Touchstone is about friendship. Friendship with God and a with a few others who are our companions through the journey of life. We have discovered that these friendships are shaped and nurtured by silence and creative imagining of the life of Jesus. My friend Ray Simpson wrote this prayer “Gentle God, reveal to us the beauty of sensitive friendship. Help us create such stillness in our inner being that we become aware of your gracious movements in the souls of others. (Celtic Prayers for Life Today). This section of the website will provide developing guides for you to move in this direction. Our first piece is an Invitation to a Four Day Prayer Experience. I’m inviting you to take 10 minutes a day with the guide to experience God in some stories from Jesus’ life.
2017 Retreat Guide
Becoming What You Admire – Reflecting On Jesus
Some Thoughts About Friendship on Retreat Together
Ron Nikkel and I were sitting on a bench, looking out at sun-drenched fields and reading the Jude Benediction aloud to one another a couple of times each. We read:
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24,25 NRSV)
We entered a shared silence, letting the words of the blessing wash over and in us – and then began to laugh out loud almost simultaneously. It was laughter of joy and wonder. This God “who is able to keep us from stumbling” has been present to us even when we weren’t aware of it. But we know that this God has been the bond of our friendship. The blessing expresses the reason and desire for that friendship.
We have been given the gift of this time together with congenial companions who share this desire. Let me just remind us of how this time together is shaped to assist us on this voyage.
We believe God is present in all of life. Our playing and our praying; our eating and our drinking; our speaking and our listening; our reading and our thinking – all are expressions of the presence of God and means to experiencing it together.
This time together is sacred space where we leave ourselves deliberately in position to be interrupted, give up plans for outcome and trust the Spirit’s work.
Jesus lived his life in deep relationship with the Father and the Spirit. Jesus’ prayer just before he heads for arrest and trial includes the following hints about our times together; “Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:18-23 NLT)
We are being drawn into that relationship that Jesus has with the Father. He invites us to join this dance of love that draws us into God and toward one another. This informs all that we do here. Jesus tells us he is present in each one of us as a community.
We are being sent by our Lord and Friend Jesus into the world as he was sent. This means we operate out of a sense of call in our work, family, service to the world and causes of justice and mercy. Our friendship with God and one another is not an inward directed experience. The healing and help we receive in our broken and confused places refreshes and empowers us to go on mission in the church and in the world.
Our playing and our praying are gifts to allow us to break from the normal patterns of life and work into a brief Sabbath. Our playing (walks, games, leisure) has drawn us away together, given us the motivation to be here and is just good fun and relaxation. Our praying together meets the real longing of our hearts to know and experience the love of God. Our praying together is also a gift that encourages us to listen deeply to God in silence and peace – a hard place to get to, most times in our daily lives.
Our eating and our drinking are gifts from God as well. We need food and drink to just get through the day but we need food and drink of a richer sort to find nourishment for all of life. Meals can be sacred places of conversation and intimacy as stories are shared and new things are discovered.
Many of Jesus’ most amazing conversations were at a table with saints and sinners alike. He enjoyed the hospitality he was offered. We are trying in this time together to offer him hospitality at our table and while we enjoy the odd beverage.
We will enjoy our “Celtic Meal” together – a meal that connects with our deepest need for freedom, love, forgiveness and hope. Eating and drinking in honour of King Jesus has been our tradition.
Our speaking and our listening also express this hospitality to Jesus and one another. It takes time and discipline to give one another the airtime that allows us to know real inner journey and to recognize God’s presence in the other.
Interruptions are normal in life but not helpful in conversations that are committed to listening and learning. The opposite of interrupting is active, responsive silence.
This non-interrupting spirit must infect our time together over meals, conversations, laughter and reflection.
We believe God is present in our midst, present in each one and present in our circle of friendship. Quiet, deep, watchful listening sharpens our eyes to see and ears to hear the Presence.
We watch and listen for signs of grace in the other, actions of love in the other. Catching each other out in the good we see transforms us from analysis and judgment to wonder, awe and affirmation.
Weakness and failure is easy to see – it takes eyes and ears of love to discover the good and grace in the other. Our fears, our hopes, our failures, our achievements – the things we are truly asking from God – can be enriching ingredients to listening and speaking with one another.
Our reading and our thinking are rich resources for one another. We will share ideas, books we’ve read, movies we’ve seen –even engage in arguments about them.
On several occasions we will do a different sort of reading. We will hear the reading of a story from Jesus’ life, we will release our imaginations to the Spirit and see and hear things we may not have seen and heard before.
These readings will often shape our conversations for the rest of the day just because we have opened our minds and souls for the Spirit to take us in new and refreshing ways.
Let’s enjoy our time together, letting the freedom of the Spirit’s interruptions allow us to experience the love of God in Jesus and one another. Let’s pray and play knowing we are empowered by the one who can make us stand without blemish in His presence.
Some Things to Consider During A Retreat
Begin by believing that the Divine Shepherd wants to communicate personally with you. No matter where you have been in the past all you bring to this process is a generous openness to God.
Silence is one of the important ingredients to quieting yourself, both inside and out. You want to create an atmosphere of hospitality for the Divine Guardian of your soul.
At the beginning of each prayer period quiet yourself, relax and tune out everything but the One who wants to communicate with you. But you may have to embrace that which you are trying to tune out.
John Veltri sj, gives this helpful piece of advice: “In an age of noise, activity and tensions like our own, it is not always necessary or easy to forget our cares and commitments, the noise and excitement of our environment. Never feel constrained to blot out all distractions….Rather, realize that the Word did become flesh – that God speaks to us in the noise and confusion of our day.”
When you are relaxed in the comfortable knowledge of God’s unselfish, loving presence in you then pick up the passage of scripture you have selected.
Veltri summarizes the process in “5 ‘P’s’ 1’R’”
Scripture Pick one passage and have it marked and ready.
Place Where you are alone and uninhibited in your response to God’s presence
Posture Relaxed and peaceful. A harmony of body with spirit
Presence of God Be aware of it and acknowledge and respond to it. When you are ready turn to the selected passage.
Passage Read it very slowly aloud and listen carefully and peacefully to it….pause…..Listen with your heart as you would a love letter. Read aloud or whisper with pauses and repetitions when and where you are drawn. Don’t be anxious, don’t try to look for implications or lessons or profound thoughts or conclusions. Be content to be like a child who climbs into a caring person’s lap and listens to a story. During the prayer exercise it is helpful to imagineJesus sitting with you. Try havinga conversation with him about what youare hearing.
Review After the period of prayer is over reflect upon the experience of prayer just finished. This review will help you notice what God is doing in your experience.
An important part of the process of prayer is sharing the experience (as much as is appropriate) with your friends in the group. It has been my experience that we often find surprises in the telling of what we have experienced of God to a few trusted friends.
Often new truths, emotions, comforts and fears can emerge in the telling. The trusted friends in the group become mediators and reminders of God’s love for you in all of this experience.
Becoming What You Admire – Reflecting On Jesus
Admiration leads to Transformation
We’ve been given the gift of time to create silence and try four simple steps to experiencing God in the silence and have this experience shape our conversations.
Marshall McLuhan, Canada’s great media visionary said, “You become what you behold”. He was worried about the hold that ever-expanding media influence would have on us as humans.
Francis’ influential prayer companion was a woman named Clare. Her passion to know Jesus deeply led her to what she called “Imitative Prayer”. Clare focused her desire to imitate Jesus on the crucifixion stories. The mystery and accessibility of God in Jesus captured her, particularly his humility in his arrest, trial and execution.
Here is a prayer pattern that many of us have found refreshing in response to the incessant demands for our attention. Taking time to “behold” Jesus in Gospel stories can transform our deepest longings.
Select a story from Jesus’ life and follow these four steps for praying this way;
Here are four simple stages for Imitative Prayer:
Gaze - what do we see, hear experience? Quietly and undistracted we look at one we love. This way of praying is about letting our creative energy engage with God in ways that will change us.
So relax, take a deep breath and “Gaze”. Enter your quiet space and then “gaze” at a story from Jesus’ life – look, see, experience the one we love in this story.
Consider - the character and love of God in Jesus Christ. How am I drawn to his ways? What do I notice about Jesus in this story?
In admiring the life of Jesus in a Gospel story we connect with his life and his life connects with ours. As we are drawn to his ways we reflect on our lives- where do we notice the presence of Jesus in the brokenness of the world we serve?
Greater awareness of the life of Jesus in us leads us to a greater sensitivity to notice his presence in others.
Contemplate Enter into conversation with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal himself more to you. Where does this story connect with your life now? How am I challenged and encouraged by his humble and sacrificial love?
Jesus lived life to its fullest and shows us humanity at our best. We can connect with that - longing to be like him. “Imitative prayer” is a quiet and reflective way to a relationship with Jesus at his most humble and yet most transforming.
Our admiration for Jesus’ powerful love and sacrifice affects us deeply. We will want to imitate it. We become what we admire- and we want to become like Jesus in his life and death.
Imitate - The models we choose to imitate shape the trajectory of our lives. Today after Gazing, Considering, and Contemplating rest gently with Imitating. Where does your desire to grow and change connect with Jesus' example?
Jesus, by the Spirit, resides in even the darkest places of our lives, assuring us of love, forgiveness and redemption. Our hope and discovery is the mystery of God's presence in all of life.
Using Your Imagination to Pray A Story from Jesus’ Life
- Select a brief action passage
- Relax and settle into God’s presence
- Slowly read the passage aloud – don’t look back at the page but let the scene sink into your imagination.
- Slowly read the passage a second time – looking for details you missed the first time. Again looking away from the page let the scene unfold in your imagination.
- Slowly read it a third time – more details will be seen and questions, interpretations and insights will occur to you. Let them settle in your memory for 30 seconds. We are accustomed to embrace these questions and interpretations but they distract us form becoming part of the story.
- Read a fourth or even fifth time until these distractions quiet then put the Bible aside.
- Let the scene happen, sink into the scene and eventually you will become part of it.
- Interact with the characters in the scene – help them with their work, listen to their conversations and reply to their questions and comments.
- Don’t moralize or make applications. You’ll notice the effects in reflection afterward or in your life as Jesus’ mind becomes yours.
- When the prayer period ends review what happened. Did you notice a point of tension, confusion, encouragement or challenge? This may be something you need to return to for further prayer. Give thanks to God for being present with you during this time of prayer.
Exhibiting Ourselves to the Gospel Story
About Picasso exhibit at AGO May 1- August 26, 2012
One thing visitors won't be getting is lots of information on the walls. Each objet will be identified in situ - but there is only one substantive text panel, at the show's start, while each of the exhibition's seven sections will be prefaced only by a single quotation such as "Art is never chaste" (for the grouping called Surreal Anxiety and Desire/1924-34).
It's completely intentional, of course. Didactic panels bunch up viewers and tend to mediate, even "blind" their experience of the art, Baldassari said.
"What we need to do is go freely to the work. We have to have the courage to be nude in front of the works. An exhibition is not a text, is not a book. We don't need any explanation at the first level of contact .... to respect it, to put people under its power. What is an exhibition but a machine to exhibit people to the work? We need to be in a direct relation, without any 'facilities,' no small stories, no narratives
(From an Interview with Anne Baldassari President & Chief Curator of the Musee National Picasso in Paris in Globe & MailApril 25, 2012)
A Prayer of Invitation
O Lord, who has mercy on all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and enjoy you, for Christ's sake. (Ambrose: c.339-97)
Holding the Door Open
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’
“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either…”
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” (Matthew 23:1-14, 23 NLT)
A Prayer for Holding the Door Open
O God you brought me from the rest of last night
through the new light of this day – to this time together with you and your friends.
Help me to sharpen my ears to your voice. Help me hold the door open and joyfully share the load with others.
Bring me in the light of each day to see your guiding light and hear your words of encouragement.
Lead me O God on the journey of justice, mercy and faith. Busy as I am, help me do what is most important.
Guide me O Godon the pathways of peace.
Renew me O God
by the wellsprings of grace
today, tonight and forever.
For Jesus’s sake I ask you – help me be the person you have in your heart for me to be.
God to enfold me, God to surround me,
God in my speaking, God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping, God in my waking,
God in my watching, God in my hoping.
God in my life, God in my lips,
God in my soul, God in my heart.
God in my sufficing, God in my slumber,
God in my ever-living soul, God in mine eternity
(From Carmina Gadelica,III,53 in The Celtic Vision Esther De Waal)
Two Scenes of Jesus’ Call of Disciples
The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb.”
The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.” They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus. Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”). (John 1:35-42 MSG)
After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”
Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.
A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed. (Mark 1:14-20 MSG)
A Prayer for Today
Beauty of friendship grow between us
Friendship; without guile
without malice, without striving.
Goodness of friendship grow between us
Friendship; with light
with wings, with soul sharing.
Be in the eye of each friend of my journey
to bless and teach each one.
The eye of the Father be upon us
The eye of the Son be upon us
The eye of the Spirit be upon us
The eye of the Friendly Three
Be upon us forever
A Prayer to begin
Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, you have made us for yourself, so that our hearts are restless until they rest in you; grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will, no weakness from doing it; but that in your light we may see light clearly, and in your service find our perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Augustine: 354-430)
A Meal For Friends For Life
Jesus said, “I have looked forward to this hour with deep longing, anxious to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat it again until it comes to fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.”
Then he took a cup of wine, and when he had given thanks for it, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”
Then he took a loaf of bread; and when he had thanked God for it, he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you—an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.
“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For I, the Son of Man, must die since it is part of God’s plan. But how terrible it will be for my betrayer!”
Then the disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing. And they began to argue among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the coming Kingdom.
Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men order their people around, and yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Normally the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For I am your servant….
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.” (Luke 22:15-27, 31-32 NLT)
A Prayer for the journey
O God who brought me
from the rest of last night
to the new light of this day,
bring me in the light of this day
to the guiding light of the eternal.
Lead me O God
on the journey of justice
Guide me O God
on the pathways of peace
Renew me O God
by the wellsprings of grace
today, tonight and forever
(Celtic Prayers from Iona, J.P. Newell)
A Prayer to Begin
We awake this morning
in the presence of the holy angels of God.
May heaven open wide before us,
above us and around us.
That we may see the Christ of our love
and his sunlit company in all the things of earth this day
What’s squeezing us out of quiet prayer?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
One Sabbath, Jesus was strolling with his disciples through a field of ripe grain. Hungry, the disciples were pulling off the heads of grain and munching on them. Some Pharisees reported them to Jesus: “Your disciples are breaking the Sabbath rules!”
Jesus said, “Really? Didn’t you ever read what David and his companions did when they were hungry, how they entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? And didn’t you ever read in God’s Law that priests carrying out their Temple duties break Sabbath rules all the time and it’s not held against them?
“There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant—‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’—you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.” (Matthew 11:25-30; 12:1-8 MSG
A Prayer for the journey
May Jesus who walked on wounded feet
Walk with me to the end of my road.
May Jesus who served with wounded hands
Teach me to serve others.
May Jesus who loved with a wounded heart
Be my love forever.
May I see the face of Jesus in everyone I meet and
May every one I meet see the face of Jesus in me.
And God will bless us
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen
A Psalm of Yearning (42)
Like the deer that yearns for running streams,
so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life;
when can I enter and see the face of God?
My tears have become my bread, by night, by day,
as I hear it said all the day long: “Where is your God?”
These things will I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I would lead the rejoicing crowd into the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving, the throng wild with joy.
Why are you cast down, my soul? why groan within me?
Hope in God; I will praise yet again, my savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me as I think of you,
from the country of Jordan and Mount Hermon, from the hill of Mizar.
Deep is calling on deep, in the roar of waters;
your torrents and all your waves swept over me.
By day the Lord will send forth loving kindness;
by night I will sing to the Lord, praise the God of my life.
I say to God, my Rock: “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning, oppressed by the foe?”
With cries that pierce me to the heart my enemies revile me,
saying to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?
Hope in God; I will praise yet again, my savior and my God.
A More Informal Eucharist
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.
Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.
When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” (John 21:1-19 NLT)
Two fish fresh from Galilee bleed on Jesus’ hands.
They stare dumbly into a chastened sky.
Galilee’s hills are scrubby and thick with dust.
Jesus’ feet stir up clouds that land timidly on his skin.
The fish ride through the air in Jesus’ hands, gaze
at the hard dry world. Brushing a rock
with twigs, he lays them down and makes a fire.
He slits the fish tenderly as if remembering,
sets their innards and eyes on the sand for birds.
Small flames lick at the fish’s soft flesh.
lake water laps at Jesus’ feet
as he bends to wash blood from his scars.
(Ruth Golding, Yellow Doors)
A CELTIC MEAL WITH JESUS
Leader: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
Leader: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them to the Lord.
Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
All: It is indeed right, for you made us, and before us, you made the world we inhabit, and before the world, you made the eternal home in which, through Christ, we have a place.
All that is spectacular, and all that is plain have their origin in you;
All that is lovely, all who are loving point to you as their fulfillment.
And grateful as we are for the world we know
and the universe beyond our understanding,
we particularly praise you, whom eternity cannot contain,
for coming to earth and entering time in Jesus.
For his life which informs our living,
for his compassion which changes our hearts,
for his clear speaking
which contradicts our harmless generalities,
for his enduring presence,
his innocent suffering,
his fearless dying,
his rising to life breathing forgiveness,
we praise you and worship him.
Here, too, our gratitude rises
for the promise of the Holy Spirit,
who even yet, even now,
confronts us with your claims
and attracts us to your goodness.
Therefore we gladly join our voices
to the song of the Church
on earth and in heaven:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord,
God of Power and Might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
And now, lest we believe that our praise alone fulfils your purpose,
we fall silent and remember him who came because words were not enough.
Setting our wisdom, our will, our words aside,
emptying our hearts, and bringing nothing in our hands,
we yearn for the healing, the holding, the accepting,
the forgiving which Christ alone can offer.
All: Merciful God, send now, in kindness, your Holy Spirit to settle on this bread and wine and fill them with the fullness of Jesus.
And let that same Spirit rest on us, converting us from the patterns of this passing world, until we conform to the shape of him whose food we now share.
Leader: Among friends, gathered round a table,
Jesus took bread, and broke it, and said,
‘This is my body - broken for you.’
Later he took a cup of wine and said,
‘This is the new relationship with God
made possible because of my death.
Take it, all of you, to remember me.’
Jesus, firstborn of Mary,
All: Have mercy on us.
Leader: Jesus, Saviour of the world,
All: Have mercy on us.
Leader: Jesus, monarch of heaven,
All: Grant us peace.
Leader: He whom the universe could not contain,
is present to us in this bread.
He who redeemed us and called us by name
now meets us in this cup.
So take this bread and this wine.
In them God comes to us
so that we may come to God.
THE PEACE (standing together)
Leader: Christ who has nourished us, is our peace.
Strangers and friends, male and female, old and young,
he has broken down the barriers to bind us to him and to each other.
Having experienced his goodness,
let us share his peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
All: And also with you.
(Take a moment and offer the peace of Christ to one another)
THE SHARING OF THE BREAD AND WINE
Leader: The Body of Christ is broken
for the life of the world.
Here is Christ coming to us in bread and in wine.
The Gifts of God for the People of God.
All: Thanks be to God!
All: Offering a blessing & prayer to one another
All: O God our Father, who throughout history gave people like us the gifts of courage, faith, and cheerfulness, to carry the word of your Gospel to every creature.
Grant, we pray, a like spirit to your friends here, even at this present time. Further in all things the purpose of this community of your friends, that hidden things may be revealed to us, and new ways found to touch the hearts of all. May we preserve with each other sincere charity and peace, and, if it be your will, grant that this holy place of your abiding be continued still to be a sanctuary and a light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
We go in peace, in friendship, and hospitality, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
“Where Have I Noticed God?"
- Loving God quiet me down to listen to my life and your presence in it.
- Reflecting on the last day or week, what hints of God have I noticed?
- Where did I notice God's friendship in my life?
- Have I noticed any acts of friendship given me?
- Have I noticed times when I was truly a friend to another
- Have I noticed times when I was impatient, critical or inattentive to the needs of a friend?
- What have I noticed my friend Jesus saying to me about all this?
Prayer for the Grace to Age Well
When the signs of age begin to mark my body
(and still more when they touch my mind);
when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off
strikes from without or is born within me;
when the painful moment comes
in which I suddenly awaken
to the fact that I am ill or growing old;
and above all at that last moment
when I feel I am losing hold of myself
and am absolutely passive within the hands
of the great unknown forces that have formed me;
in all those dark moments, O God,
grant that I may understand that it is you
(provided only my faith is strong enough)
who are painfully paring the fiber of my being
in order to penetrate to the very marrow
of my substance and bear me away within yourself.
(Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ)
Lactantius’ Third Century Counsel to Constantine
…. One God who gave being and life to all, who wished us all to be equal, and to be alike in our moral dignity as we are in our moral inadequacies. Human beings had the same terms of life, and an equal longing for eternal fellowship. No
one was excluded from the benefits of heaven, or from a place in the daylight. It was the one power that nurtured the earth for the benefit of all, and sustained us, not as slave or master, but as free and worthy. Within the divine providence, no one was exempt from the obligations of the moral life or from its privileges. (as quoted in Disciples for All nations. Lamen Sanneh. Pp212-213)
I thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(I who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
E.E. Cummings 1894-1962