Saturday, 14 April 2018

fresh bread


The smell of baking bread graced the house yesterday. I say ‘graced’ since its promise is of something wholesome, with authentic taste, something to get the juices going in anticipation of the feast to come.

It was my custom in parish ministry to bake a bread-loaf for the first Sunday of the month, when all our churches met together as one, to celebrate Holy Communion together. (That is, those whose duty and joy it was to attend, and not those who said ‘the service is not in our village this morning- I’ll have a day off’). I loved, and still do, the symbolism of one bread, broken in many pieces; something fresh, wholeness, authentic, promising a feast to come.

Which is why I shall, from time to time in retirement, provide a fresh loaf when I celebrate  Communion here, as I shall do today. Yes, it takes time to make; yes, it’s messy on the altar as crumbs tend to be made- small wafers don’t leave this problem; yes, it’s different, and goodness knows, there are plenty in the church who don’t like change. But for those who are prepared to go with it, it offers, I believe, new insights into what Jesus means when he says ‘I am the bread of life’.

After all, as Christians, we are ‘companions on the way’, and the heart of ‘companion’ is com –‘with’, panis- ‘bread’; someone I eat bread, a meal, with; share something filling, satisfying, tasty. I think of Jesus, in the Easter readings making himself known to two disciples at Emmaus as they recognised his actions and intention as he blessed bread, eating with them.

Be known to us in breaking bread, and do not then depart; Saviour, abide with us, and set, thy table in our hearts.- as the old hymn has it.

(no blog next Sunday; normal service resumes on Sunday 22nd) 

Saturday, 7 April 2018

home- where the heart is?

This is the first blog on a new site.
Previous readers may remember that when I was Vicar of Marston Moor parish, I regularly blogged on our parish websites- at Tockwith and at Askham Richard.
So, welcome to this new set of blogs!

I read recently that Margaret Thatcher, after she had left office, in an interview with Vanity Fair remarked that 'Home is where you come to when you've nothing better to do', which seems to me a fairly bleak view of home, and rather disses the ineffable Denis. This brought to mind the equally bleak view espoused by Mary, conversing with Warren, in Robert Frost's poem 'Death of a hired man'.

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there ,                                                                           They have to take you in."

Do these two views say all there is to say about 'home'? I hope not; as far as the faith goes, I would maintain that 'coming home to God' is what my faith, the faith, is all about. That sense of 'gemutlich', homely, welcoming and warm, secure and always there. Ok, for many home is much more bleak, and ok, even if it's good we stray, and at other times we venture out with God into other environments than home, but somehow the notion of God as our 'true home' has captured me, and I find this vision of home stays within me, even if the surrounding landscape looks nothing like home.

The great homecoming story in the scriptures is, of course, the Prodigal Son, so eloquently and movingly depicted by Rembrandt ('The return of the prodigal son', in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg).
The compassion of the father figure, the expression on his face, and the gathering the poor lad into his father via those large hands- all these say far better than I can write, about the 'home' the 'welcome' which God extends to those who set their face towards him.

Easter, among its other meanings, is also a story of homecoming; Jesus the key, the door, the means of welcoming us into God in the richness of  resurrection life. And in this season, I have six weeks to enjoy something of its meaning. I shall enjoy exploring more of this 'true home'.