All cracked up

There are cracks everywhere: in the ceiling and the arches, in the earth, in the institutions, in the people.
And our response to these cracks: we keep Lent again. We tell each story as if for the first time. We count each encounter.
Listen with the ear of your heart: Benedict begins The Rule that way. It’s simple enough.
Jesus goes up a mountain. Heaven breaks through. There are cracks but they can be filled with light and glory: remember.
And then he comes down. It is not the end of the story. Even if it is a good reason for going up mountains it is not a good enough reason never to come down again.
At the bottom of the mountain, I am still drawn there, to another encounter. This one counts for me. The excluded child and family; feared and fearful. Both faith and doubt need help: both have their cracks. The listening one listens and another glory fills the fragile lives of that family.
The story does not end there. More cracks to come, and more glory. As the sun streamed into the Abbey church later many of the cracks were filled with warm coloured light from the windows. Jesus: everything he’s cracked up to be.

In our life and our believing

The love of God

JAL 17.03.2019

Ampleforth Abbey

With Arms Open

Arms open, ready
To catch, to hold, to welcome:
Arms open, face smiling.

Arms open,
You welcome;
You welcome me.

Arms open:
My mouth is open
In amazement.

Arms open:
There in the darkness
Your arms are open.

JAL 16.03.2019
Experience before vespers,
Ampleforth Abbey Crypt

Gareth: When the rain came down

Somewhere it is happening:
Rain is falling in fine mist or wind blown sheets,
In cats and dogs and straight stair rods,
It is wetting, damping, soaking,
It is filling, mudding, flowing.
This time it is Gareth,
Knocking at the door,
The pitter patter of hail like fingernails on the window,
The drone of the wind like the howl of all the wild things
From here to the Atlantic Ocean.
This is just the front passing through:
The back will be along later.

JAL 12.03.2019

Gareth is the name of a storm

Soaked

As the snow flakes began to whirl along the valley my head cleared. It came into focus for me that the snow flakes outside were mirroring the same white out in my head. From time to time, although generally less tired, my brain still fogs over and I stop being able to read what’s in front of me or concentrate on anything. Then I sleep.


I’ve realised long before this that there are very many shades of tired. I’ve not got them plotted out but this sort of tired is different from some others sorts I’ve known.
Yesterday I got soaked. It really rained hard. I took the opportunity to try out some of my outdoor gear both old and new in advance of the walk that I plan to start at the end of the month. The rain rolled off my new jacket in droplets and pooled in the turn ups of my older too long waterproof trousers. Useful if you want to take your goldfish for a walk (as in the song ‘How much is that doggy in the window? ‘). You can make a handy temporary water filled refuge in your turn ups.
But it was the downpour that interested me. Two weeks ago in North Wales we were basking in extraordinary high temperatures for the time of year. Coed-y-Bleiddiau, the place we stayed, nestled in a section of temperate rain forest but when we arrived it was very very dry. Dead leaves caught up in last years brambles and bracken, dead wood cracking under foot, dust dry paths: it was not how a rain forest might be imagined. It was worrying.
Towards the end of the week, the high temperatures chased away, rain washed in. After a couple of days the rain, the forest did begin to breathe more deeply. Clouds hugged the hills and raindrops dripped from bare branches. Little rivulets began to run downhill gathering up the dead leaves and wood and dust. The paths began to get damp, and even sticky with mud. The water was gently soaking in.
The woodland needs the rain. It needs a lot of it to return it to its temperate rain forest status. So too, I need a good soaking.

In our life and our believing
The love of God

JAL 10.03.2019

Ashes

Ashes,
Spread across the hillside,
Result of a wildfire that raged for several days:
My neighbour’s husband was one who fought it.

Ashes
Crumbled in the fireplace,
A hearth at the heart of the home,
Welcome to an everyday warming place.

Ashes,
Blessed to be a sign,
Marking each person who comes
Looking to renew their relationship with the Holy One.

Ashes,
For you and me,
Marking us out as travellers,
Ready for the Lent journey in the company of the Living One.

JAL 06.03.2019
Ash Wednesday 2019

Evening Prayer in Huddersfield

This is our last evening in Huddersfield after 10 years in the town.

Reflection
Grey stones, piled one on another:
Signs of past grandeur.
Statues of former heroes,
A train station that’ll have you going places.
A ring of supermarkets,
Each one vying to be brighter than the next.
A football team, at the bottom of the top flight,
Yet yearning to stay up and play the game.

Remembered bible
God is our strength and refuge,
A present help in trouble.
When God is with us we shall not be overcome.
Be still and know your Creator.

Prayers for Huddersfield
Standing on Castle hill on Good Friday each year local Christians pray for the town. Bob wrote a prayer often used there: God bless Huddersfield.
God bless Huddersfield.
Guide its people and keep them safe.
Where there is stress, bring healing.
Where there is enmity, bring peace.
Where jobs are in danger, bring security.
Where people work too hard, bring rest.
Let your faith fill this town,
Let your hope inspire this town,
Let your love enfold this town.
God bless Huddersfield.
Amen.

(Copyright Bob Warwicker)

Duet: A song for Simeon and Anna
Holy One, now may your servants go in peace
According to your promise,
For we have seen the signs you have provided,
That light the way for all who seek you,
And we have pointed to them faithfully,
For every generation.

Glory, Glory, Glory,
Creator, Son, Spirit,
Amen, Amen, Amen.

JAL 04.03.2019
Bob has been minister of the Waverley Group of Churches. His own blog is at

http://bobjanet.org.uk/bobsblog/

Evening Prayer from Coed-y-Bleiddiau

As the wind howls around the Wolf woods
Rain peppers the windows
And the fireplace is cold:
It’s time to bring the prayers of today together.
Let us be still.

Reflection 

There was a walk downhill in the woods,
Rain gradually soaking into the green,
Drips on the bare birch branches like fairy lights.
Then there was a walk back up again.

Remembered bible
I look up at the hills
And wonder where I will get help.
God is always on hand
To help and to hold
The whole created order.

Prayers
For Sunday workers and Sunday work;
For Sunday resters and Sunday rest;
For players and pray-ers, singers and sayers;
For order and disorder, both that created by God
And that which we make.
Holy One, hear us:
Listen as you listen to each drop of rain falling in the forest.

Magnificat
Growing bigger God, expanding in me as in the whole universe,
How happy your presence makes me,
That you have chosen me for this uplifting moment.
I see you put down the rich and proud.
I see you raise up the poor and humble:
It keeps happening.
One generation after another you keep faith with us
May we, your yes filled ones, keep faith with you.

Glory, Glory, Glory
Creator, Son, Spirit,
Amen, Amen, Amen

JAL 03.03.2019

Coed-y-Bleiddiau is a cottage available for rent from The Landmark Trust.

Evening Prayer from Roman Steps

We drove up to Cwm Bychan on a steep narrow road out of Harlech. At the end of the blunt valley is the path called Roman Steps. It is this path I am thinking of this evening.

Chant
Lead me Lord,
Lead me in your righteousness.
Make your way straight before my face.

Reflection
Mossy places, fungi too,
Sheep nibbling, lichens spreading,
And then the steps,
Dark grey slabs mostly,
Stretching up into the hillside.
One or two are differently patterned;
An orange banded one caught my eye.
Then the small bridges:
Some made of flat slabs,
Others small humped stone structures.
We ascended to just before the lip of the pass
And the returned, tired but wiser.

Remembered bible
There are many references to the Roman Empire in the Bible. Think of some of your favourites.
Here are some of mine from chapter 8 of the letter to the Romans. I say it at every funeral service I lead. I like to think of those early Christians in Rome hearing it read to them for the first time. Amazing stuff!

What, then, shall we say in response to all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or the sword?

No, in all these things we are always victorious through him who loved us.  I remain completely convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day

We pray for those who long for the day to end, for something unjust to end, for something hurtful to end.
May peace and hope be shared amongst us.

Nunc dimitiss
Holy God, now let your weary servant go in peace.
Your promise to see the hope and love you have prepared for us has been kept.
It is wonderful indeed. Like a light: glorious in every way to those who embrace your kindom.

Glory, Glory, Glory
Creator, Son and Spirit,
Amen, Amen, Amen.

JAL 02.03.2019

It is not clear if the Roman Steps at the end of Cwm Bychan are really Roman, or just old. There’s a description here

https://www.cantab.net/users/michael.behrend/aw_cuttings/ocr/p_042.html


I particularly like the comparison to a Japanese landscape.
Bob may write about the same walk here

http://bobjanet.org.uk/bobsblog/