Thursday, 21 February 2008

Turn Again.

I found this short sermon which I gave last year at a quiet day for a nearby Parish. I delivered it during early morning Mass before we began the day 'proper'. It has spurred me on to write this Sundays sermon, which I am distracting myself from doing as we speak!

Although I do not hope to turn again

Although I do not hope

Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss

In this brief transit where the dreams cross

The twilight between birth and dying

(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things

From the wide window towards the granite shore

The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying

Unbroken wings.

This is the time of tension between dying and birth

The place of solitude where dreams cross

Between two shores,

But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away

Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Bless├Ęd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,

Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood

Teach us to care and not to care

Teach us to sit still

Even among these doubts,

Our peace in His will.

Sister, mother

And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,

Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

TS Eliot wrote Ash Wednesday, the quintessential Lenten poem at a time of great emotional upheaval for himself. Lent is a time of upheaval for us all, for the individual and the whole of creation. We are all looking for the meaning, the clarity of vision which Jesus had as He journeyed through the days before His death. We need to ask ourselves what we want and what we are truly looking for. Those of us who are on Lenten fasts need to ask ourselves what we are genuinely hungry for, what creates the emptiness we feel inside. This is a time, as Eliot said, when we dare not hope to turn to the light. It is still cold and the ground is still hard, but the daffodils are coming up, ready to open their golden carpet for the risen Lord. The birds are practicing their new songs and the trees are forming buds, all creation is anticipating the coming of the King. Except us, for our lives are busy and our attention spans short. We, the ones to whom God calls at this time of year, ‘come back to me with all your heart!’ we need to respond obediently and joyfully. We need to see more clearly and love God more dearly, to be aware of His individual and collective plan, to see our place in the holistic, perfect plan God has for all humanity and to thank God for fitting us in, not to fit God into our lives when it suits us.

This is a time to re-evaluate our relationship with Him, to value this time between birth and death, to sate our hunger with the word of God and the Bread of life and not to welcome the risen Lord with full bellies and empty hearts on Easter Sunday morning.

It is essential that, to come back to the Lord with heads raised to him and hearts on fire to meet Him that we make ourselves ready, that we turn again, with our whole bodies, minds and lives, all of us, the whole I am, to God. Turn again and look for the path to salvation.

This is not the day for great theological discussion; it is the day for honest prayer and listening to the word of God. It is a day to take a step back from the pressures of modern life and to turn ourselves to the coming Easter. I don’t want to sound like a member of the flower power movement, but it is a day to turn again to the pattern of all creation and to look to the Lord in love, and to look to His coming Passion and death and to be aware, with no embarrassment, no fear and no discomfort that HE DID THAT FOR ME. We need to honestly ask why. And to honestly respond to that love. We need to come back, with all our heart, but from love and gratitude, in a fervour borne of our understanding of this most beautiful relationship between God and Man.