A reflection for the Second Sunday after Trinity and D-Day.

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Jesus, in Mark 3:24. 

“Teamwork wins wars. I mean teamwork among nations, services and men. All the way down the line from the GI and the Tommy to us brass hats.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe.

The D-Day coverage this week was very moving, with the dwindling number of veterans gathering for probably the last time to share their stories and memories. The accounts of what was organised and experienced were remarkable and Eisenhower’s comments about teamwork were validated by events as well as the individual actions of so many which also made a difference. There has been some negativity over the UK’s Prime Minister leaving earlier than most to record a TV interview, for which he has apologised, but one centenarian even marked the occasion by getting married to his sweetheart aged 96! That remarkable generation and all they did has been heard and honoured, for which thanks are given as the challenges to democracy and peace are faced today. 

It was clear in the coverage that little things made a huge difference. Maureen Sweeney was a young woman who was appointed as a Post Office assistant in Blacksod in Western Ireland but she had no idea that weather reporting was part of her duties. She adapted well to this and sent back vital details that delayed the invasion by a day – but what if she hadn’t agreed to it or had not been so diligent, hers being the only forecast accurately reporting the probable improvement in the weather that led to the delay until 6th June? What if de Valera, the Irish Taoiseach – caught between IRA republicans favouring the Nazi cause and those supporting British politicians – had decided not to allow the sharing of this information with the UK as he did? What if James Stag, the weather forecaster advising the Allied commanders, had dismissed Maureen’s notes as a mistake? All these things were to have profound consequences. 

Maureen had no idea at the time of the significance of her reports – but they mattered hugely because the Germans did not have access to information from the Atlantic and thought the bad weather would continue. What if the same had applied to the Allies and they had gone ahead during the storm? Rommel believed his weather reports, accurate for the smaller area to which they were confined, and went back to Germany for his wife’s birthday. He was not present when D-Day began – what if he had been? Due to the forecasts, German commanders had been called to a planning meeting – all their regiments were without them. What if they had been there? It was also significant that Hitler took a nap and, his aides not liking to wake him up, let him sleep on – as a result, Panzer divisions, crack troops with tanks, were not quickly mobilised. What if he’d been awoken and they had been ordered in? 

On a wider basis, the individual actions and sabotage of the French resistance affected German communications, just as the recruitment of double spies and false information created confusion regarding where the invasion would actually happen. The forward planning creating pipelines under the sea for fuel and Mulberry harbours for supplies, as well as some troops landing with heavy packs, weapons and even bicycles to carry, showed the huge scale of detail and expectation for which all gave some and some gave all, D-Day being just the start of the Battle of Normandy which killed and wounded so many. As one veteran remarked, some of those who lived with the terrible cost and dreadful memories of this found it created, ”A cloak of sorrow that has never really gone away.” Another commented that, “It was history. We didn’t realise it – we were living history.” 

In our generation, we are also living history, some of which may bring sorrow as well as hope. As we reflect on the cost of the freedom won for us, what are the apparently little things being faced in our lives that, given to God, could make a huge difference? 

A D-Day prayer: God our refuge and strength, as we remember those who faced danger and death in Normandy eighty years ago, grant us courage to pursue what is right, the will to work with others and the strength to overcome tyranny and oppression. This we pray through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Priest Guardian.

Reflection for the First Sunday after Trinity

“Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” 

Jesus, in today’s Gospel Mark 2:23-3:6.

‘Nobody is above the law’ – slogan on a banner regarding Donald Trump’s conviction.

Today’s Gospel contains two controversial incidents from Jesus’ early ministry. The first occurs in a cornfield as he and the disciples are making their way through it and they pluck some of the grain to eat. The Pharisees accuse them of acting unlawfully on the Sabbath, the day of rest for Jews, but Jesus reminds them of David and his men who ate the bread reserved for priests when they were hungry fugitives. By breaking the rules, Jesus suggests that the Sabbath was made for humankind and not that humans must observe its customary laws when in need. David was fed, just as the man with the withered hand was also healed, on the Sabbath. Restoring the man to fullness of life angers the Pharisees so much that Mark states that they began to conspire with the Herodians to destroy Jesus – and this is only chapter three!

This week has focussed on American law with the conclusion of the first trial of former President Donald Trump who has been found guilty of all thirty-four charges of falsifying business records to conceal payments to the adult actress Stormy Daniels. He has become the first President to face possible imprisonment as a result yet, despite this and trials for further felonies in the pipeline, Trump stood outside the court afterwards and declared, ”I am very innocent.” Having condemned the trial, the judge, the jury and his political opponents, he has announced his decision to appeal and to conduct his presidential campaign for the next election from a prison cell if necessary. In the run-up to November’s vote, Trump has already polarised the electorate and created huge divisions in the American judicial system – and this was only May 30th!

All this is in the context of the General Election and the political machinations in the UK where, if both are elected, a former Director of Public Prosecutions who is now Leader of the Labour Party might be expected to liaise with a convicted felon if they become Prime Minister and the next President. These are complex matters and they may not come to pass – but if they do and this is the will of the people, what will be the consequences for the law and democracy if that happens? 

This week marked the thirtieth anniversary of my priesting, although I was a deacon for four years beforehand. As one of the first women to be ordained in the Church of England, I well remember the consequences and controversies of this huge change which divided the institution itself and created legal as well as religious issues which are still not fully resolved. The turmoil all this created was complex and not least was the irony of women who discerned a call to priesthood before it was legally possible and those who opposed this change to the point of leaving the Anglican church over it.

It was a difficult and challenging time for all involved, heralding other legal changes which are still ongoing as the Church responds to the demands made of it in our day. 

As Jesus responded then to the demands made of him and his followers, he urged them to consider whether they should do good or harm on the Sabbath and whether they should save life or kill. As the struggle for rest, justice and the interpretation of the law continues in our day with the constant intensity of media scrutiny and the demands of busy-ness as well as business, perhaps his question could be broadened. How, in our differing yet challenging situations, can life be spiritually enhanced rather than deadened on a daily basis and not just the Sabbath?

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.

Reflection for Trinity Sunday and the feast day of St Melangell.

‘And just as he was coming out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” ‘ The baptism of Jesus, from Mark 1:9-12. 

This image of the Trinity in the baptism of Jesus reminds us of the importance of family relationships for our own development and growth as Jesus is baptised by his second cousin, John the Baptist. The voice of God in heaven is heard, just as the God the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove, that symbol of peace and hope. The God of relational love informs our relationships, too, just as relationships were key to St Melangell, whose feast day was celebrated here today with an exhibition of images of her. 

What was Melangell like? Her appearance has been subject to a great deal of speculation and there are many images of her. One icon shows her arriving in the valley dressed in fine clothes, looking a rather frail figure with blond hair and blue eyes. Another depicts her more robustly with sturdy forearms developed through manual labour, the long, dark hair and eyes of a Celt and clad in a sensible brown woollen tunic. A further image shows Melangell hiding from the Prince, whilst wearing a velvet dress which highlights her figure and makes her look like a sexy Maid Marian. 

One painting shows her in a cream dress with plaited ginger hair, whilst another depicts a rather severe haircut and dark clothing. A felted picture indicates two hares with her and there are many other images of her as a goddess, an earth mother and a feminist. One drawing denotes Melangell as part of creation in the form of a tree, the spirals of which are similar to those in a beautiful embroidered textile of the saint worked by Catherine Millar and designed by her son Timothy – some of these images will shortly be available to see on stmelangell.org

A lino cut of Saved, a Modern Melangell, depicts the saint wearing a necklace and cardigan as she comforts the frightened hare. Perhaps the most thought-provoking is a sculpture of Melangell by Fr Rory Geoghegan with her hair blowing in the wind and the hare hiding under her cloak. She carries her staff of office but has no facial features other than a vague outline – there are no defined eyes, lips or nose. In that sense, she is Everywoman, representing and challenging all of us – as she cared for the creatures round her, so could we; as she avoided conflict with Brochwel and they brought out the best in each other, that’s a challenge facing us, too; and as she and the sisters who joined her gave hospitality and care to the pilgrims coming here, so we can help to look after one another. 

Melangell led a life of great contrast, being born into influence as the daughter of an Irish King or Chieftain, then spending at least a decade in prayerful solitude in the valley, before meeting Prince Brochwel, establishing the church here and finally living for thirty years or more in community with the other iwomen who came to join her here as word spread of what had happened. Hers was a life of great contrast and change, just as are those of so many in the changing circumstances of our day. Of course, there are those who say that she never existed and that she is simply a myth, but it doesn’t seem to me that a church would be dedicated and a shrine built for someone who never existed or that land where she and the sisters may have provided rest, food and care for those who needed it would still be called the sanctuary land to this day. The tradition of healing, sanctuary and hospitality that she and the unnamed women with her established is still very much evident here today and we celebrate it, with so much more, this Trinity Sunday as we honour those who have established and entrusted this place and tradition to our generation. Melangell, Brochwel and the community here answered God’s call, just as we in our day face the continuing challenge to do so in the circumstances in which we live. She is very much a saint for our times as well as hers and as we in relationship with God and each other consider Melangell’s example this Trinity Sunday, thanks be to God for this woman of faith, courage and relational character whose legacy still inspires so much today.

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Priest Guardian.

Reflection for Pentecost and the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino. 

”Mortal, can these bones live?“ Ezekiel 37:3.

 ”Stink of death was everywhere. And there, down below, was that beautiful valley full of red poppies…. Here an atmosphere of death and destruction and there, beauty, peace and quiet. I thought: how can these two worlds coexist side by side? But that’s how it was.” Veteran of the Battle of Monte Cassino. 

Today is Pentecost, originally a harvest festival on the fiftieth day after Passover. It also became linked with Moses being given the Law on Mount Sinai when, ‘There were sounds and lightnings…and God descended upon it in fire.’ Exodus 19:16,18. The people ‘saw the voices’ of God, which the rabbis interpreted as being in 70 different languages so that all nations could understand what was being said. Exodus 20:18. This was also linked with the skeletons in Ezekiel’s vision being restored to new life and the coming of the Holy Spirit to those gathered in the upper room with the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, tongues of flame and the ability to speak in other languages as they were filled with the Spirit. Acts 2:1-4. 

Those first followers of Jesus had been through three years of ministry with him, his arrest, crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension. What a range of emotions they must have experienced as they now awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit, the power that enabled them to realise that this was not an ending as Jesus left them but a new beginning as they spoke of the Good News which lead to the development of the worldwide Christian church. From bewilderment, death and anguish had come life and hope. Alleluia!

This is also the 80th anniversary of the ending of the Battle of Monte Cassino after four months of fighting. Atop the rocky hill above the town of Cassino near Rome was the abbey, the first house of the Benedictine Order established by Benedict himself in the sixth century and for which he developed his Rule which is still in use today. The abbey had been the subject of many attacks over the years and was no longer functioning as a monastery but monks were still there, looking after its many treasures. At the time of the battle, the abbey was wrongly thought to be occupied by German troops and was left in ruins by the Allied attacks although the oldest part containing the tomb of Benedict was spared. Nearly a quarter of a million troops from six continents fought over the abbey, although the monks were able to flee to Rome and preserve many of the treasures. However, civilians sheltering within the abbey were killed, as were about 55,000 Allied soldiers and 20,000 German troops. Around 312,000 Allied and 434,000 German casualties also resulted, leading many to believe that, when victory was claimed at such cost over what was now ruined, it was a pyrrhic victory in what was called ‘The Hardest Fought Battle’ of the Second World War. 

A pyrrhic victory is named after King Pyrrhus whose triumph over the Romans in 279 BC killed so many of his troops that he had to end his campaign. However, despite the bloodshed and destruction at Monte Cassino, a new abbey and community was rebuilt after the war, fulfilling its motto Succisa Virescit  – Cut down, it grows anew. It lives on, functioning on a different basis and now also associated with the battle. 

The first disciples discovered that new life grew from death and destruction, of which Pentecost is a celebration, and the same was true at Monte Cassino and elsewhere. But, with so much death and destruction ongoing in our world today, coexisting with beauty, peace and quiet, we also have difficult choices to make as we face the same question as Ezekiel: “Mortal, can these bones live?” Perhaps the best way of honouring both Pentecost and those who laid down their lives for our freedom is to ensure that, with the power of the Holy Spirit given to us at baptism, we do live – and not just exist.

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Priest Guardian

Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter and Christian Aid Week. 

 “…Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” From Acts 1:6-11.

‘Christ, whose glory fills the skies.’ First line of the hymn by Charles Wesley. 

This week, many people have been looking up to the heavens to glimpse the glory of the Northern Lights, enhanced after a huge geomagnetic Sun storm. They were at their best on Friday night but, although many looked for them again on Saturday, they weren’t so widely visible. The magnificent displays gave a foretaste of the glory of which Wesley wrote, a reminder of Christ’s return at the Second Coming prophesied in the Bible. The power of the storms also meant that electronic communications via satellites might have been affected, just as the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost transformed the lives of those first disciples, energising their mission and the growth of the early church.

That power is available to us today, too, in great and small ways. This is the Seventh Sunday of Easter and also the Sunday after Ascension Day when the Ascension of Jesus is a focus. However, this year’s reflections for Christian Aid highlight Burundi in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, where climate change and extreme poverty affect the welfare of many families. One woman, Aline Nibogora, found herself on the streets and separated from her children after domestic abuse ended her marriage, facing a future which could not be planned when each day was simply about survival. However, she was eventually able to attend a Christian Aid training course which then gave access to a small loan which enabled her to grow a few avocados and peanuts. That gave Aline an income which meant that she could eventually buy a bicycle to transport her goods and then find a place to rent so that she had somewhere to live and could have some of her children back. With hard work, teaching and careful planning, she and her family now have hope for the future. 

A few avocados and peanuts made a difference that is perhaps overlooked when shopping – what is purchased and where can make a huge difference to the grower. However, climate change causing droughts, floods and landslides means that many challenges lie ahead for Aline and her family – but a strong community where a neighbour is regarded as part of the family may mean that resources and help can be shared. Perhaps we have much to learn from Aline’s hard work and perseverance as we consider what challenges us today and how we can rise above what threatens to drag us down. The Ascension of Jesus also brings hope as he takes humanity into the heart of heaven and enables us to see the glory in creation that is all around us – whether the Northern Lights are visible or not!

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Priest Guardian.

Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter – Rogation Sunday.

”Love one another…… I chose you…to bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures.” Jesus, in John 15:9-17

”You weren’t kind. You made that person feel worse than they did when you turned up. Your job is to be kind to these people and do what you can for them. Because in their kind of minute, hour, week, year of need they’re asking you for help. The one thing you can be is kind.” 

London ambulance paramedic, after a patient got upset and left the vehicle. 

Rogation comes from the Latin rogare, meaning to ask, and is the time when God’s blessing was traditionally asked on the sowing of the seed – a good harvest would be a necessity as the winter would otherwise be bleak. The beating of the bounds also took place then, marking the boundaries of the village, praying for protection for it and checking that fences, walls and gates were in good order to keep in the cattle and livestock. In bygone days and without the cheap imports and pesticides available nowadays, people were dependent on their land and its yield. The extensive recent floods and bad weather have meant that, in some areas today, crops can’t yet be sown or have rotted as the ground is still too wet. With parts of Europe in a similar position, and the war affecting Ukrainian supplies, potatoes, root vegetables and grain are already being affected as cheap alternatives are not so available. A new awareness may result, with respect for use of the land, rivers and seas in the spotlight due to recent pollution levels in the Thames being an issue in the Boat Race and water companies.  

Rogationtide still has significance, especially in rural areas, and a Procession is usually held at St Melangell’s. On one occasion, we were in the churchyard, considering the ancient yews that are thought to be at least two thousand years old and I was very surprised when a head poked out of a large hole in the trunk and asked, “What are you doing here?” “More to the point, what are you doing there?” I replied – every part of the yew Taxus Baccata is poisonous, except the aril or berry which contains the most toxic part: the seed. I was concerned for her welfare, but she replied cheerily, “Don’t mind me – I’m just a witch come to find wood for my wand.” You never know who’s here!

In the Dark Ages, it was sometimes suggested that, where there’s a church, the devil would set up a chapel on the North or dark side and might be attracted to the red arils which could kill him. Sadly, any news bulletin shows that the power of evil is alive in our world today just as it was then but then, if a death was caused by anything infectious, the grave would be lined with yew in the hope that it would kill any spores and protect those who visited it. That has now been harnessed by scientists and pharmacists in the development of Taxol and Tamoxifen for the treatment of cancer in chemotherapy – those Dark Ages still bring enlightenment for which many have reason to be thankful.

Perhaps there are experiences in our backgrounds and relationships that are toxic and could poison goodwill if allowed to or be used to enable healing instead? Like that harassed London paramedic, as we battle wrongdoing the many demands made of us may mean that love and kindness do not always prevail. In the Gospel today, Jesus commands his followers to bear much fruit – this Rogationtide, what sorts of seeds are being sown in our lives and what yield of fruit is likely to result?

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Priest Guardian.

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter – the Vine and Co-op Live.

”Abide in me as I abide in you…. I am the vine, you are the branches.” 

Jesus in John 15:1-8.

Peter Kay ”is hoping to eventually perform at Europe’s biggest new arena*”….“*if they actually open the place”. His media post after problems with the Co-op Live Arena. 

The image of the vine is the last of the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus and was shared with his followers at the Last Supper after Judas had left to betray him. This happened in the Gospel according to John, after Jesus had said that he would be leaving them (14:2) and the image of the vine tended by the vinedresser is a fruitful image for the bewildered disciples to cling on to like its tendrils. 

Vine dressing involves very much more than just pruning it. Left untended, vines can put on so much growth that the leaves and woody stems become prolific and the sap is taken up by them rather than producing grapes. They will also run along the ground and become covered in dirt and weeds, whereas the vinedresser will prune them to ensure the fruitfulness of the vine and then raise them up and train the stems so that they will be healthy and produce a good crop. The image of the vine, the vinedresser and the sap is powerfully Trinitarian but Jesus also tells his followers that they are the branches producing the fruit – and pruning is necessary to grow the best grapes so that what remains will become more fruitful.

The key to this is the word ‘abide’, which Jesus uses 11 times in this reading – those branches which abide and remain in the vine will produce a better yield. That stems from the care and skill of the vinedresser as well as the quality of the vine and good pruning and, when the difficulties and challenges of life are encountered, it’s sometimes tempting to think that they are preventing our growth rather than enabling it later on. The continuing cost of living crisis means that cutting back costs and resources can be counter-productive – but can also enable us to cling on to what we have, be thankful for it and use it well.

In the news this week has been the Co-op Live arena in Manchester, where its chief executive has not been able to abide the criticism of its organisation and has been cut off from further involvement with it. At a test run, escalators weren’t working, toilet rolls and hand-driers had not been installed and various safety features had not been completed. That’s perhaps not surprising in a venue that will seat over 20,000 people and contain 32 bars, lounges and restaurants but, after 22 people were killed and over 500 injured by terrorism at a concert in the Manchester Arena in 2017, safety must come first. The regulations are very complicated but the fruits of the builders’ labours as skills dovetail and the venue is readied will be clear to see when the time is right, whatever the calendar dictates. 

The same is so for the vine, the harvest of which is also dependent on other factors such as the weather and location – perseverance and co-operation are key to abiding in the hope of eventually being fruitful, whether for buildings or vineyards. Would Peter Kay agree?!

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday.

”The gatekeeper opens the gate…and the sheep follow him because they hear his voice…. I am the good shepherd.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel John 10:1-11. 

“Jack! Here! Jack! Jack!” The priest Guardian last Sunday.

The set Gospel reading is the reason today’s called Good Shepherd Sunday and my view of it has changed since I took in a sheepdog called Jack a year ago. A border collie, Jack had lived outside on a farm for three years but was no longer required and coming into domesticity was quite a challenge for him – and me!  He has a lovely nature but, recently, has begun to take interest in my neighbour’s pet sheep, Lambie, trying to round her up as is his instinct. She doesn’t want this and the problem is usually solved by having him on his lead when she’s nearby. Last Sunday, however, he slipped away after the service and I didn’t realise this until I saw some of the congregation trying to stop him getting close to Lambie. I was told that, if I called Jack, he might respond to my voice. Not a chance! He was so intent on Lambie that he couldn’t or wouldn’t listen to me and, in the end, it took three people to stop him as, by then, he was circling the yew tree as well as the ewe beneath it and trying to round us all up. Clearly, Jack and I both need to do more training together to learn how to do what’s sometimes demanded of us.

Of all the work Jesus could have chosen, describing himself as a shepherd is significant because the good shepherd cares for the flock and will lay down their life for the sheep if necessary – as did Jesus. This also became painfully true on 12th April when Benjamin Achimir, an Israeli shepherd boy aged 14, was shot and killed as he took his flock to graze in the occupied West Bank near Ramallah. The sheep found their way back home without him.  

Is the same true of us? In times of crisis, are we able to find our way without Jesus our shepherd? David, who wrote in Psalm 23 that, “The Lord is my shepherd” was a shepherd boy and harpist who eventually became the third King of Judah but sometimes lost his way. As a young lad, he was a hero for killing the giant Goliath with his sling but was later also an adulterer with Bathsheba, having arranged for her husband Uriah to be murdered in battle. He seems an unlikely shepherd of his people and did not always listen to God’s voice but nevertheless remained King, although depression took its toll of him. Perhaps because of it all, the psalms he wrote are some of the most beautiful prayers to be found and often very helpful when the going is hard.

Perhaps we find ourselves prone to sadness about how things are in the world or are unable to hear the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd in the cacophony of violence and babble that can so easily drown it out. But if David can serve God despite his faults, so can we – though, like Jack and his new(ish) owner, we may need to listen and respond to his voice more than we do!

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, priest Guardian.

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter

”Touch me and see.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel Luke 24:36-48.

“Touch me – let me feel that it’s real!” Haddy, successful quarter finalist in ‘MasterChef’.

Today’s Gospel is similar to John’s account of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples hiding away in the upper room but there are some significant differences. Luke’s version follows the story of the road to Emmaus where Jesus is recognised in the breaking of bread but then leaves the two travellers with whom he’s been talking and explaining the scriptures. They return to Jerusalem despite it being late and then find the disciples and their companions gathered together without Luke suggesting that the doors are locked as in John’s Gospel. When Jesus then appears, they are afraid and think it must be a ghost so, although he shows them the wounds in his hands and feet, a piece of broiled fish is given to Jesus to eat, which proves to them he’s real. 

Luke says that the disciples were disbelieving and wondering as well as joyful when he comes to them but Jesus then helps them understand the scriptures about the resurrection although he doesn’t breathe upon them the Holy Spirit, for which the disciples are told they must wait. In John, that happens straight away but in Luke’s account in the Acts of the Apostles, it doesn’t occur until Pentecost. However, after he has spoken and eaten with them on the day of resurrection, Luke writes that Jesus takes his followers to Bethany and is taken up into heaven even as he’s blessing them, having first told them that they are witnesses to what has happened. Through what Luke, John and others have written and done, despite the differences in their accounts, that witness has come down the years to us and we, too, are called to be witnesses of these things to those who don’t know of them. 

With over thirty wars ongoing and so much violence, hatred and division in the world, it’s easy to allow it all to eclipse the good news of the resurrection that is also part of life today. As we face our own doubts and fears, we can also encounter the risen Christ amongst us, bringing peace and offering new understanding of what the scriptures and his resurrection mean for us in our time. At communion we, too, can eat with him and find the Spirit’s enlightenment and power enabling us to explore what it means to live with repentance and the forgiveness of sins. 

Jesus invited his followers to see for themselves the wounds he still embodied from what had been done to him and to touch him – his scars from what he’s experienced remain as do ours, whether physical or psychological. Yet Jesus’ first words are of peace with the invitation to see and touch him and, like those first disciples, perhaps we are disbelieving or wondering about the reality of his presence with us. But the peace he brings means that there are times when we may find ourselves also touched or in touch with others as love finds a new way of being and we, too, are surprised by joy. Like Haddy in MasterChef, there are times when we have to pinch ourselves to believe that what’s happening is real. But for it to be so, we have to allow ourselves to draw near to the risen Christ and to let him draw near to us. That’s not easy sometimes but as those first followers were commissioned as witnesses, so are we – peace be with you! 

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.