Walking forty days, an average of 16 miles a day for about five to six hours from Easter to Ascension meant that I had substantial amount of time to focus on the voice of the Risen Lord say, ‘Peace be with you’ and respond to it in contemplative prayer and speak to people I met, about it. The key outcome of this pattern of contemplative prayer on a singular invocation of a Divine Life (Risen Lord) is a fundamental change in my understanding of peace. I would like to explore something here on this business of ‘Peace’ and ‘Peace Making.’
The encounters I experienced on Trinity Sunday at the Sung Eucharist with Baptism and the Fellowship afterwards, my reflections on that experience, was brought to a sharp focus on Monday morning as I said Morning Prayers in the company of the few others online. The Readings were of particular stimulus for this blog post. Also, my email to the congregation on the Trinity Sunday morning commenting on the past week was generally received with ‘thank you’. However, I was counselled by a fellow Trustees and friend to be mindful of commenting on media coverage of situations in the church. I would like to offer my apology should what I said in my email was not compassionate and Godly. I believe you should make up your own mind about what we have heard in the media and pray for God to heal and transform our Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Ross Hempseed reported the completion of Platinum Jubilee Walk on the 31st of May 2022 Aberdeen minister completes 40-day walk to London whilst helping those suffering mental health issues and suicide (pressandjournal.co.uk). Marc Horne reported on Thursday last week Charity regulator investigates ‘misleading’ accounts of church | Scotland | The Times. And this report was published on last Saturday Church under scrutiny paid legal fees to trustee partner’s firm | Scotland | The Times
Reflections in my Letter to St Andrews Network on Trinity Sunday 2022 was influenced by these three pieces of news. While I felt we can do nothing but pray and invite you the People of God who have proved beyond doubt your commitment to prayer, to pray; I am equally compelled by the spirit of truth to do the work of a Peace Maker.
Now returning to the change I experience as a result of 40 days of walk through our blessed Great Britain, I am mindful that I am beginning to hear the Scriptures distinctly differently now from how I have done at various stages of my life. Hearing the Scriptures in the Hebrew and Greek Bibles of the Christian Faith is a transformative work of the Spirit. I have read the Bible cover to cover once a year from the age of 12 when I learnt that Isaac Newton wrote more on the Bible than on Science. I read it devoutly and I read it as literature. I loved the poetry and I loved the stories. The wit of the gospels filled my heart with joy like none other. I have kept company with Jesus far too much. But my experience during the Platinum Jubilee Walk that I had with the Risen Lord in the Eastertide of 2022 is something unique and powerful like no other. I believe, you did it with your prayers for which I am deeply indebt. It will have consequences for St Andrew’s, for the Scottish Episcopal Church and I pray, for the Anglican Communion and beyond.
I began the walk on Easter Sunday with a singular purpose of carrying the message of the Risen Lord into the land of the birth of Authorised Version of the Holy Bible, ‘Peace be with you.’ I was on a mission and I found my vocation affirmed in the course of that Mission and now I am beginning to see the meaning of the words of the Canon Precentor at York Minster, ‘You are a captive to peace.’ I hear the scriptures differently and I find it deeply transformative. So, I return to the experiences of Trinity Sunday and Scripture readings for Trinity Monday Morning Prayer. (I made the Trinity Monday up)
Experiences of Trinity Sunday
The scripture readings from a. the wisdom of the Proverbs, b. St Paul’s daring claim to peace in the sharing the Glory of God and c. the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ to bless us with the gift of the Holy Spirit came as a bolt that will shake the foundations of corruption. The Spirit of Truth who guides us into all Truth set me reflecting on the Trinity as the expression of God’s love for us.
Darren Lock was baptised as part of the Sung Eucharist. He came on Thursday to ask for Baptism as a means of finding the Grace of God and peace of mind from the torments of mental ill health . We explored the meaning and significance of it and he asked to be baptised on Sunday. He was nervous but was much encouraged and supported by the presence of his classmate Mark Walker who was a great companion on my walk. During the Baptism, the Nwajiuba Girls, Zara and Chidram sang, ‘When Jesus say, ‘YES’ no body can say ‘No’. Darren punched the air and declared his commitment to following Jesus. We pray God will answer his prayers for peace.
We gathered for fellowship afterwards in the John Skinner Centre when one of the people who made a submission to the Torrance Report mentioned that the nightmares have returned as the news of the denial of ‘bullying and harassment’ were dismissed as ‘rumours’ appeared in the Times article on Saturday. I was deeply troubled by it and spent the rest of the day thinking and praying about it. How do I respond to this emergence of Trauma to the news of ‘bullying’ denial.
Morning Prayer on Monday the 13th of June 2022
On Trinity Monday I said Morning Prayers online with a few people joining in. The 1st Lesson was from Joshua 7, the record of the defeat of Israel by the weakest enemy of Ai due to the sin of one man, Achan. It takes just one person to bring defeat and disgrace to the entire community and the issue of dealing with such a person is an unprecedented and unpleasant challenge to the defeated and traumatised community. How do we hear God today in the light of Joshua 7 given all that we know, heard and have experienced? What should I do as a ‘Peace Maker’ to bring peace to the one in my care as the Priest of Christ, traumatised and troubled?
The second lesson from the tenth chapter of the Gospel according to St Luke, the Parable of the Good Samaritan simply confirmed the message of the 1st Lesson. I have seen someone wounded and bleeding in my way on Trinity Sunday. I have tried to walk past the wounded and traumatised, the first time. I do the THURSDAYS IN BLACK in solidarity with the World Council of Churches movement towards a world without rape and violence. Should I walk on by so that my peace is not disturbed or do I risk being attacked by the religious mob for stepping out to pour the oil and the wine in the wound of my sisters in Christ? I hope you see my distress and dilemma with the situation in our diocese.
I am reminded of the parable of a man who was woken up in the middle of the night by his friend looking for food for his visitors. And Jesus goes on to teach about the need for persistence in prayer. His affirmation was that God will hear our prayers. Will you give a scorpion if you child asked for an egg? Will you give ‘Mediation’ if your daughters ask for truth and justice? No amount of Thursdays in Black is going to heal my sister who is traumatised and having nightmares.
I remain in prayer even when I look for truth and justice in vein. I hope you see my struggle!
I can’t pray and I won’t pray. Lord teach us to pray.