Generosity of love will help heal the tears

The last couple of weeks have been among the most painful in my recent memory. The continued gathering of dozens of people together, and the inevitable interaction between people meant that the difficult decision was taken to maintain the Cathedral’s daily round of prayer for the diocese and its communities – but to do this without a wider congregation present. It is a decision I own, and one I support – but in many ways one that goes against almost everything I would instinctually want to do.

The experience of being locked out of church in the first lockdown was, I know, intensely painful for many – and the inability of parish priests to pray in the church of the parish for its people was a pain that was difficult for many. Things that seemed certain were revealed to be fragile.

However, after the comfort of obediently praying from a chapel in my home, the return to praying on my own in the church building – without the normal company of voices to join mine and those of the saints – was a far more challenging place to be. There was a tangible gap, and a deeply felt absence in gathering with so many missing.

As we travel through lockdown number three, that feeling of an absence, a tear, or a gash between us is just as present; as members of the cathedral foundation continue to maintain a regular rhythm of prayer and worship on behalf of all, but without everyone present, there is a gash of absence in our midst.

There are plenty of other ‘gashes’ evident in our world today; within our communities, among our nation (or nations), and in the wider family of nations. All of these speak of absence in some way – a distancing that puts people apart and, in being apart, exposes people to the temptation to draw ever further away. Another tear of which we might be aware this week is the tear that prevents those who perceive the love of God from seeing that love to its perfect fulfilment in the unity of the Church. Our human failings have led to centuries of division as those who acknowledge Christ struggle to perceive the truth that flows from knowing this light – and the truth that should bind us together, becomes a source of division.

In this week’s gospel we see an example of the generosity of God that is revealed to us by Christ in our midst – when absence seems to threaten (in this case of wine), we find Christ revealing a new (and better) reality beyond the sense of loss. At a time when so many are feeling loss, it is generosity of love that is shown to be the necessary antidote to heal the tears in the fabric of not only the Church but communities and nations.

Amidst what can seem a time of sadness there are, for each of us, glints of light that may shine into the darkness; it is this sense of light shining in darkness that is one of the central images of the Epiphany season. Many of these glints of light will, perforce, be fragmentary at the present time, but it is important to remember that there are such fragments which can bind us together.

In the life of the cathedral community there are continuing fragments of our normal life in the ability for people to join worship online, the continuance of the cathedral as a place where people can participate in the sacredness of place through private prayer even if they cannot join together in worship, and there are the individual gestures of friendship and fellowship that I know many members of our community continue to share in whatever way they can.

In the same way, there are things that bind us together in wider society. Just like our church life at the moment, they may not be complete – they may indeed be fragile or fragmentary – but there are nonetheless things that can be sources of coming together in our world. Just as we may struggle with the present partial nature of our spiritual life as a community but hope for better things, likewise we can long for better things in the wider world – and work toward that vision of a world that, if not healed, is seeking healing by grasping those things that we can and building on them in love.

None of this is perfect, none of it is desirable (and some of it may be wrong), but all we can do is to do our best to imitate the generosity of love that we see revealed through Christ – a gift that is unbounded grace. It is through our openness to the work of grace in our lives that the fragile can be pieced back together, the broken made whole. And it is through grace that we can know the abundance of love that transforms all in hope.

NICK BROWN, PRECENTOR

Worship & Mission

On Tuesday 12 January 2020, Lincoln Cathedral announced that services will be available online only and that worship attended by the public will be suspended until further notice due to the increasing local and national prevalence of COVID-19.

The decision has been taken with a very heavy heart, but that public safety and preventing the spread of the virus remains our primary concern

 Online services
For the duration of the lockdown services broadcast online will include:
– Eucharist on Sunday mornings at 10am
– Morning Prayer – 8am Monday to Friday, 9am Saturdays
– Evensong Tuesdays and Fridays at 5.30pm
– Evening Prayer – 5.30pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 4.30pm Saturdays, and 3.45pm Sundays.

Private Prayer
The Retro-Choir at the Cathedral will remain open for individual private prayer and reflection between 10am and 1pm Monday to Saturday and 11.30am-1pm on Sundays.
Access for private prayer will be through the Judgement Porch on the South side of the Cathedral.

The Dean’s Green will remain open between 10am and 4pm daily as a place of quiet reflection.

Online Prayer Wall
Lincoln Cathedral also offers an online prayer wall where prayers can be left from the comfort and safety of your home and a virtual candle lit. Visit https://lincolncathedral.com/prayers/

Community

Geoff Leach RIP
Geoff Leach, who was for many years a member of the Cathedral community, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Christmas Day from the effects of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Geoff was a passionate supporter of the Cathedral’s musical heritage, particularly the choir, as well as being a steward and a Cathedral guide.

Geoff’s funeral will be held in Hampshire on Wednesday 27 January at 1.45pm. It will be live-streamed so if there are any members of the Cathedral community who remember Geoff and would like to join virtually please email geoff.leach.tributes@btinternet.com for details of how to join the live stream.

Events

Cancelled events
Please note that the organ recital by Colin Walsh on 23 January, and the performance of Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur, on 30 January have both been cancelled. If you had tickets, you will have received a full refund.

Bible Readings

Sunday 24 January
Third Sunday of Epiphany

Eucharist
Genesis 14: 17-20
Revelation 19: 6-10
John 2: 1-11

Evening Prayer
Jeremiah 3: 21 – 4: 2
Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14

—–

Sunday 31 January
Fourth Sunday of Epiphany

Eucharist
Deuteronomy 18: 15-20
Revelation 12: 1-5a
Mark 1: 21-28

Evening Prayer
1 Samuel 3: 1-20
1 Corinthians 14: 12-20

—–

Sunday 7 February
Second Sunday before Lent

Eucharist
Proverbs 8: 1, 22-31
Colossians 1: 15-20
John 1: 1-14

Evening Prayer
Genesis 2: 4b-end
Luke 8: 22-35