Sunday, 26 June 2016

Patronal Festival of St Peter & St Paul: Pilgrim people

1 Corinthians 15. 1-11, Luke 5.1-11

Yesterday, a group of our more energetic church members walked from Seal to the mother church of our Diocese, Rochester Cathedral. I joined them for the last five miles or so of their 18 mile trek, which may seem like cheating a bit, but I thought I had better leave myself some energy for this morning…  Some of the journey was great. Some of it was hard going. The rain poured down towards the end, but our spirits weren’t dampened – or not much at any rate. There may have been a blister or two along the way, but everyone made it to the end, and no one got lost. There are some photos here, and I’m sure any of our pilgrims will be happy to supply a few travellers’ tales if you ask them.


The choice of the choir anthem for today – “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that bringeth glad tidings” – wasn’t entirely prompted by the Rochester walk, but it seemed appropriate. I don’t know how beautiful the feet of our walkers are this morning, but I hope they felt they were bearers of glad tidings, to each other if not to anyone else, encouraging each other on the journey.  

Pilgrimage is an ancient custom, of course. Pilgrims have walked as our walkers did  since the

Middle Ages, going to Rochester or Canterbury, or even heading to the channel ports at the beginning of longer journeys to Compostela or Jerusalem. Pilgrimage isn’t just a feature of Christianity either. Muslims make pilgrimage to Mecca, Hindus to the Ganges, and long ago our pre-Christian forebears seem to have headed for places like Stonehenge at significant moments too. There’s probably always been an element of simple fun and curiosity about pilgrimage –  an excuse for a change of scene and a break from routine – but for most who make these sacred journeys there is much more to them than that. It isn’t just the destination that’s important. True pilgrimage is about the journey itself; what you learn on the way about yourself, about your fellow pilgrims and about God.  It’s been said that a pilgrimage is “a journey in search of itself” – you have to make it to find out what it is about, and sometimes it’s not until afterwards, looking back, that you see its significance. The power of pilgrimage is that, in some sense it is a symbol, even a microcosm, of life itself. It is a reminder that the whole of life is a pilgrimage. We are all pilgrims, on a journey through our lives, finding the way, losing the way, coming to turning points and forks in the road, sometimes walking through the sunlit uplands, sometimes battling grimly through mud and rain, enjoying the company of our fellow travellers, or feeling at odds with them, yet knowing we all somehow need each other.

Our pilgrimage was timed to coincide with this Patronal Festival weekend, of course, and it’s a very appropriate way to celebrate it, because our Patron Saints, Peter and Paul, travelled great distances themselves, not only physically, taking the Gospel out into the world, but spiritually as well. Their lives were pilgrimages which took them along very different routes as they journeyed with God. We are given glimpses of their journeys in our readings today.

St Paul’s faith journey was dramatic and unexpected. “I am the least of the apostles” he says – the least of those send out to proclaim the good news of Christ  - “because I persecuted the church of God.” He had started out bitterly opposed to Jesus and his followers. He didn’t change his mind until he was struck down, dramatically, on the road to Damascus, where he was heading to root out and arrest members of the church. He was the last person anyone could have imagined becoming a Christian, but the fact that the community he’d once persecuted accepted, loved and forgave him transformed him completely. There is a lot in his writings about forgiveness, inclusion and the breaking down of barriers – he preached this message because he knew its truth and power in his own life.

Peter’s pilgrimage of faith was different, in some ways less dramatic, a more gradual process. The Gospel story we heard today wasn’t the first time Jesus and Simon had met – Simon was his birth name, and it’s the name he is mostly called in this passage. In the stories in Luke’s Gospel that lead up to this one, Jesus had arrived in Capernaum, Simon’s home town, by the side of the sea of Galilee. His first port of call was the synagogue. He’d made quite an impact there, healing a man possessed by demons. We don’t know if Simon was present – if he was, it’s not mentioned - but straight afterwards Jesus headed for Simon’s house for some reason- we’re not told why. And when he got there he discovered that he had walked right into the middle of a crisis. Simon’s mother in law was ill with a fever, a dangerous thing in the days before antibiotics. With one word from Jesus, though, the fever abated, and she was healed. Again, we don’t know whether Simon was present – he’s not mentioned. If he was there, he was in the background, apparently saying and doing nothing.

Jesus went on with his mission, healing and preaching, and at some point, perhaps days later, maybe weeks, he came back to the shore at Capernaum.  A great crowd gathered around him, but again, Simon wasn’t one of them. He was nearby, mending his nets, but seeming to take no notice of what was going on until Jesus asked to borrow his boat. Even when Jesus suggested directly to him, after the crowds had gone, that he put out into deep waters to let down his nets again, Simon was politely sceptical. Simon didn’t  mind humouring him – after all they were out on the lake now anyway – but he didn’t expect anything to come of it. What did a carpenter from Nazareth, 20 miles inland, know about fishing? 

Of course, the rest is history; the nets were filled to bursting point. Simon had never seen anything like it.

This is the moment when it finally sinks into Simon’s heart that Jesus is not only a man with a message, but also a man with a message for him.  This demonstration of the generosity of God touched something deep in Simon – we know nothing of his life before this, but maybe he had grown up, as so many people do, expecting very little out of life and not feeling worthy of more. Now he discovers a God who gives him more than he can ask or imagine, just as he is.  At first, Simon falls to his knees and begs Jesus to leave him – a common reaction in the Bible when people realise they are in the presence of someone or something holy. But Jesus takes no notice, and far from going away, he calls Simon to follow him, and eventually he will call him to lead the church too.

The pilgrimages of Peter and Paul – their journeys through life - are very different . One starts from a position of indifference and apathy, and the other starting from fanaticism and bitter hatred. Paul is suddenly turned around by God, but Peter’s change of direction is a gradual one. It’s good to have these two very different stories to ponder. I wonder which is more like your own?  You are here today, and something has drawn you here, but what is it? If you could draw a map that described your pilgrimage to this point, what would it look like? Maybe it would be a dead straight line, with never a doubt, never a question – not many are like that, but if that’s yours then that’s fine. Maybe you have gone along every diversion and back alley possible and are amazed to find yourself here at all. Maybe you’ve  gone backwards and forwards on the path – David Cameron once memorably described his faith as like the radio signal for Magic FM in the Chilterns, coming and going. Maybe you have very deliberately walked away at some point, and then come back again. Maybe you are hovering at the entrance, on the way in, or tempted to leave. Maybe you are at a fork in the road, aware of a nagging sense that God is calling you in a new direction. Maybe you are eager to explore that, or maybe inside you are kicking and screaming against it, sitting down stubbornly and refusing to go on at all. If you want to talk about your pilgrimage, your journey of faith, where you are now, and where you might be heading, do make a time to come and chat – I will be glad to travel with you.

Our pilgrims yesterday knew the route they had to follow, or at least they knew someone who did – Stephen had prepared it impeccably. Our journeys through life are not like that. Even if we think we know where we are going, and think we can imagine the route ahead, the future can’t be mapped and predicted precisely. All we can do is listen, as we travel, for the voice of God, and trust that however unlikely the path looks, he will be with us on it.  And vague though that sounds, it’s enough for me, because  where God is, there will always be blessing, love as abundant as the fish which filled Peter’s nets, forgiveness as freely given as that which Paul found.

That’s good news for all of us in our individual pilgrimages thorough life, and good news for us as a nation at this time of change and turbulence. Let’s make sure that wherever the path leads us, we look for God’s presence, so that we can “bring glad tidings” to those around us.
Amen

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Trinity 4: Breathing Space: One in Christ.


Today’s readings have a lot to say to us about identity. Who do we think we are? Who do others think we are? How do we, and they, feel about our identities?

In the first reading, Paul writes to the church in Galatia, a church which seems to have been tearing itself apart. The Galatians – Galatia is in Central Turkey – weren’t ethnically Jewish. But that hadn’t made any difference to Paul. When he had brought the Gospel to them he had been clear that God loved them as they were. But after he had moved on, they had begun to doubt that, influenced by teachers who took other views, who felt that only if they kept the Jewish laws and customs could they really be a follower of a Jewish Messiah. Some of them felt that they needed to be circumcised and keep the food laws to be acceptable to God. They are having a communal identity crisis – are they the real deal or not, properly part of the family of God? Paul writes to them to reassure them that they are. Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, female, and any other distinction they care to think of – it doesn’t matter. They are all one in Christ.

The identity crisis we see in the Gospel reading is even more severe and distressing. Jesus travels to Gerasa, across the sea of Galilee from his own area, into a region which had been settled by Alexander the Great, and which was mostly Gentile and Greek speaking. It was also an area in which many Roman soldiers were stationed. The area around Galilee was the breadbasket which fed the Roman army, an important base for their operations throughout this part of the Middle East. So it’s no accident that the man Jesus meets among the tombs calls himself Legion – the largest unit of the Roman Army. There are real Legions all around him. His homeland has been overrun by dangerous  forces beyond his control, and that’s how he feels inside himself too, overrun by hostile spiritual forces.. He’s lost sight of who he is. His own voice has been drowned out by the voices which accuse and threaten him.

But Jesus sees the human being, unique and precious, beneath the mask of madness, and banishes the demons that have possessed him. When his friends and neighbours come to see him he is described as being “in his right mind”. He is himself again. It ought to be a cause of great rejoicing, and maybe for some of his friends it is, but overall the response of the local people is decidedly underwhelming. They beg Jesus to leave them. It seems like they’d rather keep things as they are. Why? Because his healing is even more inconvenient and unsettling than his illness was. One herd of pigs has already been lost – someone’s livelihood, and possibly intended to feed those Roman hordes. No one with any sense would want to come between a Roman soldier and his bacon butty. What effect is Jesus going to have on their local economy, and the fragile understanding that exists between them and the military?  If one man has to suffer to maintain the status quo, so be it – the cost of his sanity, the herd of pigs, was too great for them. It suits them for one man to be mad and living among the tombs; he bears the demonic load on behalf of them all.

Many people today are forced into living lives distorted by fear because it suits others that they should do so, excluded, scapegoated, bearing burdens imposed on them by others. The reactions of the LGBTI community to the shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando have demonstrated that. Many spoke of the bone-deep exhaustion of living in a society where things straight couples take for granted – walking down the street holding hands, for example – can result in abuse and violence. And last week they discovered that even in a nightclub where they had always felt safe, they weren’t.

Hatred is closer to the surface and more endemic than we might realise if we don't happen usually to be on the receiving end of it. The killing of Jo Cox was another reminder of this. One man consumed with rage that someone held different views from himself, blasted away any complacency we might have had about the strength of our democracy. The bitterness around the debate about the EU referendum should give us pause for thought too – it’s all too easy for arguments about policies to become brutal character assassinations of individuals who think differently from us.

For those who are followers of Christ, diversity should be in our DNA. Jesus lived and died proclaiming the love of God for all people, breaking down the barriers that his society had erected between people and people, between people and God. Sadly, though, the church has often been among the worst of the oppressors, and that is something we can’t ignore. It is an offence which cries out for repentance. It seems to be deeply ingrained in us to fear difference, and to feel that others should be like us to be acceptable.  But in Christ, says Paul, we are all one,  Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female, gay or straight, left or right-wing, “leavers” or “remainers”, united by the identity that is deepest and truest in us, our identity as God’s children, loved by him and therefore held in one embrace. 


Amen 

Thanks to Stephen for the photo



Sunday, 12 June 2016

Her Majesty the Queen's 90th Official Birthday

2 Samuel 11.26-12.10,13-15, Galatians 2.15-21, Luke 7.36-8.3 We’ve all overheard conversations in a bar or restaurant, maybe on a train where people are telling each other where public figures have gone wrong. Government policy is corrected, sports managers selections slated. You know the sort of thing…’of course what they need to do is pass a law stopping anyone who hasn’t lived in the country for at least 20 years from buying a home’ or ‘where Roy went wrong was playing Rooney too deep behind the front two’, it’s a national pastime. Some people were asked last year what they would change if they were King or Queen for the day and had absolute power. Ideas included making the joining of a communal choir compulsory for everyone with daily public performances, turning Eton and Harrow into social housing provision and the return of national service, for everyone younger than the proponent. Of course yesterday marked the 90th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s official birthday. Our longest ever reigning British Monarch looked resplendent in lime green and there were numerous celebrations across the country, including Seal, to mark the occasion. In our reading from Samuel today we heard about a monarch who behaved in a way we could not believe possible now. King David has taken Uriah’s wife and had Uriah killed. The prophet Nathan has come to the king who seems to be able to separate what he has done from his relationship with God. In a smaller way it’s probably something many of us do, convincing ourselves that something is justified and keeping it separate from our prayer and worship so that it never comes under the microscope of examination. Nathan tells the king a story of a rich man with all he could ever want who takes a poor man’s one treasured lamb to feed a traveller, despite the fact that he has an enormous flock from which he could have chosen. In doing so he dehumanises the poor man, he thinks only of what he wants and needs at that moment. Because he is rich and self-important he has a sense of entitlement to whatever he wants, in his view the poor man’s needs don’t matter and he proceeds without thinking. Naturally the king flies into a rage upon hearing this stating that ‘the man who has done this deserves to die’ before Nathan points out that ‘you are the man’, the king is the subject of the story and now understands the parallel with his own actions and the acknowledgment of his grave sin follows. Of course a constitutional monarchy limits the powers of our Queen but she still has a position of great privilege and influence, representing the country in various ways and meeting regularly with the prime minister. She must have got to know Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair extremely well, meeting more or less weekly with them over 11 and 10 years respectively with both saying that they valued the engagement. When you think about it so many people actually have positions of power which have a direct affect upon the lives of others, managers in the workplace, teachers and those marking exam papers, people allocating housing, government officers in all their forms and each of us in the choices we make every day. Like Her Majesty the Queen we all need to think whether having some power means we can now get our own way, or hopefully realise what we are being given is responsibility, an opportunity to serve. Nathan the prophet was very brave to challenge the king as he did but thankfully our own monarch is somewhat less terrifying. I was introduced to her as a young man and she thanked me for making the tea and doing the washing up as part of a huge team behind the scenes at the Buckingham Palace garden parties. The tea made in huge vats looks so much nicer as it is poured from small silver tea pots. Goodness knows how many people she must have shaken hands with on the posh side of the marquees, as up to 8000 people are invited to each garden party, so it’s hard to imagine that meeting a group of porters (as we were called) at the end of a busy day would have been the highlight of her schedule but she was attentive and interested to an extent that surprised us. In 1964 when the Queen was introduced to the stars of the Royal Variety Performance the comedian Tommy Cooper asked her if she would mind answering a personal question. ‘No’ she says, ‘But I might not be able to give you a full answer.’ ‘Do you like football?’ ‘Well, not really,’ she replies (despite the nonstop singing of the National Anthem by England fans throughout each international match) So Cooper responded ‘In that case, do you mind if I have your cup final tickets?’ So we start to think about whose serving whom. Clearly I’m serving the tea but her majesty is serving her subjects day in and day out as she fulfils her duties. Her commemorative booklet says it all in it title’ The servant Queen and the King she serves.’ It speaks of her trust in Christ and her faith weaves it’s way as a rich thread through every aspect of her life from many happy occasions through to her ‘Annus Horribilis’ in 1992 when Prince Andrew separated from his wife, Princess Anne divorced her husband, there were numerous revelations about the unhappy state of Charles and Diana’s marriage, all topped off by a fire in Windsor Castle. Demonstrating a living Christian faith day by day hasn’t proven to be any barrier to excellent relations with people of other faiths. Rabbi Sacks says that Jews have great respect for the Queen. They value her because they know that she values them. She makes them feel not strangers but respected citizens at home. As supreme governor of the Church of England it might be expected that she would assert its authority over other denominations and faiths but speaking a few years ago she said ‘The concept of the established church is occasionally misunderstood and I believe commonly under-appreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead the church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country. We should all give thanks for this great privilege which we mostly take for granted. We can regularly see the appalling consequences around the world when this freedom and mutual respect is not upheld. In Luke’s gospel we heard how Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his house. It seems that Simon has plans to show his standing in society by entertaining and debating with this interesting man among his friends. A typical home for a man of such social standing may have been in a courtyard set off the main thoroughfare, open to passers by who may call to listen to the teaching. Reclining was the usual posture for eating in Jesus' time, laying on one side keeping the right hand free to eat so it was not difficult for the woman to start bathing Jesus feet with her tears. We shouldn’t underestimate the shock value of the woman wiping Jesus feet with her hair. Here she was a woman described as a sinner and assumed by many to be a prostitute letting her hair down in public, something which was reserved for privacy at home with husbands by decent women. Jesus contrasts the loving extravagance demonstrated by her actions, knowing that her sins are forgiven with Simon’s lack of awareness of his snobbery and failure to recognise his own sin and need for forgiveness. At least King David could recognise his sin when it was explained to him whilst Simon is far more begrudging as he and his guests question Christ’s authority to challenge them saying ‘who is this that even forgives sins?’ Sometimes we fail to see that our own lack of compassion and indifference to the plight of people that are not close to us can be far more damaging than an overt wrongful act. The Queens life to date is one which publicly makes Christ real, serving him by serving his people. When we see inspirational figures such as her it’s hard not to examine ourselves and ask what can we each do to serve. We see loving forgiveness in Christ at the Pharisees home but it is not enough for us just to see it, understand what is being illustrated through the parable we need to be changed by it. Mark Oakley, a priest at St Pauls wrote ‘I am capable of being moved into the heavens during a liturgy or when reading something about God, but afterwards I am capable of being as shallow, bitter and ungracious as ever I can be.’ We shouldn’t beat ourselves up over our failures because the message from our readings today is one of loving forgiveness but we do need to keep coming back to God through Christ to be fed, receive guidance and to make his love know through the way we live our lives. Amen Kevin Bright 12th June 2016

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Trinity 2: Where is God?

1 Kings 17.17-24, Psalm 30, Galatians 1.11-24, Luke 7.11-17

I’m in the middle of reading a very absorbing novel at the moment. I expect some of you have also read it. It’s called “Life After Life” and it is by Kate Atkinson. It’s the life story of a woman born in 1910, or rather it is her life-stories, because the novel tells multiple different versions of her life. Each life is different, shaped by the choices she and those around her make. The first version is very short. Born during a snowstorm with the cord wrapped round her neck, she dies at birth because the doctor can’t get to her through the snow. So we start again. This time the doctor makes it through the snow, and she survives, only to meet another fate a few years later – I won’t give you any spoilers. The story restarts again and again – it sounds tedious, but it isn’t – and each time we travel down a different road with her. It’s a fascinating exploration of all the “what ifs” of our lives.   
If you haven’t read this book you might have seen the film “Sliding Doors”, which plays with the same sort of idea. A young woman either just catches or just misses a tube train, and we see the two different courses her life might have taken as a result. 

Of course, in reality we only get one life– if there are parallel universes in which  other things happen we never get to find out about them. But I’m sure we’ve all sometimes wondered how our lives would have turned out if we hadn’t been in a particular place at a particular time, or if we made a different choice at some point that later turned out to be crucial. It’s not always easy to spot that vital moment when it comes. It’s often only in hindsight that we recognise it.

The stories in our Old Testament and Gospel readings today are both about  chance meetings turn out to be really significant.  They are also both about widows who have lost their only sons. In the Gospel, a widow happens to be coming out of the gates of the town of Nain at the head of her only son’s funeral procession just as Jesus arrives. Jesus sees her, has compassion for her, and restores her son to life. She is filled with delight, but what if that funeral had been just a little earlier or later? How she must have rejoiced that she happened to be there just at that moment!

The story of the widow of Zarephath from the Old Testament is rather more complicated – we just heard the end of it today – but it too depends on what must have looked to her like a random encounter.  

Zarephath was a Phonecian town , to the north of Israel. A drought had hit the whole region, and everyone in Zarephath was starving. One morning this widow happened to be outside the walls looking for firewood when a ragged, hungry looking stranger came into view. He was obviously a foreigner, not her responsibility, so when he asked her for food she was taken aback. Anyway, how could she help him? She only had a handful of meal and a tiny amount of oil, enough for one last meal for herself and her son. After that, she told him, they were going to die. There was no food to give away. But this strange man told her that if she fed him, his God would make sure she and her son survived – God had sent him to her, he said.

There was no reason she should believe him, but she did what he asked anyway – maybe she thought she had nothing to lose - and to her amazement she found that each day after that there was just enough meal and just enough oil to keep them going. If Elijah hadn’t wandered into her life when he did, they would both have died. She had been in the right place at the right time. 

But what looked like a happy ending, turned out not to be the end at all. Disaster struck. Her son - her only son – having been saved from starvation, suddenly died of some random disease anyway. She railed against Elijah in the passage we heard. She wished she’d never met him, never fed him, never heard of him.  

Elijah in turn railed against God. What was he playing at? Was this any way to treat someone who’d shown him welcome? That apparently chance meeting outside the walls of Zarephath didn’t seem wonderful now. It seemed more like a cruel joke, an awful mistake, something which had ended up inflicting even more sorrow. 

Elijah wasn’t having it. He pleaded with God and God restored the boy to life. 
It all turned out right in the end, but what a toll it must have taken. 

In both these stories, God was at work, and people realised it in the end. “A great prophet has risen among us! God has looked favourably on his people!” said the crowd at Nain. “The word of the Lord in your mouth is truth” said the widow of Zarephath . The God who brought life and hope was present, working through these terrible situations, but no one was expecting him to be.  This morning’s Psalm hits the nail on the head. The Psalmist says, “When I felt secure, I said ‘I shall never be disturbed. You Lord, with your favour, made me as strong as the mountains’ Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear.” 

When trouble strikes we tend to assume that God has deserted us. “Where is God in all this?” is a cry that most of us have given voice to at some point. It may have been a cry of anguish in a time of trouble or sorrow. It may have been spoken in bafflement when we are trying to find our way through complex choices, with no idea of the way ahead. We may have whispered it into the darkness, when we’ve felt our prayers hit the ceiling, and wondered if there was anyone there to hear us at all. It’s sometimes a question which we can’t help asking, but it’s a good one to ask at any time though. In fact training ourselves to look for God day by day, to pay attention to the deeper tides and currents of our lives is probably the best way to make sure that when those hard times hit us we aren’t left floundering. 

God’s guidance isn’t just for emergencies; we need it every day, so that when choices come we can make the right ones. We need to be used to asking “what is God calling me to, nudging me about today? Where are the places in me that need his life-giving touch?”  The widow of Zarephath said “Now I know that … the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth”, but are we used to listening for the ring of truth in the words we hear? Would we recognise that the scruffy foreigner asking us for food is God’s messenger, or that the travelling carpenter has the words that will bring us to life again?  How do we discern God’s voice among all the other voices that chatter away in and around us?

There are all sorts of answers to that last question. One of them is prayer – not the kind of prayer that just presents God with a shopping list, but the kind that involves silence and waiting. Even an odd few minutes here and there can make a difference, giving us a chance to reflect and take stock before plunging on. The Bible too, can be a kind of mirror in which we see ourselves reflected back, recognising ourselves in the lives of those who’ve gone before us. 

Often though, this kind of discernment is easier done in company – within a home group or with friends, or even with your friendly local parish priest…Helping people to discern where God is and what he’s up to is a big part of my job, and one of its greatest privileges and joys. I’m involved in various national and diocesan processes of discernment for those exploring ordained ministry, not just asking whether people have the skills to be priests, but whether that’s what God made them for. I get the chance to explore people’s lives with them when they are preparing for a marriage, baptism or funeral, too, or when they are dealing with some personal crisis. I can’t fix things for them. I don’t have the answers. But we can look for God’s presence together, spot the green shoots of life that hint that his Spirit is at work. I sometimes call it God-hunting, and it’s one of the most satisfying things I do. 

That’s why I’m currently specifically inviting anyone who would like to, to come and chat with me. I have been tapping some people on the shoulder, but you don’t need an invitation– just phone me, email me, or collar me after a service so we can fix a time. It doesn’t matter what age or stage you are – an old hand or new in through the door. The questions are the same for all of us. “What’s God calling you to? Where is he on the move in your life?” I’ve had some really fascinating conversations already – there’s a lot going on under the surface in this church. It doesn’t surprise me, but it does excite me! I’d love to have a lot more conversations, though, so don’t wait for a crisis, and don’t think it’s only for those who feel called to some specific churchy ministry. It’s for everyone. 

I started out by thinking about the one life we each have, a life full, at every stage, of possibilities and promise, of choices and challenges, of moments when we might be able to welcome God, or might miss his presence completely. Let’s make sure we take the time to pay attention to our lives, to spot God at work in them, as he comes to us to raise us up with his life-giving touch, and bring us the food that satisfies our deepest hungers. 
Amen