Thoughts for Today – Episode 24
From the real world, sublime and challenging…
POSTSCRIPT : -
Thank you for travelling with Jane and I over these twenty four chapters of travel around South America and the Caribbean. Again, it has broadened our horizons in restricted times to reflect with you about so many things. Our voyage this time took us to places that tell the story of the changing world. Many of the themes we covered have been part of Andrew Marr’s recent thoughtful BBC documentary on the ‘New Elizabethans’ – part of our story. During this year we have had the major and ongoing issues of ‘Black Lives Matter’, ongoing ‘Climate Emergency’ side by side with the ‘Pandemic’. So many of us have suffered losses of every kind during these months including bereavement.
The theme of ‘Reconciliation’ infuses all these urgent realities - part of the reason we gifted 13 Cathedrals of South America and the Caribbean with the Reconciliation Litany of Coventry, on behalf of the Dean and Cathedral team. Reconciliation is a daily discipline of care to treat people as unique and special whatever their background, beliefs (or none) and country of ethnic origin. To treat our environment with the same reverence in the small as well as large daily actions is part of our own personal responsibility. Travels do highlight the fact that we are all interdependent and vulnerable, as well as strong and creatively innovative.
Christmas is about reconciliation, the heavenly coming into the world in an unmistakable way as a child. The Saviour of the world born in a far-away land during a time of occupation with strict rules of existence and census. Born in unprotected circumstances. Heaven and earth reconciled in an act of human birth, and salvation in humble circumstances but full of power and glory. Bringing shepherds together with those of intergalactic royalty to worship the event of reconciliation of the human and divine in a unique event in history.
Through 25 ports and 15 countries we saw first hand the challenges of climate change and poverty. This was along side political tensions and protest, but never far away were celebrations in dance and food. We enjoyed friendships among the 1200 passengers of differing nationalities and the crew of 500.
All this informed the 52 services, numerous pastoral contacts and liaison with the Medical team on board. Saint Catherine’s and St Peter’s were never far away in the whole experience. The role of Chaplain is such a privilege and is an element of Fred Olsen’s voyages over 21 days long. Part of the role is to assist all the travellers and crew to reflect on their travels and trying to make sense of the whole experience.
One of the most moving services on board was the Ash Wednesday Liturgy when our mortality was expressed in the ashing ceremony. The Coventry Litany was used during this service to inform our prayers, and I attach it here hoping it will be a constant inspiration for the year ahead. Witnessing the school children coming from the church ceremony of ashing in the district of Getsemani, Cartagena (Costa Rica) and giving us warm waves for the occasion was a real highlight of the trip. The first day of Lent, which looks forward to Easter reflects the ever changing horizons of the voyage of life - we look forward not just back. Never has there been a more important time to look forward. It is the daily call of the Kingdom of God to pray for grace for the future and share the gift of Hope.
Thank you for accompanying us along the way over these momentous weeks.
Blessings for Christmas and the New Year of 2021,
Edward and Jane
The Litany of Reconciliation was written by Canon Joseph Poole in 1958 and today is prayed regularly by CCN members around the world, and by many others on an occasional basis. While framed around the seven deadly sins, it serves as a reminder that when we pray about the problems of the world around us, we need to begin by acknowledging the roots of those problems in our own hearts. The Litany is prayed, in a short ceremony taking at most ten minutes, at noon each weekday in Coventry Cathedral and in the Cathedral ruins on Fridays, and absolutely anyone is welcome to join in wherever they are. (CCN stands for the ‘Community of the Cross of Nails’, which is the worldwide network of communities working together to face the challenges of real life through to new life and new possibilities.)
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you