Eastertide Message from Julia
Message for Sunday, April 19th 2020
Have you noticed recently how strong the urges for things we can’t have can be?
Longings not only to hold loved ones, but also to visit happy places.
People have been talking of dreams about significant places in their lives ~ of childhood landscapes, treasured travels, honeymoon times when life all comes together.
In Mark’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb, a young man dressed in a white robe is sitting in the tomb. He says to the women who had come with flowers and spices: ‘Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. Go, and tell his disciples and Peter that he is going to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you’.
It was natural for Jesus to return to the place where he was first known; his hometown, the landscape of his youth, the memories of intense encounters and first love, the anticipation of adventures in life.
In times of spiritual crisis, it is good to follow the advice of the risen Lord to his dejected disciples – ‘Return to Galilee’. Return to joyful days spent in the company of the Lord. Return and you will find him again. And probably find him in a new and unexpected way, as the first disciples did.
The spiritual writer, Anthony de Mello, drawing on ancient Christian and Eastern traditions of meditation, stresses the importance of a place for prayer.
He suggests finding a place that is conducive to feeling close to God. Closeness to nature can help. The sea-shore with the sound of waves crashing, a quietly flowing river, or the peace of mountains. Jesus, a master in the art of prayer, would walk up a hill in order to pray. Like all great contemplatives he was aware that the place in which we pray affects the quality of our prayer.
Even in normal times, most of us are cut us off from open nature, in places hardly conducive to lifting our spirits to God.
All the more reason, claims de Mello, to expose ourselves to places that help us pray whenever we get the chance. His advice: ‘Gaze and drink in the atmosphere. You can then carry this around with you in your heart, and even though you may be far from these places geographically, you will have them vividly etched in your memory and will be able to return to them in your imagination’.
This Eastertide, St Peter’s Faith and Life programme will offer different ways of praying. We are planning a series of reflections adapted from Anthony de Mello’s classic exercises in Christian meditation, Sadhana: A Way to God. Stay tuned!
Amongst the array of resources for prayer and worship at home, I can personally recommend two audio prayer guides:
For praying with the body:
Julian Maddock’s audio meditations on Presence, Gratitude and Kindness.
In these 50 days of Eastertide, as we follow the experiences of the first disciples, let us hold on to memories of places where we have been awed by the splendour of creation, places where we have felt loved, places where we have been touched by God.
Thanks to everyone who has sent in pictures of their Easter gardens, stirring reminders of new life bursting all around us.
With my love and blessings,
Rev’d Julia Porter-Pryce
St Peter De Beauvoir
Click to follow Home Worship for Sunday, 19 April.