September blog from the Vicar
As I sit and reflect on what God wants to say to us as a family at St. Mark’s, we celebrated (on 31st August) the great Saint Aidan: Bishop of Lindisfarne and a generous hero of mission. Irish born Aidan was a monk on the island of Iona, Scotland (now a well-known place of pilgrimage). However, in 635, the King of Northumbria (Oswald) invited him to establish a new community of Christians on a tidal island that later became known as Lindisfarne, or simply, Holy Island (another well-known place of pilgrimage).
He was a man of great generosity, often leaving the island and sharing the good news of Jesus with local residents. He was known for his simple lifestyle and had few possessions. A well-known story about him is when King Oswin, Oswald’s son, gave him his best horse so he could travel a bit more comfortably to share the Gospel - he felt uncomfortable in accepting the gift, but did so. However, when coming across a beggar in a local town, he felt God prompting him to give this beautiful horse to the beggar. On his next encounter with the King, he had to explain his recent action, and the King was outraged. Aidan simply said, ‘My King, my good friend, is that son of a mare more dear to you than the Son of God’!
I am overwhelmed that this saint who lived in Iona and Lindisfarne back in the ‘600’s AD has left two places of pilgrimage that are so well travelled to still today and known as ‘thin places of God’. A man of such generosity in time, prayer, giving and outreach to the poor.
As we begin to return to some sort of normality after 18 months under COVID-19 rules and regulations, I wonder how our Trinitarian God has been speaking to you and you to Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit regarding the gift of generosity & gratitude?
Many of you will know that when I was on retreat earlier this year, God spoke to me very powerfully through this Icon known as the Rublev Icon. It is an invitation of the Trinity to join them at their table – and some people find it very difficult to do so.
I think it is a picture of amazing generosity. God simply wants us to sit with Him, and take our place, and when we do, we receive His love, grace, forgiveness, healing, hospitality, and generosity. Some of you will have heard the poem that God gave to me while gazing upon this icon, and which I share hoping it will help you to find your space and place within the Holy Trinity.
I stood, waited, watched and saw
They beckoned and invited me
The Three in One and One in Three – the Blessed Trinity.
I went – they smiled
Sit with us this space awaits you ……… (place your name)
I took my place with the Three in One and One in Three
The Holy Trinity
How does it feel – your seat, your place, your space
asked the Three in One and One in Three?
It felt good as I was welcomed into the Holy Trinity.
They smiled and love was confirmed
The table is now complete God affirmed.
No longer three but four.
The seat embraced and enveloped me – I smiled
received, accepted, and adored.
We smiled – I stayed – all inseparable and totally formed together.
The space and place now awaits another.
When we have been at the receiving end of a very generous God, we cannot but reciprocate by extending that same generosity to others, just as Saint Aidan did. The Church of England is encouraging churches to hold a ‘Generosity Week’ around Harvest this year, so we have set aside the week of September 26th to focus on generosity and gratitude, ending with our Pledge Day for the Faith Building Project on Harvest Sunday 3rd October.
I believe the Word God gave us from Isaiah 54 verses 2 & 3 includes stretching out our hearts to embrace the gift of generosity, not holding back, reaching out to the left and right to those who so badly need to find a place at God’s table – being generous with our time, gifts, skills, hospitality, prayers, possessions, and money. The simple devotion of Aidan to live generously and serve others led many to find Jesus. I pray too that we, like Aidan, may loosen our grip on the things we hold tightly onto, enabling us to give generously so that others might see God’s heart. These past 18 months have confirmed to me the urgency to extend the site of our tent for community need, mission, and ministry.
In 2 Corinthians 9: 10 – 11 we read, ‘the most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God’. (The Message)
you sent the gentle Bishop Aidan
to proclaim the gospel in this land:
Grant us to live as he taught
in simplicity, humility and love for the poor;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and forever.