Where shall we put our trust?
In a world where many are fearful, Father Brian D’Arcy asks where we can put our trust.
Where shall we put our trust?
At a time of enormous uncertainty with so much that was familiar swept away, many people are worried, apprehensive about what will happen to individuals, communities and nations as the result of Covid 19 and about the possibility of environmental catastrophe. In what for large numbers of people is an atmosphere full of fear, Father Brian D’Arcy asks where we can put our trust.
St Mark 4:35-41
Jeremiah 20: 7-11
Music: Lacrimosa (WA Mozart)
Performers: Academy and Chorus of St Martin in the fields/Marriner
CD: Requiem WA Mozart
Music: I heard the voice of Jesus say (English traditional, arranged R Vaughan Williams)
Performers: The Choir of Manchester Cathedral
CD: The Complete New English Hymnal Volume 18 (Priory)
Music: De Profundis (Arvo Pärt)
Performers: The 16 /Christophers
CD: Icon: Music for the Soul and Spirit (Universal)
Music: Brother, sister, let me serve you (Gillard/Pulkingham)
Performers: The Daily Service Singers
CD: The Hymn Makers: Hymns of Discipleship (Integrity)
Music: O Taste and See (R Vaughan Williams)
Performers: The Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral
CD: Jubilate: 500 years of Cathedral Music (Decca)
Music: Alone with none but Thee, my God (Charles Wood)
Performers: The Priory Singers/ Grindle
CD: Hymns of Love and Joy (Priory)
Music: Kol Nidrei (Bruch)
Performers: Jacqueline de Pré and Gerald Moore
CD: Cello Music (Warner)
Music: The Coulin (Irish traditional)
Performers: Innisfree Ceoil
CD: Celtic Airs (Outlet)
Music: Be thou my vision (Irish traditional)
Performers: The Huddersfield Choral Society
CD: The Hymns Album
Music: Attende Domine (Gregorian Chant)
Performers: The Monks of Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick
CD: Gregorian Chants
Music: Be still my soul (Sibelius)
Performer: Beth Nielsen Chapman
CD: Hands across the Waters
It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.
WHERE SHALL WE PUT OUR TRUST?
BBC Radio 4. Father Brian D’Arcy is a Passionist priest who for over forty years has been broadcasting throughout these islands. This morning he leads Sunday Worship from Northern Ireland.
MUSIC Lacrimosa (WA Mozart)Performers: Academy and Chorus of St Martin in the fields/MarrinerCD: Requiem WA Mozart
FATHER BRIAN: Good morning and welcome. I’m here in Tobar Mhuire Retreat Centre, in Crossgar Co. Down, less than 20 miles from the centre of Belfast. After months of closed doors and no services, we are tentatively opening up to retreatants and visitors once again. We are delighted to be able to reflect and pray with our people after all we’ve been through. We are all immensely grateful to have survived what was the most frightening experience any of us can remember. And it is far from over. I’m beginning to wonder what kind of Christmas we’ll have this year. That is why this morning I want us to think and pray about how we can live with hope in times of suffering and change.
READER: Lord God send us your Spirit of love and peace; assure us of your caring presence now and always, as we discern your will during these troubled times. Help the poor, the sick and the stressed to be healed and to be free from fear and depression. Fill us with your many blessings so that we may always be confident of your presence and your care through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
FATHER BRIAN: In St Mark’s Gospel we find Jesus coming to rescue his disciples when they feared they would perish in the stormy weather.
READER: Mark 4:35-41 When evening had come, Jesus said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side." So they left the crowds and took him, just as he was, in their boat. And there were other boats with him. A great storm of wind got up and the waves dashed upon the boat, so that the boat was on the point of being swamped. And he was in the stern sleeping upon a pillow. They woke him. "Teacher," they said, "don't you care that we are perishing?" So, when he had been wakened, he spoke sternly to the wind and said to the sea, "Be silent! Be calmed!" and the wind sank and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were stricken with a great awe, and kept saying to one another, "Who then can this be, because the wind and the sea obey him?"The Gospel of the Lord
MUSIC: I heard the voice of Jesus say (English traditional, arranged R Vaughan Williams)Performers: The Choir of Manchester CathedralCD: The Complete New English Hymnal Volume 18 (Priory)
FATHER BRIAN: Ever since this Pandemic arrived uninvited to wipe away every certainty we ever had, I sometimes feel like a footballer who retired a week before the cup final. I’ve been a helpless, hopeless spectator cocooned behind the perimeter fence, wondering what I can do or say to help. Before this I knew what my role as a priest was; now most days I don’t have a role.
MUSIC : De Profundis (Arvo Pärt) Performers: The 16 /ChristophersCD: Icon: Music for the Soul and Spirit (Universal)
FATHER BRIAN: During Holy Week, when the Pandemic was at its height, I remember feeling anxious and deeply disturbed. Imagine Holy Week without services; imagine Easter with churches locked and empty. I convinced myself that protecting life was more important than my religious feelings. Yet deep down I was as empty as the locked churches. On a cold dark evening I tuned into a message from Pope Francis live from the Vatican. He said: “For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets our cities; it has taken over our lives…” As happened in the Gospel reading we heard just now, we are all going under in the turbulent, Covid storm, the Pope went on.
But, he added, we can call on the Lord to waken up, as the disciples did; we can be saved from our despair.
“Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation… Jesus brings serenity into our storms, because with God we have an anchor, a rudder; we have hope,” Pope Francis concluded.
And just as the disciples were encouraged when they realised Jesus was at the stern, the Pope’s words helped me focus on the positive. Holy week and Easter actually turned out to be the most meaningful religious experience I had in years. I was forced to look deep inside for strength; I knew I needed to realise that there will be no return to what we call normal. This Pandemic is an opportunity to see life differently. It’s an opportunity for a fresh beginning.
Just a few weeks ago all of us, including scientists, doctors, poets, priests and artists, thought we had the answer to everything life could throw up. Now we realise an invisible virus is stretching the best brains in the world. It is a time to humbly work with, and not against, the experts. It is a time to pray for those who risk their lives every day to bring comfort to the dying. That for me is the most uplifting outcome of a terrible time. God is working powerfully through good human beings continuing to do good deeds.
MUSIC Brother, sister, let me serve you (Gillard/Pulkingham)Performers: The Daily Service SingersCD: The Hymn Makers: Hymns of Discipleship (Integrity)
READER: Lord we give you thanks for all the kindness, care and compassion that has been shown over the past months. We remember all who work in hospitals and those who care for the elderly and vulnerable, and ask that each of us may be ready to offer help and support. Let us pray to the Lord.
FATHER BRIAN: It’s humbling to realise how the apparent essentials of daily living have been shown to be not essential at all.
So what have we left when everything is gone? We have each other. We have relationships. We have dedicated people who care. We have learned that hope is greater than fear.The American poet Maya Angelou said that hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. We have to invite one of them to stay. Now is the time to discard our fears and choose hope.
We put hope into practice by recognising the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment – in this case the Covid 19 crisis. At the same time we need to be aware that our fears could prevent us from embracing the present moment with courage, faith and hope. We are stronger than we think.
This loss of what we thought was normal life should make us question why we had been living so aimlessly; how mistaken we were in the priorities we held.
Now that we have stepped off the merry-go-round of modern living, do we want or need to step back on a never-ending treadmill of activity?
We are not indestructible. We are not unconnected individuals. We do matter to one another; we do need others; what I do, or do not do, has consequences - both good and bad.
Desperate times can lead us to make better, healthier choices. This could be a God-given opportunity for us to do just that.
There is a well-known principle in counselling which advises us not to waste a crisis. Even when it arrives uninvited out of the blue, it provides us with an opportunity to make new choices, knowing that there is nothing to lose by making them.
Crisis is a Greek word for crossroads. A crossroads gives us at least four choices for the journey ahead and if we are to move on, we have to choose one of them. We discover that life is a continual challenge, forcing us to make choices we’d rather avoid.
‘Hope is not about believing things will turn out well; hope is the certainty that things will make sense no matter how they turn out.’
This is the message of the Psalmist too.
READER: Psalm 91
READER: Psalm 91
He who dwells in the shelter of the
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust…”
5 You will not fear the terror of the
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge[b]—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love,
I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honour him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
MUSIC O Taste and See (R Vaughan Williams)Performers: The Choir of St Paul’s CathedralCD: Jubilate: 500 years of Cathedral Music (Decca)
READER: We remember those who suffer with Covid-19 and those who suffer because of it, those who are desperately anxious about the future, the depressed, the isolated and the lonely that they may find in you comfort, help and support. We pray to the Lord
FATHER BRIAN: Another American poet and civil rights leader Howard Thurman advised: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive”.
It is the central tenet of Christian belief that death is not the end. Out of death comes life. The grain of wheat dies and produces abundantly. Jesus dies on the cross and is raised on Easter Sunday. The world as we knew it was brought to halt by Covid. A new way of living on this planet will rise from the ashes.
There is a sense in which a crisis can become a blessing. If I can learn to live a more fulfilling life even Covid 19 would, in the end, become a blessing. The poet Mary Oliver wrote: “All my life I was a bride married to amazement/… I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
It is through the quiet prayer of listening that we discover the voice of God whispering priceless wisdom in our hearts...
I had the privilege of interviewing Mother Teresa on a number of occasions. The last time was at the Marian Shrine of Knock in the west of Ireland. I always found her a difficult person to communicate with. She told me only what she wanted to tell me, no matter what question I asked her. She was so saintly that I couldn’t be disrespectful. She kept her head bowed down; I could get any eye contact. I spent most of my time trying to get her to look at me, but I never succeeded.
I was relieved to discover that it was the same for more experienced interviewers than I. The same thing happened to the legendary American Dan Rather. He ran into a blank wall interviewing Mother Teresa but in a flash of genius he asked her, “When you pray, who do you pray to?” She answered, “I pray to God.” “And what do you say to God?” To which she answered, “I listen.” Dan Rather then asked the best question of all, “And what does God say to you?” Mother Teresa answered, “And God listens also.”
MUSIC: Alone with none but Thee, my God (Charles Wood)Performers: The Priory Singers/ GrindleCD: Hymns of Love and Joy (Priory)
FATHER BRIAN: I have learned that I should trust God no matter what happens – simply because God is trustworthy. God loves me even in times of doubt. “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet still believe.” (John 20:29). Jesus did not say: ‘When you have sorted your life out, you can begin to love’. No. We are asked to love no matter what our circumstances are. Jesus did not plead; ‘Worship me’; but he did say ‘Follow me’.It’s like what happened to Jeremiah, the prophet. He lived 600 years BC. In biblical terms a prophet is someone who warns people of the future consequences of their present actions.Jeremiah didn’t want to be God’s voice of conscience to his people. So he wrestled with his God.
Jeremiah 20. 7-11
You seduced me, Lord, and I
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire imprisoned in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot…
10All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is
with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonour will never be forgotten.
Music: Kol Nidrei (Bruch)Performers: Jacqueline de Pré and Gerald MooreCD: Cello Music (Warner)
FATHER BRIAN: In his book 'Man’s Search for Meaning', Dr Viktor Frankl writes of the unbelievable horrors he witnessed as a prisoner in Nazi death camps during World War 11. The book is not just a record of Nazi atrocities but is a testament of what he learned about the meaning of life from his own experiences and his fellow prisoners. It chronicles the bad, but also the good, the hopeful and the heroic.
When he was arrested Frankl tried to hide a book he had written on psychiatry, inside the great overcoat he wore. The manuscript was his life's work. But at Auschwitz, all his possessions all his clothes, including his precious coat, were taken from him. His manuscript was lost forever.
Frankl recalled the event
READER: "I had to surrender my clothes and in turn inherited the worn out rags of an inmate who had been sent to the gas chamber immediately after his arrival at Auschwitz. Instead of the many pages of my manuscript, I found in the pocket of my newly acquired coat one single page torn from a Hebrew prayer book containing quotations from the most important Hebrew prayer (Shema Yisrael), "Hear Israel. The Lord our God is Lord alone. Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart."
FATHER BRIAN: Frankl came to this conclusion: "How could I have interpreted such a coincidence other than as a challenge to suffer bravely? Life has a meaning until the last moment, and it retains this meaning to the end."
St Paul sums up this situation perfectly: “Who could ever know the mind of our Lord? To him is glory for ever. (Romans 11:35/6)
MUSIC: The Coulin (Irish traditional)Performers: Innisfree CeoilCD: Celtic Airs (Outlet)
I was reading a helpful book by an Indian Jesuit priest, Paul Coutinho. The book’s title itself is enlightening: ‘How big is Your God?’He believes we need to be free to enjoy each unique experience of God in our life. READER “We all have the freedom to find meaning in life, and this meaning is the big meaning. It’s the meaning I have to find. It’s not what religion tells me. It’s not what my parents tell me. It’s not what the teachers or sages or presidents of the CEOs tell me. It’s not what anybody tells me. As a human being, as a creation of God, I am invited to find my own meaning.” (P123)
FATHER BRIAN: We are called to keep on searching. To do anything else would be dishonest.
MUSIC : Be thou my vision (Irish traditional)Performers: The Huddersfield Choral Society CD: The Hymns Album
Our Father who art in Heaven Hallowed by Thy NameThy Kingdom ComeThy Will be Done on earth as it is in heavenGive us this day our daily breadAnd forgive us our trespassesAs we forgive those who trespass against usAnd lead us not into temptationBut deliver us from evilFor thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Forever and ever Amen
MUSIC: Attende Domine (Gregorian Chant)Performers: The Monks of Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick CD: Gregorian Chants
FATHER BRIAN: As we come to the end of our time together, I want to thank you for joining us today. Be at peace. No one knows all the answers; no one knows the future. It’s best to keep reflecting, keep praying and keep trusting God to lead you to a better place. I have learned those lessons from one of my spiritual heroes, the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, who died in 1968.
And so our final prayer this morning will be these consoling words of Thomas Merton. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death; I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” We give thanks to the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ; for in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual Blessing (Eph. 1:3).In the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
MUSIC : : Be still my soul (Sibelius)Performer: Beth Nielsen ChapmanCD: Hands across the Waters
Today’s Sunday Worship was led Father Brian D’Arcy.The producer was Bert Tosh.
Next Sunday Canon Rachel Mann will lead an urban harvest service on the theme “A New Heaven and a New Earth”
- Sunday 08:10