Read Canon Mike's reflection for Tuesday, 20 July, 2021.
(Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash - Thanks to Chris Montgomery on Unsplash)
For an audio recording of this blog, follow this link to the blog post on our prayer blog, Prayer for Liverpool: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/blog/gathering-reflection-by-canon-mike.
This week for me sees the end of a series of fairly busy weeks – busy in a world which has become all too familiar. A world of online gatherings, meetings, conferences…..all manner of things conducted virtually, online; all often different – but all pretty much from the same seat in the house! The seat, desk and location in my house is the same – but the gatherings on screen are different. All do have value, all bring us together, often across very large distances, in ways which our previous face-to-face meetings perhaps could not.
Some of you may know, I am a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists (www.ordsci.org). Our annual meeting is actually called the Annual Gathering, for which we come together in a large retreat house or similar, to join in prayer and worship, in friendship and fellowship, for reflection and discussion and of course for the Eucharist. All was cancelled last year, but this year we ventured into Zoomland (as our Canon Theologian has aptly named it!) to bring our gathering together….at least in virtual space, if not physical space.
It was different. Spread out over three days, but with sessions alternating between morning, afternoon and evening, so that members of the society across the globe, from the US, Europe and Australia/NZ could join with at least some convenience with regard to timezones. A gathering like no other – yes because it was all online, but also since it enabled people to ‘attend’ who would not normally be able to, when we come together in person. From that perspective, the gathering was very blessed, with some lovely conversations, great presentations and discussions, prayers, laughter and shared memories. In many senses it isn’t the same, but in many it is – since the people still bring themselves….and as brothers and sisters in Christ, all peoples, we know God is there too. And perhaps that is why the gathering still retained something very special.
Sunday’s gospel (Mark 6:30-34, 53-end), at the heart of the Eucharist on the special day commemorating the 97th anniversary of the Consecration of our beloved cathedral, opened by describing how the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and experienced – for shortly beforehand, Jesus had sent out the twelve, two by two, into the villages. The section of scripture in the lectionary has a ‘scene cut’, missing out two of Jesus’ great miracles; the feeding of the five thousand, and Jesus walking on the waters of Galilee. But the text is still suffused with gatherings of many different types – noting how the people just rush from the whole region to see and hear Jesus, and bring their sick to him to be healed – and he is in the midst of them; Jesus is in the centre of the gathering, however large or small.
And perhaps that’s something we must hold on to, still in these present times. Even though this is the first reflection after, in England, we have moved into step four of the lifting of restrictions, many (including myself) are still very cautious and perhaps anxious. As a cathedral community, we honour and respect that, for our basis as a community is that of love for each other; God’s love, with Jesus Christ at the heart. We still reach out, we still enable people to gather in lots of different ways – online through our live-streaming, in virtual bible study and prayer groups, or safely face-to-face within our prayer, Eucharist and Sepas services; at each persons’ own pace and time, when they feel comfortable in so doing. Our thoughts and prayers form a common thread through all these gatherings, by God’s love being with us, through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Spirit. We must not forget that the gatherings can happen, too, through our prayers for one another – always holding onto each other, never letting go – wherever we might be.
For all of our encounters, for all of our gatherings, in the past, in the present and in the future times; whether they be in conversation, safely with visitors and our cathedral company within the cathedral, or online still through our loving outreach; whether they be in prayerful joy to share news of God’s blessings, or be in the deep pastoral conversations where we are there to listen and support in any way one can; whether it be a gathering of two hundred or just two, we can be certain that God’s love is at the heart of it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As always, when we gather together, through our prayers – we do so with Christ’s love; go gently…..
Canon Mike 😊
While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of this website: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/prayer-resources.html.