United Benefice of Morton and Stonebroom with Shirland


The Joy of the Journey

Last week I was privileged to be part of the school end of term and prize-giving services held in St Leonard’s. It was an occasion for a mix of emotions: pride in the recipients of the awards; the excitement of moving on to new schools; trepidation for the same reason; sadness at the parting of old friends and the anticipation of making new ones. In all this, I spoke to the children about all life being made up of constantly new beginnings. Also, the analogy of the Christian concept of pilgrimage. Crucially, in that analogy there are three vital components. First, that the emphasis is very much on the journey rather that the ultimate destination. Secondly, that it is a collective experience; and thirdly that the emphasis is on savouring the now.

That latter point is so important. However, in the wider scale of contemporary society, the concept of the now, and experiencing and savouring the now, is frequently lost. So often we see in services such as baptisms or weddings, the overriding preoccupation with taking pictures and videos, imminently to be emailed to friends and colleagues or circulated through social media. The experience of the moment is being sacrificed to the agenda of the future. Similarly, how sad that on a beautiful Spring morning with the new-born lambs in the field, the children at the bus stop are glued to their i-phones, earphones making them oblivious to the wonder of what is going on around them; as well as negating interaction with each other.

I believe that we have to rediscover the joy of living in the now. Quite simply, the now is God-given, for that is where he truly dwells and works in and through the lives of the faithful, as we interact with those around us. It is also where we meet him in our prayer lives; and nowhere is this more so than at the Eucharist. Here, we meet the Real Presence as both sacrificial victim and great high priest. (In acknowledgement of which we have the two candles on the altar, symbolising each.) And in meeting him in the now of the Eucharist, we offer him not just our praise and thanksgiving, but we receive pardon and forgiveness, healing and importantly, strength. We say that the whole of the following week flows out from the Eucharist. And that matter of receiving strength is so important, particularly in our secular age. So it is that the Communion service in The Book of Common Prayer contains the following: ‘Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him,’ etc. The matter of ‘comfort’ has nothing to do with cozy. The emphasis is on the second syllable: comfort as in fortress. And so, having met Christ in the now of the Eucharist, we can carry him with us into the now of our daily lives. The now is precious. Now is every moment in all our pilgrimages, regardless of content or experience. The future is for the future.

With every blessing,

Fr Chris

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