Bishops of England & Wales have designated 2020 “the Year of the Word” with the logo “the God who speaks..” speaks through Scripture & in person through you & I. today is designated “Sunday of the Word “ ..if you were to be asked to chose one word you feel your God invites you to share with him here & now, I wonder what inspired word it would be? When you hear God speak through our 1st reading it may well remind you of Christmas ..just a month ago this weekend, when the Word Jesus Christ was made flesh..& your word/voice now becomes flesh, comes to life, & helps change us for the better..
“..you have made their gladness “ [our gladness] “greater” ; glad happy followers of Jesus ; Lord have mercy “..you have made their joy” [our joy] “increase” ; joy by name, joy by nature.. ; Christ have mercy “..they” [we] “rejoice in your presence” your Word made flesh ; your real presence in us & in me.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..you don’t need a satnav if you have Matthew’s gospel; he is specific geographical & forensic; a man for detail & precision, & obsessed with logging the fulfilment of scripture as if to prove Jesus’ identity as the Word made flesh..& always written in indelible ink, just in case anyone has slightest of doubts; & yet isn’t doubt at the very heart of our faith? to learn the need to question & to delve, & thereby to understand; to come to terms with the existence & abiding presence of the question mark “where doubt is honoured as much as faith” will our parish be all the stronger for the current choppy/disturbing journey of change as the three churches come together?..”& leaving Nazareth he went & settled in Capernaum” & leaving Gilling Oswaldkirk & Ampleforth they/we went & settled in a different place, emotionally psychologically & spiritually..”Galilee of the nations” three churches coming together to settle to new possibilities in this holy land, in our villages of milk & honey, the promised land, & now of even more promise & opportunity; a new start as it was 2020yrs ago; 4 fishermen, skilled professionals taught in family by family, learning basics through guidance & wisdom of seniors, taught to read tides wind currents & eventually to have a nose for where shoals of fish are & then to get cracking, no rest no meal breaks; 24 x 7 until, boat full of fish, they make for home, tired exhausted & elated.. then to take time in harbour to rest & to share story/experiences; to mend broken nets, to ensure no holes for next catch to escape through, every fish precious valued & needed..& on this Sunday of the Word as you listen, am I speaking of Peter James Simon & Andrew 2020yrs ago, or any four of you here & now? fishermen/women called from Oswaldkirk Gilling Ampleforth, & Jesus says “follow me”& aren’t their slogans our slogans? “I am for Paul; I am for Cephas;” I am for Oswaldkirk; I am for Gilling; I am for Ampleforth.. “has Christ been parcelled out?” has he? “& they left their nets, all that they had used daily for years, even their own families, & followed him..”& he went round whole of Galilee teaching telling good news [“God-sip ing”..healthy gossiping remember? ]..& curing disease & sickness”..he, yes & his followers ex fishermen, & now you “fishers of men” & women..to bring new fish, new followers, into our boat..to put to work & prayer, our nose, our sixth sense for where there may well be grounds for a prospective catch..& times of rest to share stories/experiences in our faith, & to mend what in relationships has become, not through malice, but through understandable fair wear & tear, broken..to rethread net of relationships, to heal wounds, to bandage the broken hearted, to pour oil on troubled waters..he/they went round whole of Galilee, whole of this our blessed & beloved valley of milk & honey, “teaching in their synagogues” teaching in our 3 churches “curing all kinds of sickness & disease” we are not paramedics but paradisciples [remember last week] “God speaks to us” & now what do you think the word is 40mins since I invited you to ponder it..has it changed since then, & have you changed? [question mark remember?] indeed you have, the Word becomes flesh, ever in process of becoming more fully human & more fully divine..my word “shoal” very close to word “school”.. this/you our shoal of fish in this “school of the Lord’s service “ as St Benedict calls his monastery..we a crew of beloved fellow disciples in the process of coming together as we leave for new fishing grounds. In Firth of Forth on east coast of Scotland, fishing boats from small harbours on either shore of Firth have a common registration at Leith..so, on each fishing boat is its identity; LH 42 or LH 312..& if you look carefully at stern of each boat, it tells you in small lettering which harbour they belong to; Granton Newhaven Pittenweem..& so to us now, registered together in one Parish OL&SB..& in our hearts & on our lips in pride & thanksgiving, not in woe & gloom, our harbour of origin; Gilling Oswaldkirk Ampeforth..”& he called them, & they left, & followed him”..”their gladness greater, their joy increasing, as men & women rejoice at harvest time” happy when they, together, bring in a catch of a lifetime “why us?” indeed why should we be blessed to have been chosen to be the generation when Jesus Christ makes such reforms to his local Church; three boats, one registration, three harbours, & one body united..”I appeal to you, brothers & sisters, for the sake of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, & instead of disagreeing among yourselves, be united again in your belief & practice.”..words of our skipper as he reminds us of our calling into this crew, on this boat, in one of our three harbours, in January 2020..notice we might have nine local harbours in this small privileged valley, for some of you to nestle into now & again, & others more regularly; however, our home harbours are three..written caringly lovingly & inclusively on your stern! & in our skippers heart.. [ 3rdSunYrA MT4;12-23]