As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Monday 27th April 2020
‘The lark ascending’
This is your day
and we shall praise you!
This is your day
and we shall declare your name!
This is your day,
and we shall worship
a risen Saviour and our King!
Early this morning I was out walking the dogs – a very playful Golden Retriever called Melville and a strong willed Westie called Magnus. The path I sometimes walk takes me quickly out of the village, up a hill between fields, across a burn (great for getting the dogs clean) and into an area of woodland. As I walk I am usually listening to the sounds that surround me. Overhead the sound of helicopters going to and from Dyce, ferrying workers to offshore platforms. Aircraft from Stavanger, Schiphol airport or London also heading to or from the airport. Distant traffic on the road in and out of the village.
These sounds (apart from the helicopters) are usually neither disturbing or intrusive. And then there are the sounds of creation. In the winter flocks of geese honking and near dawn or dusk the local Tawny Owl and occasional Barn Owl making their presence heard. In the spring and summer, the sound of skylarks soaring and the distant drumming of woodpeckers.
One of the few benefits of the current lockdown is the absence of noise. (Unless of course you have a house full of frustrated children!) There is a significant reduction in traffic, fewer aircraft, and less people out and about. With less noise produced by human activity, the sounds of creation have become even more noticeable. Even the skylarks appear to be singing louder! I don’t know how much longer the lockdown will last for and I yearn for the routines of life to be restored, but I am enjoying the silence.
Also present out on this morning’s walk was something slightly unusual. There was a man walking without a dog and wearing headphones. Of course that is his right and his business. Maybe he was listening to a fine piece of classic music? But it seemed a shame. In the same way that so many people miss the spiritual dimension of life because skewed priorities, busyness and materialism, the man with the headphones was missing out the sounds of creation. Missing out on the connectedness with the world around him, the ebbs and flows of the seasons, the sound of the lark ascending.
God the Refuge of His People
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song for Alamoth.
God is our refuge and strength,
A] very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the [b]midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the [c]tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be [d]moved;
God shall help her, just [e]at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
the Empty Tomb
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Two small details for this morning’s Bible readings. In Psalm 46, verse 10 is the phrase ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ And in our reading from John’s Gospel comes the story of how Mary Magdalene in the sacred space between night and dawn journeyed to Jesus tomb. Notice the connection here. Both passages imply stillness and silence. These are places where we are most likely to encounter the reality of God and where God is doing his deepest work.
Where are the places you most frequently encounter God’s presence?
Why not use the opportunities of the lockdown to rediscover the sounds of creation?
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church
Heavenly Father, open our hearts to the silent presence of the spirit of your Son. Lead us into that mysterious silence where your love is revealed to all who call.
In the silence of this time may all the suffering violence and confusion of the world encounter the power that will console, renew and uplift the human spirit.
May this silence be a power to open the hearts of men and women to the vision of God, and so to each other in love and peace, justice and human dignity.
May all who are weighed down by the problems of humanity find release giving thanks for the wonder of human life.
We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.
A Blessing of Solitude
May you recognise in your life the presence, power and light of your soul.
May you realise that you are never alone and that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realise that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the façade of your life there is something beautiful, good and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
May all that is unforgiven in you, be released.
May your fears yield their deepest tranquilities.
May all that is unliven in you, blossom into a future, graced with love.
May the grace of God uphold you,
the peace of God surround you,
the love of God flow from you
and the strength of God protect
and bring you safely through this day
All things bright and beatiful (John Rutter)