..first Sunday back into what Church calls “Ordinary Time” as if there could ever be ordinary time especially after Covid.. ..not surprisingly first Sunday involves God being in touch..we have the call of Samuel.. he was already dedicated to the service of God in the Temple, a boy watchman, watching in prayer, keeping the lamp of the divine presence lit..a “deckie-learner” more of that later..but God wanted to take him [ & now you & I ] deeper into relationship & service Samuel thinks the call in his dream is from his master the priest/teacher Eli, but Eli realising somewhat sadly he has to decrease & Samuel increase, gives Samuel & you & I the entry code, the password.. ..go & lie down, & if someone calls, say “speak Lord your servant is listening” an openness a receptivity to the voice & call of God, here & now, to you.. “& the Lord was with him”..& the Lord is with you here & now..
“..here I am since you called me..” ; Lord have mercy “..Samuel Samuel, John David Catherine Susan.. ; Christ have mercy “..speak Lord, your servant is listening..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
I’d like to think that usually, ordinarily, & especially in the height of this pandemic, a monk-priest is rather like a lighthouse keeper..like Samuel in 1st rdg..a watchman, watching in prayer on behalf of all of you here, & many more of you not here who are having difficult times in covid; fears lockdown safety precautions sanitising..concern for others..& the constant 24x7 that makes all the difference is the lighthouse Christ, & his light..reminding you to keep safe, to remain cautious of big seas & hidden rocks, as you go about your extraordinary lives at this extraordinary time..the light, Christ himself, is always there to beam out a steady signal of the dangers of the rocks of covid, & at same time beam out a light of reassurance of his watchfulness, his presence, for those of us who feel need of a safe calm harbour..a place seat & a mooring in this Church, to sit & connect with the light..each of us in covid “deckie-learners” young 16yr old straight out of school, taken on by trawler company sent out on trawler from Hull to Arctic to learn on deck, not in a classroom, how to survive as a trawlerman; six weeks at sea, four days off, then six weeks at sea..we now “deckie-learners” learning for first time how to respond in life & faith as our practice of faith takes on different & changing directions..we sit & connect in Church with our sanctuary lamp as did Samuel 2500yrs ago, keeping the flame of faith alive, as I do now in service of each of you..our crew seriously diminished, as few of you put to sea to come here, the rest understandably staying at home..learning other ways to keep their skills in discipleship..I’m available even at 1030pm Sat evg to take your booking for Sun Mass..have heating on, grit the path, prepare altar & sanctuary, read at Mass, celebrate Eucharist, share out meal of a lifetime safely distant..often sanitise benches when you have all gone, put everything away, & finally to pause again for few moments at our sanctuary lamp to give thanks on your behalf for all we have shared & received..yes at 2m distance but on a heart level we couldn’t be closer..loved valued & belonging..word on block of wood from last weekend? WANTED..& to keep the flame of faith alive & fuelled, in listening with you, & on your behalf, to the voice of the Lord “speak Lord, your servant is listening” yes to be a Martha & also yes to be a Mary..to sit with you at this meal table & share the meal of a lifetime..a calling we share, ever in the process of becoming, always reforming, pre-covid, now in-covid, & eventually post-covid. As a parish safe harbour we have changed dramatically in last 8months in every sense “members making up the Body of Christ” weaker more distant in these months because of our social physical distancing & self-isolation?..or deeper stronger fitter individually/collectively? ..as it says in our book “the boy the mole the fox & the horse” “is your glass half empty or half full?” asked the mole..”I think I’m grateful to have a glass” said the boy..a call to make divine sense out of the non-sense of covid..how many of us have heard the divine voice calling us to go deeper in meeting the suffering Christ?..BBC news images taking us into a covid ward, or thinking of fellow parishioner of ours in self isolation..it seems to weave into our gospel with its Pt 1..disciples of John the Baptist preparers of the way building safe harbours & steadfast lighthouses beaming out message of safety & danger, finding each in any search for God..then Pt 2 & the “deckie-learners” realisation there is more to this than meets the eye “where do you live?” not Nazareth or YO62 but where is your safe harbour where you retreat to, to seek safety peace & re-creation, to find your Father, our Father? & Jesus says “come & see” no longer to listen for my voice from a distance, but meet me in person in my harbour among my chosen crew to date, each of us now & always “deckie-learners”..like Andrew & having met Jesus, convinced enough to go home to tell with passion & conviction “we have found the Messiah”..did you notice in gospel two “hard looks”?..not withering looks I used to give when I taught Yr 9 O Level RE..hard steady loving looks which engage & fix, that “knows” deeper than words..a confirmation of all that is already known & believed in..positive expectant “there is the lamb of God” Jesus..he will take you on to the next stage of journey, go with him, my role as watchman now over as you see the light himself for yourself..& a look at Simon, called now out of learnership into leadership, becoming skipper “you are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas “rock”.. not long now before Andrew Peter you & I are called out of safety of this Church, a dry dock of a repair refurbishment yard, away from training updates, religious H&S advice, relational self-distancing that has left too many of us apart & lonely on a journey of self-survival..Melinda Gates wife of Bill Gates CEO Microsoft, benefactors of millions of dollars to good causes spoke to teenagers “deckie-learners” who have neither wealth or influence to do good on a large scale..advice to them, & so appropriate to each of us, no matter our age .. “what I want to tell you is that when you look out over the arc of your life, & what you want to do with your life & what you want it to stand for, the thing you are going to feel best about in life is that you are loved by your family & friends & that you have done something to change the world for the better in some way..& what I want to tell you in high school is that you already know that, & if you start now even in small ways, by little drops in the bucket, you will be amazed at how much that adds up to over the course of your lifetime” we change the world she said “one act of kindness at a time” & when we change to world, sometimes it changes us. “what do you want?” ..to realise I am loved by my family & friends..& my Parish “where do you live?” ..where I begin to dance to Our Lord’s smile & tune of love & invitation.. “come & see”..how my tiny drops in the bucket are making all the difference in finding a vaccine for the spiritual covid we realise is infecting each of us in our homes & in our harbours?.. [2ndSunYrB Jn 1;35-42]