain. as the proverb goes: St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain For forty days it will remain St Swithun’s day if thou be fair For forty days ’twill rain nae mare Or: If on St Swithun’s day it really pours You’re better off to stay indoors. But I’ve not mentioned the film to talk about the weather. It’s a film about seed, soil and roots and it is written how we read our gospels – in snapshots. This is much how our Gospels are written, dipping in and out of the events and lives of Jesus and his companions.  In One Day we move from terrible London flats smelling of onions to awful post university jobs in restaurants and television.  From meetings in France to returning to the family home. From difficult conversations with parents to distant answer phone messages.  Missed calls and missed opportunities.  From new jobs, to new boyfriends.  From bad jobs to car crash employment.  Terrible live television to all star school plays.  Rows in restaurants to dead end relationships.  Break downs and making up to put downs and pick me ups.  By the end we are left with two people who we know so very well and who ought to be so very right for one another.  They are comfortable with each other, though not always comforting.  Our patience with their painfully slow coming together is rewarded with a romantic liaison in Paris, the wedding, plans for children of their own.  The dream is unfolding, and then, we ought to expect it as in many romantic stories but we don’t, it is cut short. Where there was a comforting voice there is now silence.  Where there was a companion there is now an empty chair.  Where there was a loving caress there is nothing.  And our Gospels have taken us on a whirlwind snapshot tour from a backstreet birth, refugees travelling the road, baptisms, weddings, funerals, confrontations, healings and reconciliations. The seed is planted at the beginning and it takes time to develop. It needs to put down roots in order to be fed, and it needs a heart of understanding, the soil, for it to be truly grounded. Eventually the film One Day brings us to that place where the heart is ready, the roots are sure and the seed has matured. Is it too late for Dexter and Emma each st Swithun’s day to flourish? Is it too late for us to fall in love again with the story of Jesus. We don’t fall in love with an idea, we fall in love with a person, we take them into our heart and let the roots go deep down. Therein lies our problem. And the film one day offers a solution… We have to live as if Jesus were still here as if he were around the next corner, in the face of the stranger, the friend, those at our work, in our homes. We need to fill in the gaps for ourselves taking the cues from the seeds of scripture we have and building a picture of the kingdom that Jesus taught. This is our tradition. At its best it provides the roots we need to be strong, but without a heart in which to plant, we have nothing to grow. Our challenge is to begin afresh with the seed once again, for sadly it has lay dormant in soil which has had no great depth and with roots which have often been cut off.

Church Closed. Graveyard Open.
Are only the dead welcome now?
Standing in the quiet hills life around
begins to emerge, or perhaps I being still
of heart become aware of its presence.
Amongst the flourishing grasses unknown
wild flower seeds have come and put down
their roots over which the occasional visitor treads.
The walls of grey stone sit silently here.
Songs once from within at an end.
Yet here outwith the walls there is a
full chorus as life takes back this ancient
space. And worship begins as we let it grow
within a heart that sings once again of love
and beauty. Wild, untamed, open and free.

Celebration, Lament and Hope

These are the three things that Ian Bradley in Colonies of Heaven says that we need to do in worship suggesting that:

We need above all to have more sense of heaven in our worhip and to make the places where worship, whether churches or homes, colonies of heaven in which earth and heaven meet, the glory shines through the grey, ordinary things are rendered extraordinary and hope keeps breaking through.  Then perhaps people will come to worship with a sense of excitement and expectancy rather than out of a sense of duty.

Stirring Stuff…

Lament and Rejoice

My offering for tomorrow, reflection on a year past and hope for a brighter one to come!

To lament a leaf…

How empty stands the winter tree,
once with a canopy full of leaves.
How bare you are without adornments,
No green covering to shade and protect.

You wept bitterly in the early autumn sun,
As golden leaves turned from the sky and fell to earth.
Your glorious array of colour, vibrant life,
dropped away to leave stark winter branches.

Clinging to the last of them as a mother clings to her children,
Grieving for the splendour of your, once, majestic arches,
Now standing alone, bleak and bereft.
Mourning the life that stood proud in the sun.

Your splendour, once in golden leaf,
has become desolate and black,
carpeting the earth with mildew,
A spreading blanket of decay.

Once life giving, energy changing,
capturing, receiving and pouring out.
Now lying still, lifeless, the last goodness
leaching out into the damp soil beneath.

In despair you stand at the end of winter,
the last clutches of frost at the tips of your branches.
Silent now, rejected by your beloved.
Small tendrils of mist rising to meet the warming sun.

… is to rejoice in new-birth

Come and see what death has become,
bend low and take in the stench of decay.
The warmth in the blanket of leaves,
New life nestling in the carpet of detritus.

A green finger rising through the warm earth,
pointing towards the empty canopy which gave it life.
A shoot emerging from hibernation
growth in the midst of the chaos.

The leaves that died here left their legacy,
of goodness and nutrients.
One life given up for the good of another,
a completion of the story of all that lives.

Slowly the old tree feels the warmth in her roots,
the familiar tingling of sap rising.
A glimmer of memory that is behind and before;
The sticky sweet buds that bear the new hope.

The last song of the dying leaf was not its golden colours,
it is the bright, vibrant green of new growth.
A winter of despondency, gives way to the spring of rejoicing,
The new canopy is reborn rising majestically from the ashes of the last.