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The Community were delighted to be invited to take part in an upcoming episode of Songs of Praise for the BBC.
Filming took place in different locations around site. One of the show’s regular presenters Sean Fletcher conducted various interviews to learn more about life at the Community and College.
This episode is due to be broadcast on Pentecost Sunday 23 May at its usual scheduled time of around 1.15pm (Please note there may be changes to schedules and broadcast times can vary). https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes
In last week’s Economist there was a photograph of a huge robot in the shape of a human being, and where its head should be there was a driving-cab with a real man inside operating the controls. That’s how we tend to think about our minds and our bodies. Our mind is the most important thing about us – our body belongs to a lower order of things and the mind controls it. This picture of the little man in the robot is a deep image within each of us, a deep image of our culture. So you get the view very dominant in our society that each person should be free to make themselves, to express what is within them rather than follow what is outside them. This gives us the revised Brownie promise introduced not long ago, that “I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs …”. God has gone, and instead there is myself. You can’t criticise the guiding Association – what else can you say in a society like ours? There is a deep link between the Brownies here and German 19th-century philosophy. The German thinker Wilhelm Humboldt for instance believed that the individual ought to be free to determine themselves and develop themselves, and any restraints or influences outside ourselves were to be seen as a challenge to be overcome.
These assumptions are deeply ingrained in the modern mindset – but they are in fact outdated. Science, anthropology and philosophy are all now telling us that this image is mistaken – we are all in fact intertwined with each other. Because we are so used to it we don’t notice it, but all our life, even if we live relatively alone, is woven through this intertwining with one another. We have been learning a thing or two about that during lockdown. And not only that – our intertwining with the physical world goes right down to the deepest hidden parts of our minds. Even if you look at a cup and saucer for a few moments and try to think of all the thoughts that it conjures up, you realise that cups and saucers in your lifetime have laid down all sorts of things in your depths. The physical world is all the time contributing to our make-up. In the same edition of the Economist another article described how Tesla self-drive cars need a great multitude of sensors of all sorts. We are the same without realising it – we unconsciously take in masses of information from all around us.
St John in today’s gospel shows us Jesus saying, “love one another”. You could say that love is the perfecting of this intertwining. You can’t do what love does and be what love is without making yourself vulnerable, without loosening some of your control. You have to come out of the driving-cab, leaving behind its protection.
What is this love that Jesus talks about? It isn’t at all something you can simply turn on. If we make a great effort to love, we can end up with something debased. Love for others can be patronising, it can be manipulative, it can be deaf to what they want to tell us. Love can be erotic and even destructive, love can distort things. We are never in a position to reckon that something we are doing is love. If that’s the case, doesn’t this paralyse us? It only paralyses us if we see ourselves as a driver in a cab. In our gospel passage Jesus in fact says this: “as the father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” This love is outside us. Wilhelm Humboldt, following his principles, will never find it because he is sufficient to himself, and any influence outside himself is something to be challenged. If we are to love, we have to go out from ourselves. The message of the gospel is that there is something, someone greater than us, and that we will find ourselves by sitting under this Mystery. Following Christ is paideia – that’s Greek for being a learner, an apprentice. “You have not chosen me; I have chosen you”. Kierkegaard said about St Paul that “the call to be an apostle is a paradoxical occurrence, lying always beyond Paul’s personal self-identity.” Beyond our personal self-identity. My sense of myself, and my picture of the world, will grow and change as I am taken outside of myself. Towards the divine Other. God is love, and Christ is the face of that love. Love is not something we do; love is being in Christ. It’s because of this that St Augustine could advise us to love God and do what we want.
In this Eucharist we are 2 communities: a religious community and a theological college. And there is another community intertwining with us, everyone present with us over the Internet. The Eucharist which brings us together is a place of abiding in that love which is Christ. Lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name. The Holy Spirit calls us constantly to wake up and be aware of the Lord in the midst of us. One way of being a learner in the School of love is simply to be awake and stay awake. Karl Barth, although belonging to the Swiss Reformed Church, was a great admirer of monastic life – despite all its failings he thought that over the centuries monastic life had repeatedly modelled what the Church is called to be. He wrote to the Abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat in Spain that renewal in monastic life cannot be something that happens every now and again. It’s every day. Monks and nuns, and the whole Church, stand and fall by the fact that our Lord… orders us anew at every moment. So for Karl Barth every moment of our Christian life is an event; monastic life is an event, triggered by the living God. To love as we were meant to love, is to be in Christ, in the Christian community, and for others, open to the world.
If associations like the Brownies are like a canary in a coal mine, having to reflect reflect what is in the atmosphere, then we must pray for our contemporary society to be transformed in such a way that the promise will need to be revised again, to refer to a desire to go out of ourselves, outside of our selves to find that love which is beyond all understanding.
Fr George CR
Latest Update – March 2021
Following recent government announcements regarding the cautious removal of Covid restrictions in stages, the Community of the Resurrection is hopeful that we will be able to reopen to a limited number of self-catered day and residential visitors from 12 April 2021. From 17 May 2021, we hope to reopen our Retreat House and Bed and Breakfast. We will continue to adhere to Covid guidelines and update our practices and procedures in line with advice and recommendations. If this needs to change for any reason, a further announcement will be made on our website and social media channels.
Meanwhile the Brethren continue to live and pray together and you are invited to join with us for our daily offices online. We continue to trust in God, knowing His love is unfailing in this time of Lent. We are thankful of all your prayer and we continue to seek to pray for you.
For enquiries or more information please contact our Guest Team by email email@example.com, or by phone 01924 483346.
The Retreat Association icon, depicting Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well (John 4.) is currently making its way around a number of retreat houses and cathedrals and we are among those taking part in this ‘pilgrimage’. We shall be receiving the icon on the 6 May from The Bield, in Perthshire, and after resting here for a month it will be taken to Holy Rood House, in North Yorkshire.
As we do not re-open until 17 May, it has not been possible to plan an event around it here at Mirfield, so we shall be offering a Zoom Quiet Day on Friday 21 May, between 10am and 4pm, for anyone who would like to join us at the well. Alison MacTier, the Executive Director of the Retreat Association has kindly offered to lead this for us.
There will be no charge for the day but donations are always welcome.
If you are interested in this event please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gospel for St Philip and St James Day is part of Jesus’s farewell discourse with the disciples before he goes to face his enemies and the Last Enemy. The Lord speaks in riddles and paradoxes and the disciples’ questionings show both bewilderment and impatience. He talks of leaving them, of some unknown Comforter after he is gone and of bringing them to some mysterious house with a lot of rooms in it.
Somehow it doesn’t sound like good news especially when he adds ‘in the world you will have tribulation’. ‘Be of good cheer I have overcome the world’ is not really helpful when the evidence appears to be to the contrary. So they press him.
Simon says ‘Why can I not go with you? I would lay down my life for you?’
Thomas ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?’
Jude ‘Lord how will you show yourself to us without the world seeing you?’
Jesus seems to have a bit of trouble getting the disciples to understand. This has been so since the beginning of their association. He may appear confident but this is the man whose spirit is troubled within him, who in a few hours’ time will pray ‘my God, my God why have you forsaken me?’
Why are they still so dull-witted? Why don’t they see?
There is so much to explain, there is so little time.
Perhaps that is what prompts his sharp answer to Philip’s request: ‘Lord show us the Father and we shall be satisfied.’
”Have I been so long with you Philip and yet you do not know me?”
Who can see the Father? Who can show the Father? Who can manipulate the Creator?
The heaven of heavens cannot contain what Philip asks for. We are a dot in the Milky Way Galaxy; there are a hundred Billion stars in that galaxy. If you begin counting one two, three… allowing one second each time it would take thirty-two years to count to one billion. Our galaxy is one of four hundred billion known galaxies. The Father made all this. The heaven of heavens can contain him.
St Philip and St James’s Day is followed by that of St Athanasius who gave his name to the Creed that says ‘the Father is incomprehensible’. This is the God that Philip wants Jesus to show to them. It is no wonder that Jesus doesn’t give him a straight answer.
‘To see me is to see the Father.’
It is also no wonder that the disciples find frustration in the paradoxes and riddles with which Jesus seeks to teach them. How can they see the Creator, the Infinite, Immortal, Invisible God in this thirty-year-old that they have followed, broke bread with and laboured beside for at least three years?
The aforementioned clause of the Athanasian Creed is followed by one that says ‘the Son, Incomprehensible’. You can’t argue with that!
But there are other paths of incomprehensibility. However we might try to understand God we find that he is unfathomable. His power, his wisdom his love are beyond the capability of human reason. In these discourses Jesus is trying to draw his disciples towards the meaning of love. These chapters of the Fourth Gospel are filled with the language of love and Jesus says ‘If you want to see the Father look at me’ Is this any more comprehensible?
No. But Love itself is a mystery. So far among all those four hundred billion, billion heavenly bodies we have only evidence of one species in which the idea of love has blossomed. And it is incomprehensible that this species with a history of greed, cruelty and brutality could develop into a race, however imperfect, in which parental and fraternal love, sacrifice, adoration, love of country, tenderness and selflessness are seen as ideals that all should strive after. Art, music poetry science even physical culture come from hearts and minds that have learned how to love.
In the last discourses Jesus is trying to spell out the meaning of love. God made humanity in his own image. God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. Paul tells us Jesus is the image of the invisible God and here we are at the heart of the mystery of love. In giving us Christ God is sacrificing himself to save us.
Charles Dinsmore put it thus – ‘There was a cross in the heart of God before there was one set up on the green hill outside Jerusalem.’
Or as Isaac Watts put it: Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Fr John CR
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We are looking to appoint two administrators to work closely together covering 50 hours per week, ideally at 25 hours each with at least part of one day per week worked in common. The posts would suit a job-share arrangement.
This is an active site, full of interest, and home for monks and students. No two days are likely to be the same. The heart of the work of these posts will be to provide a welcome to the monks’ guests, and those appointed will be joining a friendly team of support staff and monks.
The successful applicants will be approachable and enjoy working with others, with strong administrative skills and a clear eye for detail, flexible and dependable.
If you think this might be the role for you, please take a look at the job summary and person specification below.
Please note, we reserve the right to close this vacancy once a sufficient number of applications has been received. You are advised to submit your application as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Some years ago I made a long retreat at St Beuno’s in Wales, that lovely Jesuit house where Gerard Manley Hopkins lived, and wrote the Wreck of the Deutschland. Each afternoon I would go out for a walk up and down the hills, enjoying that wonderful countryside, as Hopkins had done:
“Lovely the woods, waters, meadows, combes, vales
All the air things wear that build this world of Wales.”
And I got to know Welsh sheep. They were everywhere. They were big and dirty, their wool matted with mud and other less pleasant things. They were not like those sparkling white sheep that one usually sees in pictures of Jesus the Good Shepherd. It’s nice to think of Jesus as a shepherd. It is not so nice to think of ourselves as sheep! Not only are sheep dirty – it’s not for nothing that Pope Francis said priestly shepherds should have the smell of the sheep about their person! They are also not very bright. They tend to fall into ditches, get stuck in the mud, get tangled up in barbed wire fences. It’s not a very flattering picture of us, but I fear it may be a true one. Maybe today we should reflect a bit on our own lives and consider how much like sheep we are. Grubby, not very bright and inclined to get into messes. It is extraordinary what sort of people God calls to monastic and priestly life. Perhaps he has no choice because that is all there is. But enough of us. What about the Shepherd.?
When we think of the shepherd we think of that other story of the shepherd who went off after a single lost sheep and brought it home. That story has given rise to many thousands of beautiful sermons full of love, care and gentleness. I wonder if that is what it is really about. I once heard a talk from the New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey, who grew up in the Middle East, spoke Arabic and knew shepherds. He reminded us that shepherds were businessmen. Their flocks of sheep were their bank, or the bank of those they worked for. If you lose a sheep, you lose money. You go after a lost sheep to get your money back. It’s as basic as that. Jesus the Good Shepherd is as basic as that.
It reminds me of a cousin of mine who raises cattle in Zimbabwe. There was a big problem in his area with stock theft. Every farmer was losing cattle to thieves. My cousin never lost a single animal because right at the beginning he took to giving each of his three herdsmen a calf as a Christmas bonus so they could build up their own herds. “But” he said, “If ever I lose a cow I will come and take one of yours.” They made sure he never did, out of concern for their own. The moral of the story is that love costs money. God loved us, and he paid for that love by suffering on the Cross.
That gives a different take on Jesus as the good shepherd. He is jealous of his sheep. Like a businessman or a miser, he will not let his money get lost. In the Old Testament we are often told that God is a jealous God. Jealousy is supposed to be bad, but in God it is good. It shows that God really loves us with passion. He will not let the devil capture us and take us away. His love is not a pale, gentle benevolence that is easily blown away by the breeze. It is strong, violent, passionate love. It is the kind of love you meet in the Song of Songs: “I found him whom my soul loves; I held him and would not let him go.” God was so determined not to let go of these lost sheep on earth that he became one of them; he suffered death on the Cross and pursued his sheep down to hell. It can be a bit frightening to discover love like that, but it is also good to know that that is how we are loved: a love that pursues us through the darkness of our lives and will not let us go.
That leaves me with one question: why did the compilers of our lectionary give us this gospel of Jesus the Good Shepherd to read during Eastertide? To read it in Lent would make good sense – the Good Shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. What does it tell us of the risen Christ? Well, I do not know what the compilers intended, but I have an idea of my own. It goes back to a number of years ago when I was visiting Romania. We were in a small village in Transylvania up against the Carpathians when a couple of shepherds brought their flock of sheep through the village. These shepherds bore no resemblance at all to that willowy, pre-Raphaelite picture of Jesus the Good Shepherd which you see so often in children’s bible books. They were big, tough, bearded men. They exuded energy and strength as they walked fast through the village. They were, in fact, a bit scary. They lived on the mountain side with their sheep in rain and snow, in heat and drought. They defended the sheep against bears, wolves and thieves. They were real men. Is that what the risen Jesus is – the most real man, or person who has ever existed?
We have trouble representing the Risen Christ. Sometimes he appears pale and willowy as if he needed to be thin and unsubstantial to slip through doors and walls. Other times he is full of light as if a star has come down to Earth. In Caravaggio’s Emmaus he is meaty, more like a butcher than a God. Christ is not less human for having resumed his Godhead. He is more human. He is the kind of human we will be if we make it through to the Resurrection, not less real but more so.
What are the implications of this? Where is this powerful, human, Risen Christ? Faith tells us he is all around. Is he doing anything? We look at the world today and see a trail of disasters – the pandemic, climate crisis, the destruction of our environment, the wars raging in Africa and the middle East. Some think God has abandoned the world, that he is hanging around to collect the last faithful Christian off this doomed planet before he lets it go its own way to hell. I believe the world is still here, and the human race still here only because this big strong Risen Christ is working to make it so. I believe that we are finally beginning to deal with issues of climate change, inequality, destruction because Christ is dragging us into doing so. The challenge for us in today’s world is to find out what the Risen Christ is already doing and work with him. That is what shows we believe he has risen from the dead.
Fr Nicolas CR
Luke 24. 36b-48
Unlike the other Gospels St Luke does not mention the disciples going to Galilee to see the risen Lord. He tells his readers only about the appearances in and about Jerusalem leading up to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles empowering them for the mission to all nations beginning at Jerusalem.
St Luke tells us that Jesus appeared several times to the apostles to help them in their bewilderment and fear at what had happened to Jesus. He seemed to be the same person they had known before his arrest, trials and crucifixion. But he appeared and disappeared in no normal way. Jesus encouraged them to touch his body, to see the wounds in his hands and side but it seems they were reluctant. Thomas confessed him his Lord and God but they thought no one could see God and live. No wonder the disciples were terrified and astonished. Jesus showed them that he was not a spirit or ghost or emanation by eating in front of them.
Even so St Luke says they disbelieved for joy and marvelled. A resurrection body is entirely beyond human understanding.
When Jesus had reassured his disciples he went on to give them important guidance for their future mission. They were to preach to all nations that all who repented and believed in Jesus Christ would receive forgiveness of their sins. The Holy Scriptures proved this to be true.
As their writings show, the first disciples searched the old Testament for texts which pointed to Christ The creed we are about to recite confirms this. We say, ‘On the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures. We believe in the Holy Spirit who spoke by the prophets.’
We can give some familiar examples of texts which Christians believe point to Christ:
Isaiah chapter 7 ‘Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a child and shall call his name Immanuel, God with us.’
Psalm 2 ‘You are my Son. Today I have begotten you.’
Psalm 72 ‘The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
will bring presents. The kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him.
Isaiah 61 ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted…
Isaiah 53 speaks of the Passion of Jesus.
Genesis 22 speaks of the sacrifice of the only son.
Psalm 22 speaks of the Crucifixion of Jesus.
Psalm 110 ‘You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek. The letter to the Hebrews expands this theme.
Exodus 14 anticipates the baptism of believers into the death and resurrection of Christ.
Psalm 16.10 ‘You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will you leave your Holy One to see corruption.’ A prophecy of Christ’s resurrection quoted by St Peter in Acts 2.25ff.
We could go on but there is no need.
In 1933 Mr Hubert Worthington, the architect, completed the beautiful dining hall of the College of the Resurrection.
He was a friend of our founder, Charles Gore, and commissioned in thanksgiving a tondo, or roundel, carved by Eric Gill. It is placed in the middle of the great wall behind the high table and depicts the Lamb of God holding a banner inscribed with the word ‘Resurrexi’, I am risen.
More recently a small figure of naked Adam has been placed in a niche above the Refectory door.
The first Adam looks down the hall at the second Adam, recalling the words of St Paul in his letter to the Romans chapter 15. ‘As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ Amen.
Crispin Harrison CR