begin again

This blog has rather lost its way of late. Plenty to blog about, but a distinct lack of time and energy to see it through. So, we begin again.

That has been a theme of the week, really. Last night we scrapped most of the vestry agenda to try to cut through the anxiety that has been mounting over property and to reconnect with God. The usual item on the agenda, ‘opening prayers’, took the form of a slow and meditative house communion, with cat and candles and grazing rabbits in sight.

I have always said that I do not reuse services or sermons. Each occasion is different and makes it’s own demands. And yet, last night, I echoed fairly directly a service that a friend and I put together for TISEC. It was the service that broke all the rules (though not the eucharistic ones) and the one I most enjoyed. I never for a moment thought I’d use it again. But for the past fortnight — ever since realising how anxious we had all become — this is the service that I knew I had to use. Not just a house communion, but this rather strange version of a communion that invited people to enter into their own weariness and to find God there.

Good old Elijah:

What are you doing here, Elijah?

I have been very zealous for the Lord, and everything I have tried has failed. I am tired and without hope. Just let me die now.

What are you doing here, Elijah?

Angels come, and Elijah is fed and forced on his way across the desert to Horeb.

What are you doing here, Elijah?

I have been very zealous for the Lord… and I am the only one left, and they are seeking my life.

Go, and stand on the mountain before God, for the Lord is about to pass by.

And Elijah has to face the fact that God is not in the crashing storm or the raging fire, or in all the disastrous things that demand his attention and threaten to overwhelm him. But when Elijah has survived those things and is left standing, he hears silence fall and knows he must cover his face to enter the presence of God. God asks him again:

What are you doing here, Elijah?

The answer remains the same. Elijah still feels overwhelmed; the path God asks Elijah to walk does not become any easier. But something has changed.

Elijah returns to the place he fled and begins to prepare for God’s future.

3 thoughts on “begin again”

  1. Wow. Yes.

    That’s been an important passage to me over the years and continues to be so.

    One of the things that has occurred to me in praying with this is that the angel touches him and brings him strength for the journey – twice. And he does so before Elijah asks for it. Elijah thinks he is alone, but he is not, nor does he have to rely only on his own strength.

    Sometimes it takes a while for me to recognize what I’m being offered, that I need it, and that it will indeed make a difference. And it’s usually in community that those things are offered me when I’m tempted to withdraw to the desert and stay there.

    After a summer of CPE (and its related anxiety and weariness), I am about to withdraw for a short rest to the New Hampshire mountains with some friends, and I suspect I will be offered this food and drink and given strength for the journey myself. Perhaps it will be a bit similar to the time you all spent together last night, though it will look very different.

    I’d love to see that service if you’d care to email it to me.

  2. You’ve just seen most of it.
    I’ll send you the opening meditation.

    After that it’s the Elijah passage, in two parts, interspersed with verses from Bernadette Farrell’s Bread for the World. One of the ‘broken rules’ is that the verses of the hymn stand in for the gospel, and the final verse calls us to communion. Not Sunday fare, nor a precedent to follow, but in this case, somehow ‘right’.

  3. As a participant, it was just right for where we were at and I am not sure that we didn’t get just as much ‘work’ done as usual in half the time.

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