Second Sunday of Epiphany
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This week we have entered the winter days of January. All the excitement of the Christmas season has ended with the celebration of Epiphany, the Christmas decorations have come down, the darkness of winter is still with us and the weather, is inclement and unpredictable. That said, I had the most beautiful walk on Tuesday where the sun was shining and just a bit of a hint of what spring will be was in the air. That little hint of course went back into hiding with the snow fell later in the week. We are truly in Winter now, even if some of the trees have little buds swelling and the birds still sing and flock about the bird feeders and twitter in the bushes. And while these little hints of spring to come bring joy, the lockdown and our continued concern and anxiety for each other and the world can be a bit much.
I find much solace at this time in my prayers, as do many of you. I especially enjoy listening to Dean Willis’s morning prayers from Canterbury Cathedral and his seemingly endless menagerie of pets. I spent a lot of time in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral when I lived in Canterbury and did research in the archives, and I still can’t figure out where all the places depicted in his morning prayers are! I even tried using google satellite map to figure it out. Suffice to say the deanery garden is a lot bigger than I ever thought! Link to Canterbury Cathedral
Anyhow, back to Dean Willis this week. He is reading from the Gospel of Mark and his reading in the first chapter really struck me, especially as we are in the doldrums of January. The reading begins in chapter 1, verse 21, and what we find here is a day in the life of Jesus and his disciples. And it reminds us that Jesus, like us, lived each day – not just the big events of his life. I find this both comforting and inspirational. The day is a sabbath day, and Jesus begins with worship and this worship includes teaching. And we see that after teaching, comes healing – the man with the unclean spirit is made whole again, and that which torments him is forced to depart. Worship prepares us for healing, because when you choose to be in the presence of God, God is able to be most fully with you and that which attempts to separate us from God must depart.
The day progresses with fellowship, as Jesus goes to the home of Simon Peter, and Andrew for Sabbath meal. This year we have learned what Jesus wants us to know most emphatically, the importance of fellowship. And again, when joined together in fellowship, healing occurs. This time Simon Peter and Andrew’s mother, who is ill, is relieved of her illness, and gets up and serves the Lord. We, when we are in fellowship with others, also find that the good and wholesome response to fellowship is service. Here we have such a beautiful day depicted: Teaching, healing, fellowship, service. But the day isn’t over yet.
All of these activities, now overflow from church, from home, into the community with the evening spent in wider healing based in the deep love of our Savior for every member of society, no matter how or with what they are afflicted. And then with the darkness comes a period of rest.
But the 24 hours is not over yet. Jesus awakes and takes himself to a quiet place by himself for prayer. Because in prayer we find God in a one to one moment where we are refreshed and in ourselves made whole. And finally, the disciples seek Jesus out – just as each day it is our joy and our blessing to seek for our Lord. And the day begins again.
I would encourage everyone to spend a little time with this ‘day in the life’ of Jesus because it speaks powerfully to our own day to day existence. The Gospels and indeed the entire Bible is made up of so many fantastic, and awe-inspiring events, but this passage reminds us that these are all set within the context of a day to day life that is precious beyond measure. Even in the dark days of a Yorkshire Winter.
The peace and love of God through our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all each day,
Revd Professor Jessica Malay
Almondbury with Farnley Tyas