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Sermons - June 2021

SUNDAY 6th JUNE 2021, ST COLUMBA’S DAY

ST COLUMBA’S, PONT STREET
SUNDAY 6th JUNE 2021, ST COLUMBA’S DAY

“And looking at those who sat around him, Jesus said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:34-5

To whom do I belong and who belongs to me? Family, faith group, skin colour, gender, sexuality, neighbourhood or nation - am I defined by one or all of those things? Sources of great support and comfort, or false impositions that stifle? Loyalties: To whom do I belong and who belongs to me?

In a recent, vivid talk on radio by a young British Sikh, Ranjit Saimbi (Radio 4, Four Thought) explained why he doesn't want to be defined by his cultural heritage. Tracing the journey of his grandparents and parents’ generations he describes the disconnect he has felt with elements of his own Sikh culture.

His grandfather left India and settled In Uganda to make a better life for his family. They prospered, until forced to flee by Idi Amin’s dictat in the 1970’s. So, with others, his parents arrived in Wales, forced to start over in a country they barely recognised.

As a child Ranjit attended the Cardiff gurdwara, housed in a repurposed old church. He recalls those experiences unhappily. It was a place seemingly of unwritten rules, which he did not really comprehend and he struggled with Punjabi, the language in which faith was spoken. For his parents the maintenance of a clearly defined, traditional (perhaps nostalgic) faith and culture were important life-rafts in unfamiliar and sometimes hostile waters. For the young boy, they were too often associated with “chidings.” In time, he attended a school steeped both in rugby and chapel choir; things that influenced and informed his own sense of developing selfhood. And, as he admitted, it has undoubtedly led to tension with his own family and religious culture.

Overall, his talk was both a plea to combat lazy generalisations/assumptions about other people, and an acknowledgment that culture and identity are porous entities – they are not unchanging – or if they do not evolve, they risk ossification.

Family and faith; tradition and invention fall in the gospel spotlight this morning, as Jesus wrestles with his identity and loyalties.

The setting is Nazareth. Jesus has returned home after inaugurating his ministry, and it’s clear from the size and frenzy of the crowds pressing against him that his reputation has preceded him. Much has happened since the carpenter's son first left home. Heavens opening at baptism; forty-day fast in the wilderness; he has driven out unclean spirits, healed the sick, eaten with sinners, chosen his disciples and declared himself the Lord of the Sabbath. This shaking up of things brings alarm,

both to his family, intent on restraining him and more dangerously, the religious authorities. The scribes from Jerusalem, believing him to be in league with Satan. It also brings the crowds.

To the scribes’ accusation, Jesus responds – How can a house, a kingdom, Satan himself – continue to stand, if it is divided against itself? It cannot. Those who accuse Jesus of having an unclean spirit, he condemns in the strongest of terms.

At that moment the message comes through. Your mother and brothers are outside. Jesus surveys the gathering of walking wounded, the misfits, the needy, tax gatherers, prostitutes, the children, the Keystone Cop disciples – and declares: This is my family. You are my mother and my brothers, when you do what God is asking!

I recall an encounter on our church doorstep some years ago: A mid-week morning the church doors open: A young woman, passing by, hesitated at the door, scanning for signs of something. I asked if I could help. “I’m travelling” she said, in an Australian accent. “I’m travelling and I was looking for a Meeting. I saw some folks on your steps and sensed the vibe.” An illustration of that extraordinary network of AA or NA, that provide support, to the regular returner and the traveller, passing through. The unconditional welcome - where there is need, there is help.

In the gospel scene there is a reversal, so characteristic of the upside-down kingdom of God. Outside the house stand the traditional insiders — family and religious folk, the pious, the careful. Inside the house sit the outsiders – they are not the morally perfect. They’re not interested in dogma or piety; they just need love and they seem to have found it in a man who heals the sick and feeds the hungry. In their middle sits Jesus, declaring: “This is my family.”

To those of us tempted to look down on others, to lazily categorise or condemn, there is a gospel warning. “Be careful at all times with our certainties.” Apparently, those claiming moral high ground or special privilege, are furthest from Jesus; least able to make the leap from formal religion, to open-hearted love of God’s beloved, disfigured humanity.

To whom do I belong and who belongs to me?

Jesus is not anti-family. That he prayed to God, using Abba (Dad/Daddy) surely speaks something about his own family life. One of the final actions from the Cross was the placing of his own mother, into the care of the beloved disciple. “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple took her into his home.” John 19:27

“Yes, Jesus divides the house, and that process hurts. But he doesn’t divide it to make us homeless. He divides it to rebuild.” Debie Thomas, Journey with Jesus To raise the bar, widen the circle; to remind us, who we belong to, and reimagine, who we are connected to.

Today’s bulletin carries the intimation that Borderline, the charity that assists homeless and insecurely housed Scots in London is looking for a new Trustee, who is also a member of St Columba’s. Jesus doesn’t divide the house to make us homeless, but to make it more spacious, more welcoming and more beautiful.

Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.

SUNDAY 13th JUNE 2021, 3rd SUNDAY after PENTECOST

ST COLUMBA’S, PONT STREET
SUNDAY 13th JUNE 2021, 3rd SUNDAY after PENTECOST

“A sprig from the lofty top of a cedar…
On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it,
in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live;
in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.” Ezekiel 17:22a, 23

John Muir (1838-1914) was the Scottish-American naturalist,
sometimes known as “John of the mountains” or “Father of the National Parks.”
An early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the USA.
He wrote: “Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life…
If one pine were placed in a town square, what admiration it would excite!
Yet who is conscious of the pine-tree multitudes in the free woods,
though open to everybody?”
Of a visit to the woods, he once recalled:
“I had nothing to do but look and listen and join the trees in their hymns and prayers.”

Fellow American, Henry Thoreau is quoted as saying: “I have great faith in a seed.
Convince me you have a seed there and I am prepared to expect wonders.”

Acorns to oaks; silent and imperceptible growth; flourishing and shelter –
scripture is a veritable garden centre to lure us today.
The very familiar parables of Jesus; the less familiar cuttings/grafting of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel speaks out of a time of calamity –
the period immediately before and after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586BC.
He was probably among the leading citizens of Jerusalem
who had been transported to Babylon in 597BC.
Like the later vision of the valley of dry bones,
summoned to new life by God’s breath/spirit,
here too are words to inspire,
while not ignoring current circumstances.

The central image – God involved – tenderly planting:
“A sprig from the lofty top…. becoming a noble cedar:

On the mountain height of Israel, I will plant it,
in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit….
Under it every kind of bird will live;
in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.” Ezekiel 17:22a, 23

For the exile it is the dream of a restored homeland.
For Christians, there is perhaps an echo of Jesus himself;
the suffering servant, the backwater rabbi,
so little listened to, so ultimately unloved.
Yet whose tree of life has spread in ways beyond imagining,
and in whose shade, we ourselves find shelter.

Then, Jesus, the noble cedar who tells the parables of plants and growth.
First, reminding that while farmers can be as attentive, conscientious, skilful,
ultimately, the profound mystery of growth remains beyond them.
The farmer trusts a process that is ancient, mysterious, cyclical, and sure.
trusts the seeds, soil, sun, shade, clouds and rain.
Yes, he/she participates in the process by planting and harvesting;
pays attention to the seasons, and gets to work when the time is ripe.
But he/she never harbours the illusion that he/she's in charge;
knows that they operate in a realm of mystery.
Just so, says Jesus, the kingdom of God;
Just so, perhaps all our ventures –
especially the realm of faith and love –
it is ultimately God’s work, God’s growth.

The late Eugene Petersen is one of the leading most accessible Christian writers of the past fifty years. A long-time parish minister, before moving to academia;
best known for his translation of the bible, The Message.

Petersen grew up in small-own Montana.
From his teenage years, he recalls a man called Chet Ellingson,
Chet was about ten years older than Petersen - a businessman, a friend of his parents.
He was a Christian, but wore that badge lightly;
as a divorcee he was only allowed a peripheral part in the church of the day.

In the autumn he would take Petersen for early morning hunting trips to the local marshes.
“I shivered there with my twelve-gauge Winchester,
waiting, talking, feeling adult. Chet treated me as an adult, before I was an adult.

I can’t remember him ever instructing me or giving me advice.
There was no hint of condescension or authority.
The faith was simply there, spoken and acted out
in the midst of whatever else we were doing –
shooting, rowing, retrieving; or at times, working or worshipping
or meeting on the street and making small talk.

He wasn’t trying to do anything for me
(and never knew what he was, in fact, doing.)
What he did was become a bridge
on which I travelled from immaturity to maturity,
on my way to becoming “fully alive like Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)
About seed sowers such as Chet Ellingson, Petersen concludes:
“Only in retrospect did we realise the spiritually formative influence they had on us.”
Leap Over the Wall, E Petersen, Pp 23

Jesus’ second parable is the famous, famous mustard seed.
We deploy it all the time to encourage small beginnings –
the significance of the first step, the encouragement to embark.
It is classic Sunday School landscaping.

Yet, maybe this planting is meant for less settled gardens.
According to some, people of Jesus’ day did not plant mustard seeds –
wouldn’t dream of it.
It was a rapid growing weed that would overwhelm other choice plantings.
So, what is Jesus saying when he describes the sacred and the holy
as a tiny, insignificant mustard seed?
What does it mean to take an invasive weed, we would sooner discard than sow –
and declare it to be the heart of God’s kingdom?

And what about all those birds?
The image of the burgeoning bush offering shelter to all the birds of the air is beautiful –
I personally love it.
But like sowing mustard seeds, is it another kind of instructive joke?
Birds after all eat seeds and fruit; cause havoc in cornfields.
Birds are why farmers put up scarecrows.
“But Jesus isn't a scarecrow kind of gardener.” Debie Thomas

The kingdom of God is all about welcoming the unwelcome.
Sheltering the unwanted. Radical inclusion.
The garden of God doesn’t exist for itself;
it exists to offer nourishment to everyone the world deems unworthy.
It exists to attract and to house the very people we would rather shun.
Its primary purpose is hospitality, not productivity.

As Mary Oliver’s lovely poem Wild Geese concludes:
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

“Convince me you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
Psalm 92 set for today finishes:
12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 In old age they still produce fruit;
they are always green and full of sap…

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life…”
And our vocation? Nothing but “to look and listen
and join the trees in their hymns and prayers.”

SUNDAY 20th JUNE 2021, 4th SUNDAY after PENTECOST

MORNING WORSHIP
ST COLUMBA’S, PONT STREET
SUNDAY 20th JUNE 2021, 4th SUNDAY after PENTECOST
Job 38:1-11, Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32, Mark 4:35-41

The opening verse of our opening hymn
is a pretty good executive summary
of the scripture readings we have heard this morning:
Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
who bade the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep:
Oh, hear us when we cry to thee
for those in peril on the sea.

From the boundaries of Creation
referenced in Job’s “face-off” with the Almighty:
“Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stopped”?
To storm tossed disciples on the Sea of Galilee:
“A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat,
so that the boat was already being swamped.”

And just in case you are a landlubber,
the Psalmist conjures the turmoil of those who go down to the sea in ships
“They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their calamity;
they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end.”

So, today’s scriptures are decidedly tempest-tossed;
they also give full expression to how humanity cries out, in the teeth of the gale.
From Job’s: “Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this?”
To the anguished cry of the disciples:
“Jesus, do you not care that we are drowning?”

The Hebrew scriptures are full of such questions and accusations.
God, where are you? Why won’t you save us? How much longer must we endure?
Rouse yourself, Lord! Why have you forsaken us?
(“What do we do when God falls asleep?”)

In Job’s world framework, the understanding –
those who lead a good life and are obedient to God’s commands
will be rewarded with good fortune.
Alternatively, when tragedy strikes, in some way they deserve it.
Job knows that he has not sinned – still he suffers.
“Where’s the justice in that?” He cries out for a courtroom to question the Divine.
“Let the Almighty answer me!”

Then, as we read, God responds; God responds as a poet.
Not with analysis, not with final answers,
but instead, with awe-inducing questions of God’s own:.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements - surely you know!
On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”

Our reading included only first eleven verses – four chapters-worth follow –
describing the works of creation – from oceans to constellations
and the hidden lives of animals.
Job asks courtroom; God replies, cosmos.

Prof Catherine Heymans, first female Astronomer Royal for Scotland,
authority on universe’s dark matter.
“We don’t understand what makes up 95% of our universe.
I mean that’s an epic fail as far as science is concerned.”

Job is given a cosmic vision from the divine, of the divine.
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you.” (Job 42:5)
Job’s questions are never answered directly.
Instead, there is a shift in understanding;
acknowledging the place of chaos in the cosmos,
yet concluding the world still rests on a secure foundation.

Hard, or desperate questions fired at God, often amid pain or fear,
Are not contained to the older scriptures – the gospel too.

After a long day with the crowds on the Western shore of the Sea of Galilee,
Jesus decides to cross over to the other side.
The geography is significant; the Eastern shore is gentile territory.
Jesus is breaking new ground – potentially hostile.
He is disturbing the status quo. That is when the storm arises.

Its suddenness or its ferocity is exceptional.
Men whose livelihood is to ply their trade upon the waters are thrown into disarray.
In one corner – fearful disciples hanging on for dear life screaming for help;
in the other, the Teacher, asleep on a cushion.
“Don’t you care that we are perishing?”

Former Moderator, Very Rev Dr John Chalmers is known to many of you at St Columba’s.
Beyond the church he might be known as the father of JJ Chalmers
who featured in last year’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Ten years ago, last month, while serving as a Royal Marine in Afghanistan,
JJ was blown up by an IED in Helmand province.
Ten years on, his father John spoke about what followed.
The worst nightmare plunged him and his wife Liz into the darkest place.

John was on a personal high after successfully completing his first General Assembly in Edinburgh as the Kirk’s Principal Clerk on Friday the 27th of May 2011
when his world spun on its axis and turned upside down.

The horrific experience changed his perspective on his Christian faith and life.

“There is an expectation that one should sense a presence of God
that would comfort, calm you and hold you, but for us it was just silence.
Friends and colleagues from the Church came to the front door
and they did not know what to say
but they knew how to drink a cup of tea and sit with us.

When I look back, I think that was the presence of God with us in flesh and blood –
people who were courageous enough to come and see us
when there are no easy words.
We were really in the darkest place where you could be,
it was the worst nightmare I have ever lived through
and a mother’s worst nightmare as well.

That of course was not the end of either John and Liz’s story, or of JJ’s.
They all bear witness to remarkable things that have followed.
But it is worth remembering that is how it started –
“it was wreckage in the first few weeks.”.
The storm was awful.
And in it there were no easy answers, no short cuts, out.
At best they could endure.

Significantly, they remember simple acts of neighbourliness –
inadequate as those neighbours must have felt.
What was important – what is remembered;
a willingness of some to place themselves in proximity to suffering –
even when there were no words or explanations that would do.

In the gospel fragment, yes Jesus awakes,
and yes, with a word of command, he stills the storm.
(A capability that marks out the Messiah.)
But, is that the story’s real point?

Early in the pandemic there was understandably, the rallying cry for unity:
“We’re all in the same boat.”
Actually, time has shown, we may have been in the same storm,
but we are most certainly not all in the same boat.
Experiences have varied greatly, from inconvenient to catastrophic.
Poorer communities, minority ethnic communities and those living with disabilities
have been afflicted disproportionately
and cry out for the healing of these inequalities.

By contrast, in the Sea of Galilee’s gospel storm,
Jesus is in the same storm and the same boat.
He rests in their midst, tossed as they are tossed,
soaked as they are soaked, endangered, as they are endangered.
Though the disciples cannot grasp it,
there is no point in the night when God is absent or even distant.
Conclusion: Jesus, as present in the furies, as in the peace that follows.

Of course, we want God to calm the wind and seas.
We want things under control.
We assume, like the disciples, that the miracle is in Jesus calming the storm.
But this storm-calming power isn’t the kind of power Jesus came to demonstrate.
It is the kind of power Jesus came, in order to give up.

[In time, the storm created by Herod and Pilate could not be calmed,
the wind in this storm would howl until the hour of his death,
and even his prayers could not end its siege.]

Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples is a reminder that discipleship
is not an easy option or necessarily a comfortable road.
It is a reminder that sometimes, discipleship is the call to trust and endure;
to find inner calm through faith.
And when those around us are living through such a moment,
it is a reminder that our presence, steady friendship,
listening ear, practical help, continuing prayer,
may be the thing someone needs to help them hold on till the storm passes.

As we sang:
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know his voice,
As we will sing:
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!

SUNDAY 27th JUNE 2021, 5th SUNDAY after PENTECOST

ST COLUMBA’S, PONT STREET
SUNDAY 27th JUNE 2021, 5th SUNDAY after PENTECOST

Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came
and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly,
‘My little daughter is at the point of death.
Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ 
So, Jesus went with him. Mark
5:22-24

A Tale of Two Daughters: the girl, just twelve years old;
the woman, twelve years un-consoled.
A story within a story; seemingly separate,
but their proximity and parallels,
surely not placed by chance; each encounter in some way informing the other.

Jairus: A leader of the synagogue; powerful, privileged, accepted, male.
Yet suddenly rocked, by his helplessness to save his sick child.
What would he not do, to bring her health?
Perhaps he has tried everything – the travelling rabbi is the last throw of the dice;
uncaring now what his religious colleagues would say
about associating with the one with the unconventional/dangerous reputation.
So, Jairus the father goes, falls at his feet and implores.
And his plea is answered. Take me to her.

But along the way, someone else’s life gets in the way.
She could not have been more different.
Twelve years sick, haemorrhaging life blood,
her money gone on failed medicines,
ritually impure, impoverished, female and vulnerable;
her own body has become a source of isolation and disgrace;
outcast and embarrassment; shunned into silence by bad religion.
Lonely beyond description.

Some years ago, the Friends of St Columba’s undertook a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral.
We were met “as pilgrims” by Canon Mark Oakley, then a member of the cathedral staff.
Oakley is now a chaplain in one of the colleges of Cambridge University.
During lock down, he has offered a series of online conversations entitled,
“What really matters?”
Recently, he talked with a young man called Lee Welham; Lee is a seller of the Big Issue.
As I understand it, he is both a familiar sight and a known character
in that part of the famous university town.
In the short 15-minute conversation, conducted over zoom and then onto Twitter,
Lee explained a little of his particular story.
Born with a gift of the gab he left studies in accountancy
to work in seaside towns for ten years, entertaining customers with humour and chat,
as he sold fairground rides and beach paraphernalia.

His move to Cambridge was miscalculated; becoming homeless,
admitting the shock of going from, someone walking past Big Issue sellers,
to being a Big Issue seller.
As he said: “Up until 6pm selling the Big Issue is OK. After 6pm it becomes very lonely.” Initially, he found being on the street, terrifying.
Hardest of all was the sense of invisibility.
[Oakley recounted from his days in London the homeless person who said to him:
“Congratulations, you’re the first person to look me in the eye today.”]

Lee’s story has perhaps worked out better than most.
He appears to both generate community and find support within it;
A hairdresser who offers a haircut;
someone else who puts his clothes through a washing machine.
When asked: How can people help?
“Let them know that you see them.
Build up the vendor; help them up the ladder – you have a ladder.
Maybe once a week, once a fortnight, once a month – stop and talk to them.”
In answer to the conversation’s central question:
What have you learnt? What really matters?
“After COVID the whole country should have learnt the lesson.

Human contact. Family. Food with friends. Do nice things for people.
Grab the ones you love – never let them go.”

On the road to the house of Jairus an invisible woman steps forward.
She too, like Jairus, is desperate.
And in that pushing, jostling, last chance saloon crowd,
she makes a stunning act of civil disobedience. (Debie Thomas)
She reaches out to grab, to hold, just to brush -
what she longs, might be the fabric of life,
the garment, that one day soldiers would play dice for, outside Jerusalem’s walls.

Jesus senses something has gone out from him;
the healer bears a cost, imposed by the healed.
Amid the throng he halts, asks: Who touched me?
Ludicrous question; the disciples roll their eyes –
Boss, we’re packed like sardines here – it could be anyone.
Who touched me? Not the question of a touchy celebrity,
but an engineer of community.

Stopping, amid the immediate task, the call to Jairus’ home,
Jesus seeks something more from the one who sought him.
For the one isolated by illness, he desires not just health, but restoration.
Recognising his search for her, she comes;
aware of her shocking trespass – the rabbi rendered impure, by her impulsive action.
In fear and trembling, she falls down before him.
And in a torrent of words tells him the whole truth -
perhaps for the first time someone really listens, to what she needs to say.
And Jesus? Instead of condemning her action; praises her faith;
instead of condemning unclean; he calls her Daughter.
[She begins to climb her ladder.]

Jairus is witness to this. One can only imagine the overload of what he was seeing.
Surely beside himself at the delay for his daughter.
Confronted by a surprising/unwelcome(?) re-ordering of priorities;
the need of the invisible outsider, elevated above his own?
Confusion at the rabbi who does not react in anger at being made ritually unclean;
on the contrary – applauds the trespass.
Did he quickly calculate the now, un-clean rabbi could not enter his own house?
Did it dawn on him, the part he/his religion played in the woman’s isolation and suffering?
What orthodoxies created oppressions?

But before he could make sense of these things - the worst of news.
While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say,
‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’
 

Yesterday, arriving early at a crematorium south of London,
I found the large car park packed.
As the main chapel doors opened a very full congregation emerged.
So-striking – the vast majority were young adults.
I wondered who/what had drawn them altogether.

After they had gone, I went to recce the smaller chapel for the service I was to take.
I was met by a friendly smartly dressed, bearded man in his 30’s/40’s.
I wasn’t quite sure who he was or what his role was. Organist? Chapel attendant?
He obviously knew the space and showed me what I needed to be ready.

I asked him about the big service that had just been.
A young man aged 24 – who had died in a car accident.
The next service to follow was to be for a ninety-one-year-old,
complete with standard bearer from the British Legion.
“That’s OK; you kind of expect it.
It’s the babies and the young ones I find difficult”

he said, reflecting on the many and varied ceremonies
that he witnesses in the course of his day.
At the end of our conversation, he signed off:
“But I’m just the gardener – covering for the normal chapel attendant who’s ill today.”

A Tale of Two Daughters: the woman, twelve years un-consoled.
now, the girl, just twelve years old – final scene.
Jesus asks Jairus to keep walking; even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Declares: Do not pronounce death, where I see life.
The professional mourners, like money-lenders,
are driven from the temple of the child’s room:
To the parents in the midst of the storm: “Do not be afraid.”
To the child, a hand outstretched: “Little girl, get up.”

After awakening - appetite; Give her something to eat.
Jesus doesn’t dwell on proving others wrong; doesn’t draw attention to himself;
actually, commands the witnesses to: Keep it a secret.
Concentrate on what really matters – life to be lived, love and food to be shared.

So concludes our Tale of Two Daughters; the Twelve-Year Tale:
So full of things to notice; so human and humane.
Yet not a story that covers everything –
not a perfect Hollywood movie ending.

Let us recognise that for many,
there isn’t the longed-for reawakening from apparent death, or dramatic healing;
for many, prayer isn’t answered with the results we most plead for.
For some, there is only the hardest road, to be endured.
As we sang: (Hymn 718 We cannot measure how you heal.)
We cannot measure how you heal
or answer every sufferer’s prayer,
yet we believe your grace responds
where faith and doubt unite to care.

As we try to be a family of faith, imperfectly perfect/perfectly imperfect(?);
in honesty, let us say that sometimes all we have in our empty hands - is to pray;
To pray for grace enough to make it through this day.
Clinging to heaven’s hem – if only just.
Or grace enough, to support another, enduring the worst.

To remember, to treasure the Psalmist’s promise,
(however far off it may yet seem):
Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

And holding something of Christ’s healing and humility before us –
his lightness of touch;
to make the Psalmist’s words our own:
“… my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Psalm 30: 5b, 11, 12

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St Columba’s is located on Pont Street in Knightsbridge in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Church is within easy reach of three London Underground stations – Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line), South Kensington (Piccadilly, Circle and District Lines) and Sloane Square (Circle and District Lines).

St. Columba's
Pont Street
London SW1X 0BD
+44 (0)20-7584-2321
office@stcolumbas.org.uk

Getting here by tube

Knightsbridge Station

Take the Harrods exit if open (front car if coming from the East, rear car if coming from the West). Come up the stairs to street level, carry on keeping Harrods on your right. Turn right into Basil Street. Carry straight on into Walton Place with St Saviour’s Church on your left. At the traffic lights, St Columba’s is to your left across the street. If the Harrods exit is closed, take the Sloane Street exit, turn right into Basil Street. Carry straight on past Harrods with the shop on your right, into Walton Place as before.

South Kensington Station

Come up the stairs out of the station and turn left into the shopping arcade. Turn left again into Pelham Street. At the traffic lights at the end of Pelham Street cross Brompton Road, turn left then immediately right into the narrow street of Draycott Avenue. After just a few yards turn left into Walton Street. Carry on walking up Walton Street until the traffic lights at the corner of Pont Street. Turn right and after a few steps you will be at St Columba’s!

Sloane Square Station

Cross over the square into Sloane Street. Walk along Sloane Street until the traffic lights at the corner of Pont Street. Turn left into Pont Street. St Columba’s will then be in sight.

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